Trusted Contributor

Unhappy blue retired to red with spouse

Three years ago I retired to a rural small town with my still-working spouse. I am a blue liberal American. To say the least, it has been a challenge. I have worked hard to overcome my bias but find myself unhappy. I made connections and am an active volunteer but lack what I consider a real community. I feel I can not attend any church in this area since I will not be welcomed. I am a lifelong churchgoer. I feel that I need to watch my words and not live my true life.


I have been looking at this and feel that I need a change. I am tired of not living the life I want in retirement. That is the problem. My spouse is 7 years out to retirement. He loves the area since we moved back to his hometown building a home on his family's farm. He is now close to his family and childhood friends. He has said he has no intention of ever leaving.


Looking at my happiness at my age, I am looking at options to live a better life. I am seriously considering moving out on my own to a more blue area where I can have a community. Being together over 30 years makes this hard. I reason that we can stay married but live separately. 

Has anyone faces this dilemma in retirement?


**bleep**in' move 

Periodic Contributor

I've gone through the same thing, having moved from Mass. to Arizona with my husband two years ago. (We lived near my now late parents in Mass. for several years, and are now doing the same things for his AZ folks.) Living here still feels so foreign to me, and not just due to the drastic climate difference. The election makes things even worse, especially since I've always been a very liberal Democrat, and my husband's always been a conservative Republican! Tense to say the least!

Gold Conversationalist



I was thinking further about your condition last night. Considering how your marriage relationship might be. I would not want to live in a place where my spouse did not want to be. I find it sad that your husband doesn't seem to want to consider your feelings in this, I can see that he may be locked in to a job now, but then to not consider discussion about what happens on retiring? Have you had a real discussion with him about this?


It's likely a bit awkward that he will be working for so many more years while you are retired now. I expect that he is committed to a particular employer and job and would not be too free in picking up and moving on at this point in his life.


I quickly glanced through the list of your posts and saw a number regarding bicycle touring...that sounds fascinating! Something I did in my younger years and still have an interest in. I wonder if you can do more with this in order to meet your desire for something more than the bucolic days of rural life. More tours...and these might need to be done without your husband since I doubt he'll have unlimited vacation time to do these. Maybe you can find some like-minded friends (who need not be local) who would be able to travel with you at times. (Have you read about "early explorer" Dervla Murphy touring the world on her bicycle? might give you inspiration)


My widowed mom moved several times in the last 25 years of her life, eventually moving to a very small rural town (pop. 1,000) where she had a few family members. I don't know why she moved there as she complained about it constantly. She knew exactly what she was getting into, she'd been very familiar with that town most of her life. She had grown up in a larger county seat nearby and just couldn't wait to leave it as a young adult. So why move back there, to the even-smaller hamlet, at near 80?


Something my wife and I have talked about is traveling and staying in various locations for, say, a month or longer. Long enough to get the local flavor and get settled in. This would also alleviate some of the burdens of traveling what with packing all the time. Something like this might provide you with the dose of non-rural life that you need and you could probably do this without your husband...he could even come to stay for a week or two himself.


Good luck. I'd be interested to hear what you figure out to do.






Trusted Contributor

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I must admit I have not had a discussion on this with my spouse. I know he needs to finish his career with his employer for the sake of his stable retirement. He did move away from his family for almost 30 years to be with me and near my family. It only seems fair that I do the same for him. He is extremely happy where he is in life now.


I continue to bicycle tour. I am doing a good bit of what you suggested. I spend maybe 5-6 weeks a year on a bicycle tour, generally 3 weeks in Europe. It is an escape. I have found a touring companion that shares my views on life in many ways. the downside is that I have not been able to build a local community. I am an active person and have not found local people I can share cycling, working out, hiking, and such.


Your response has made me dig deeper into why I have been unable to make stronger friendships in this area. I have always been active in groups, volunteer organizations, and advocacy. I have found groups I love volunteering with and became an officer quickly. I have not found strong friendships in the groups. I am just there. Maybe I am expecting change too fast and need to allow more time to find my groove.


Ultimately I need to have a difficult discussion with my spouse. I know he will be unhappy with the topic. Maybe I am making too harsh a judgment. It is complicated by the fact that I have lived a life as a high-income earner. That has led to me being financially secure. It allowed him to take a lower salary job in this area. My income continues to contribute the majority to our household income. I have the financial means to buy a condo or home elsewhere. It would impact his life here.


There is no question that he will have a much hppy retiremnt due to my financial sitiuation. However, it seem reasoanble that I enjoy the fruits of my labor too. Talking financiesto a spouse if hard and had been hard for us through the years. 



