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Help! My Husband’s Retired and He’s Driving Me Nuts!

By Stacey Dehmer January 14, 2023 Family

“When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income.” – Chi Chi Rodriguez

Finally, the day we’ve been working toward arrived. Both of us retired. Ever since I left the workforce years ago, we’ve dreamed of the days when my husband would join me.

We imagined leisurely days we could spend together doing all the things we love to do. Well, now that day is here. We’ve settled into our new home in central Oregon and are getting plenty of that togetherness… maybe too much.

My cherished morning quiet time is now ‘our’ time, and it’s not at all quiet. He’s been up since 5 am, itching to engage with someone and bustling around announcing all that he’s accomplished since sun-up. I’ve suggested he call someone on the east coast but it seems he has no friends on the east coast.

My Routine Goes Out the Window

In need of something to do, he’s decided that a “state of the household” assessment is required. All my usual responsibilities are now up for grabs. By him. Being the consummate tasker without any office demands, he’s gone into overdrive on the domestic front.

Apparently, my day isn’t adequately organized. Nothing a large whiteboard can’t fix. He set up a ‘his and hers list’ and gleefully checks off his tasks as he completes them. For me, an eraser works just fine – before the task is even contemplated.

Tuesday is his favorite day, the day before recycling pick up. He gets to oversee the family sorting of bottles, plastic and paper, like a general commanding his troops. Then he retires to his recliner where he claims he’s ‘practicing’ to unwind. That lasts maybe 20 minutes.

I expect most wives would be thrilled to have their husband so helpful. Of course, I am very appreciative of all he does… it’s just that he’s turned my daily routine sideways. We clearly have some adjusting to do to settle into each other’s rhythm. In fact, we’re not alone.

Many retirees ages 60 to 73 have challenges adapting to retirement. Most difficult seems to be the absence of daily social interactions with colleagues, adjustment to a new routine and a lack of purpose in their daily lives.

While there’s no magic formula, here are a few tips to help retirees adjust to their newfound freedom.

Explore New Interests

Whether taking a class or tackling a new sport, try things you’ve wanted to do but never had the time for. Challenge yourself. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

For example, try learning a new instrument. Increasingly, studies are linking musical training with improved brain function and better memory because it exercises all of the brain’s parts.

The key is to find something you love to do and do it! Psychologist Jacquelyn B. James, PhD, of the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College found that only those people who are truly engaged in their post-retirement activities reap the psychological benefits.

Have Fun as a Couple

Pursue mutual interests to continually cultivate your relationship. Travel is the number one mutual pursuit among retirees according to a study by Allstate Financial. New hobbies are another way to spend time together – cooking, hiking, bird-watching and gardening are just a few examples.

Volunteer

Volunteering not only gives back to your community but also helps you make new social ties.

One study found that older adults who had volunteered at least 200 hours (3–4 hours a week) within the prior year reported greater increases in psychological well-being than those who did not. Also, they were less likely to develop hypertension than non-volunteers.

Be Patient

Expect adjustment – it’s a journey. According to psychologist Sloan, “Retirement is not like jumping off a diving board, it’s a process and it takes time.”

I’ve learned over the years to be more intentional in how I spend my time so that my efforts are headed toward something long term and sustainable… rather than just busy work to fill the hours.

There’s a whole new world out there to explore. Whether close to home or on a different continent, embrace your freedom!

Here are some questions to ask yourself: What have you always wanted to do but never found the time for? What travel destinations are on your bucket list? How can you give back to your community?

Challenge yourself and have fun! My husband and I are starting to settle nicely into a comfortable rhythm as we carve out our time spent individually and together. It’s a lot more fun to explore our new surroundings together rather than solo. Now, if I could just get rid of that whiteboard…

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Has your partner or husband retired recently? How are you finding the new rhythm of your life together? Please share your tips and observations in the comments below.

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Renate Huf

Couldn’t avoid a big grin……it’s so true. I consider myself lucky, as my retired partner lives in his place and I live in mine. By car 1 minute. We have a routine and do our own stuff during the day. However, I noticed some ‘take over’ tendencies 🥰

Barb

I remember my first year of marriage, 52 years ago, it seemed like my husband and I “squabbled” all the time. One day a year and a half into the marriage I noticed we were no longer at each other. When we both retired I gave myself a few months (we are more mature now) to each find our place.
It will happen, and it will be wonderful.

Julie Wilkens

After a recent cOPD diagnosis my retired husband has (finally ) decided to stop smoking. As happy as that makes me, I miss the alone time when he would be smoking in the designated spot in the garage. It’s a trade off, I guess. A good one!

KarenG

Not really

B L Wenger

For the first 2 yrs after retirement, my husband drove me nuts. I remember it well! The 3rd year we seemed to manage getting into our routines w/o him snooping over every counter and watching every move I made. We made lists of things that needed to get done…including meals, grocery shopping & laundry. He needed to see how much I do! Then, he took ownership of the list because checking off things done appealed to him. After 4 yrs…we’re getting along better than ever. We know what each other has to do and respect each others space. He’s found all the good “lunch” deals at restaurants and senior discounts which were “on the list”. Now we do a lot of lunch dates and run errands in the process.

Lisa Nazarenko

I’ve been retired for 2 years and my partner of 30 years will retire in 3 months. I’ll love having time with him all day, but also dreading it! I love relaxing quietly with my coffee in the morning, but he is rise & shine, get up and go. I read a lot and he just glances through the paper. I’m worried he’s going to drive me nuts.

Cathy

Lisa, this is my life right now. My retired spouse is an early riser and ready to start the day with a cup of coffee. I like a quiet, relaxing cup of tea to start my day. I miss those times when he was already working and I could start the day like I wanted. I get very frustrated with him. I try to calmly explain to him what it is I want and how important it is for me to enjoy my retirement my way as well. I try to stay patient with him as I have 2 girlfriends who’s husband are extremely dependent on them each and every day as their mobility is diminished so badly. Stay the course. Try to treasure and cherish each and every day. You have worked hard for your retirement and you deserve all the benefits and serenity and gifts the joy of no longer working can provide you.

The Author

Stacey Dehmer retired from a long career in marketing communications when her husband’s job took the family to Bangkok, Thailand. While there, she was an editor and frequent contributor to their expat community’s local newsletter. She loves to write, read, cook, hike, bike and especially spend time with her family.

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