by Afton Rorvik
My husband retired today. That sentences launches a million questions within me. What will he do with his newly acquired free time? How will we learn to navigate seeing each other more at home? Will we have the wisdom and honesty to set new boundaries with each other? (“I love you, but I need some time by myself this morning.”)
Even as I ponder these questions, I know that we will know how to navigate this new chapter in our lives.
When our children both began full days at school, John and I started the tradition of having a long lunch together every Friday. Our youngest will turn twenty-nine this year so we have had over 23 years of Friday lunches together. I think that adds up to over 1,000 lunches.
Sometimes we used those lunches to talk logistics, but most of the time, we intentionally tried to use them to focus on each other. In the midst of busy child-rearing, career-building years, that took effort.
It meant clearing schedules—treating our lunch as an important meeting, which we only changed if absolutely necessary. It meant saying no to coworker lunches on Friday or to Friday ministry meetings.
It meant showing up to lunch when we had just had an argument. Nothing like sitting down at a table across from someone with whom you feel frustrated. It forces conversation and compromise and fosters understanding. And all in a neutral, public environment.
It meant showing up when grief and sorrow weighed us down. As an introvert, I often like to process sorrow and also joy in my own time and space, partly because I struggle to put words to how I feel. Showing up at Friday lunch with a heavy heart forced me to learn to talk about my emotions. John too. And we learned to ask each other for help navigating hard stuff.
It meant showing up to settle on a plan of action. As we weighed big decisions—school situations, house projects, family issues—we both knew that we would find time and space to offer our opinion sover a table at Friday lunch.
It meant showing up to celebrate good news. We often said to each other: “Let’s celebrate that on Friday (a work raise, a writing contract, a completion of a challenging project). For John celebrating good news usually involved dessert.
I know that my husband’s retirement will bring changes for both of us. No doubt we will argue about some things, such as new routines. John will likely feel a sense of grief at the loss of connection with colleagues. We will have to ask and answer important questions such as, “Do we want to keep living here? What about that part-time job offer? Where should we travel next? How do we address health issues as we age?” And we will still have good news to celebrate.
While this next phase of life—retirement—will have lots of ups and downs, I feel confident that we will weather them together. Because of Friday lunch.
Friday lunch taught us how to show up for each other and talk to each other in any and all seasons.
Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. Her book Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship debuts in October 2021. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website or on Facebook or Twitter. You can sign up for her monthly newsletter here.
Hey Perennials! You can preorder Afton’s new book NOW!
Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship releases October 5th. From the book’s Amazon page:
Introverts do so much well. They listen well, feel deeply, and think carefully. They also take delight in quiet and happily spend time alone.
Yet even introverts need friends to support them through the rough patches, to challenge them to live well, to help them laugh.
And God calls even introverts to live connected. No small challenge! In her warm, conversational, story-loving voice, Afton Rorvik writes about creative and practical ways to embrace introversion as a friendship-building tool―in a quiet, thoughtful way, of course.
Introverts (and those who love them) will find courage and challenge here to build life\-giving friendships, one word at a time.