Gold Conversationalist




I sympathize with y'all.


I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Then wound up working and living in Birmingham, Alabama in the mid-80s to early 90s. I recalled the images of Birmingham of the 1960's...Sheriff Bull Connor, civil rights marches, the bombing of the Baptist church ending in death of 4 young girls. But at the time I was there Birmingham seemed to have turned a 180 (but it really hasn't). I did like living there though. Just as I enjoyed living in St Louis for a year.


For the past 12 years I have lived on the gulf coast of Florida due to a job transfer with my small employer. I retired a bit over a year ago. Our town is an attraction for wealthy folks, wealthy foriegners, wealthy snowbirds, well-off retirees. Even for Amish, believe it or not. I really don't like living here and I don't believe my wife does either, but the job was the draw.


Florida is a very red state. But even in this reddest ink spot of a very red state the split between highly conservative and highly liberal is almost even. Our Representative puts out a poll every week and virtually all the time the split is almost even between two bickering sides. I imagine that in a less "red" state things might be more free and friendly.


This is an interesting spot to observe. As I mentioned, there are a lot of well-off and even well-to-do people (well, outright rich) that live here, either full- or part-time. But there's also a counter-culture of transplanted Europeans, the Amish, and old liberal hippies. There's also a tranche of drug-addled seniors who can't see or drive but do so anyway. And there's a tranche of younger people just trying to eke out a living...and that is very difficult here; their jobs are mostly service work for the seniors, the rich, or for the medical services. Many of these younger people work multiple jobs. And of course, there are many seniors working the tills in the stores as well.


I know that I am very fortunate not to have the financial worries and stresses that a lot of the residents around here have. And I sympathize with many of them. 


But back to me and not liking living here. I think I mentioned that it is a big draw for retirees. But they are predominantly white conservatives. I recall going to a local restaurant years ago with my wife and looking around at a sea of elderly white haired white folks. I felt sorry for my wife, who is Asian. She is used to being the odd visible minority having grown up that way, but still... And I myself prefer a mix of cultures. We lived in Houston for some years and while it is a huge, sometimes unpleasant city, it did have a potpourri of cultures that we found fascinating and took advantage of. I feel like we will wither and die prematurely if we stay here.




Trusted Contributor

Thank you for your response. I know I am not alone with the struggle. As a person who worked a lot of my years on diversity and inclusion, I have the biggest issue with people who seem to live in the 1950s. I have made friends and volunteer with people who in their beliefs and most of their actions see themselves as inclusive and not racist. However, their talk and politics seem to be counter to that assertion.
Honored Social Butterfly

What denomination are you? Any Episcopal churches near you? I realize they may not be as liberal as what I've got near me in DC, but they are generally pretty welcoming.


Are you anywhere near a college town? 

And.....I'm sorry. I have a beach house in  slower lower Delaware, and while I love to visit, I'm not sure how or if I would fit in if I moved there permanently.

0 Kudos

A person once told me;  don't expect to much out of life because if you do, you will be disappointed.  Most of us have overly high expectations. The media ,  movies , etc.  sell us the idea of happiness.  Enjoy the simple things like good health.  Good health leads to walks, bicycle rides,  etc.                         Today, people in general are afraid to take the fist step in building friendships.  That is saying,  hello.  People stand back because they're afraid.   Don't talk to anybody outside the circle.   Just be patient and give people time.  They usually come around.

Trusted Contributor

I am a life long Lutheran, ELCA - the more liberal of the Lutheran denominations. The ELCA allows local churches to live their own mission. That translates to most being more conservative in this area. Small town churches are almost always older with members living their life in the community, and being wary of newbies. The closest inclusive church is maybe 30 miles away. I moved from a pretty liberal college town near a large metropolitan area. I am now living in a small town with a liberal arts college in a nearby town. However, that college and town in no way impact this community. I recently read that the county is 97% white and of the 3%, most are black with other minorities insignificant. The black community is segregated for sure.

0 Kudos
Social Butterfly

I understand.  I relocated from a City in NY  with a varied population including Italian, Greek, Native Americans, Irish,  Africans to a Southern State.  It was more of an adjustment than I expected.  I was surprised by the resentment of Northerners... especially New Yorkers. For a while, I tried to speak southernly.   Eventually, I volunteered for a domestic violence organization and that is where I found other volunteers who I could relate to and formed

lasting friendships..... many of them were Transplants.

I suggest you find a group of women with similar interests.  You may need to try several organizations until you find the right fit. I avoided church groups.

Depending on your relationship with your husband leaving could be very sad.  But if you have tried everything to adjust to the new State then do what is best for you.  Best of Luck.


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