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My Husband’s Retirement Is Driving Me Crazy

By Kurt Smith August 06, 2023 Family

Sandra’s husband, Jim, recently retired. Initially, she was excited. She thought they’d be able to relax, enjoy each other more, and maybe – finally – do some traveling. But that’s not the way things have turned out. Six months into his retirement, Sandra’s cruising the job boards looking for something new for Jim to do because, according to her, he’s driving her crazy, and a new job is better than a divorce. 

Sandra isn’t alone in her feelings.

For many couples, reaching retirement feels like you finally made it. No more stress, you can make your own schedules, and you can enjoy all the things you put off. That’s the dream.

The reality can often be quite different.

Adjusting to retired life can be a bumpy road, especially when the spouse who’s been gone the most is suddenly home. All. The. Time.

Just ask Sandra.

The Many Faces of a Retired Husband

There’s no universal reaction to retirement. The end of career life can be met with joy or grief. As such, processing those emotions and the behaviors that manifest can look different for each person.

That also means changes to relationships when retirement happens will vary too. And in the case of a retired husband and his wife’s reaction to him, what that looks like will depend, among other things, upon which version of retired husband you get.

The most common faces of the retired husband are:

The “I Want to Be with You Everywhere” Retired Husband

This man has taken Fleetwood Mac’s song and the idea of togetherness to a new level. “Where are you going? I’ll come with you.”

If you’re hiding in the bathroom for private time, this is your guy.

The “I’m Gonna Sit Right Here and Make Sure the Couch Doesn’t Run Away” Retired Husband

When it seems like his goal is to create just the right tush impression on his side of the couch, and he has declared ownership over the remote, it can appear  like sitting permanently was actually his life-long goal.

You’ll understand this one if you’ve been frustrated because your once-productive husband is now content to sit and let you do everything.

The “It’s Time to Do All the Projects” Retired Husband

Retirement can feel like an opportunity to finally catch up on all those projects there was never time for. But beginning them all at once can frustrate everyone – except your husband.

Tools and half-finished projects everywhere?

If he’s disassembled your kitchen and can never find the right screwdriver, you probably know this man.

The “I’ll Build a Better Mousetrap” Retired Husband

When the guy who never paid attention to the dishwasher or the kid’s practice schedules suddenly wants to reorganize things and constantly asks, “Isn’t there a better way to do this,” it can be crazy making.

You’re in good company if you’re ready to scream, “Leave my mousetrap alone!”

The “No One Needs Me Anymore” Retired Husband

It isn’t uncommon for a man who’s entered retirement to feel down and that he no longer has a purpose.

Depression upon retirement can become a serious problem. It can be hard to figure out what you want to do with the next chapter and who you are now that you’re not a “working man.” If your husband is depressed, he’ll need your support and possibly the help of a professional counselor to get to out of it.

What Retirement Is Doing to Him

Retirement involves adjusting to a new dynamic in your relationship and daily life.

During retirement, the structured routine of work life is generally replaced with a more flexible and unstructured schedule. Adapting to this change can be tough for both of you, especially if one of you thrives on routine and predictability.

There can be several other things that also weigh on your husband that affect his behavior. Among the most common are:

Feeling Overwhelmed

Your husband suddenly has a lot more free time. This sounds nice, but for some men, it can also feel like they don’t have a purpose. This can be one of the reasons he tries to become more involved in household matters or take charge of things you manage. It can also be a precursor to depression if he struggles to feel useful.

Retirement also can shift the balance of roles within a relationship. If your husband was the primary breadwinner, he might struggle with a sense of loss of purpose or identity.

Differences in Interests

With more time on his hands, your husband might want to pursue hobbies or activities that don’t align with your interests. This can be disconcerting as it may mean less time together. On the other hand, trying to pick up activities you used to enjoy together or start new ones can mean rediscovering each other, but it can also mean he wants to be with you all the time.

Financial Concerns

Even if you’ve planned for retirement, the change in finances can be frightening. Depending on your financial situation, retirement might introduce new worries about money and budgeting, leading to moodiness, an unwillingness to do things that cost money, or communication struggles.

Changes in Social Dynamics

If your husband’s friends or colleagues are still working, he might feel isolated or lonely during the day.

Finding Balance in Your Marriage During Retirement

Finding in your marriage a balance that allows for you both to feel cared about and respected, allowing room to enjoy each other and have some autonomy, takes work.

Just as every relationship is different, so are the solutions that create balance. The tips below can be helpful as you set yourselves on the right path.

  • Discuss and practice a new daily routine that works for both of you and be flexible with it.
  • Set boundaries, with outside interests and each other, and communicate your need for space and connection.
  • Carve out individual time for yourself, even if it means finding a separate space for hobbies or interests.
  • While it’s healthy for both partners to have separate pursuits, finding balance includes identifying shared activities that help strengthen your bond.
  • Communicate openly about financial concerns and consider seeking professional advice to effectively manage your new financial life.
  • Encourage him to build new social connections with other retirees or join clubs or groups that align with his interests.
  • Encourage open discussions about the feelings you each have about this phase of your life and explore ways to find meaning beyond work.
  • Be patient with each other and practice empathy. Frustrations are normal and should be addressed with compassion and understanding.
  • Encourage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can boost mood and energy levels, and caring for your health becomes even more critical during retirement.

Retirement is a significant life transition, and both you and your husband need time to adapt.

If you find the frustrations overwhelming or persistent, consider seeking support from a counselor. A trained third party can help you better navigate these changes and communicate more effectively.

Remember, even if the road is bumpy to start, working together can make this one of the best, most loving, and most enjoyable times of your lives.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Is your retired husband driving you crazy? How many of the faces of a retired husband have you experienced? What have you done to successfully manage retired life together? Please share your experiences with other readers and join the conversation.

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It would be wonderful if retired people started small or mini-businesses supplying the needs and desires of other people in the same age bracket. I call this #Twifties helping Twifties.
Lauren Teton
founder of Twifties, the fun people over age 60

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Lauren, Interesting suggestion. Thanks for sharing it!


I think my husband is suffering from all of these issues. He retired 2 years ago and is driving me crazy doing all of the above. Hanging around me allll the time not wanting to make new friends or find new activities. Complaining when the grandchildren come over and make a mess!!! It has caused so many argument. I have set boundaries and now he leaves the house on some “erand” when they come over. I’m sure he will find his feet but it’s taking longer than I expected. Thanks for the article it made me realise I’m not alone.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Pamela, No, sadly you’re far from alone. Good job on recognizing that boundaries are needed and implementing some.


Please overlook all of this however crazy it makes you. My husband worked hard for 39 years, only to have 4 good years of retirement before he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and passed last October after a 2 year battle. I am now alone and facing the future we thought we had by myself. Be thankful. You don’t appreciate what you had, until you no longer have it.


So sorry to hear that you are totally right hope you find comfort. ❤️

Susan Scott

Just what I was going to say! My husband died last fall at 59. I would give my right arm to have to deal with him in retirement. Please don’t take your hubby for granted. He will not be around forever and you simply cannot imagine the pain of losing him. Even if you daydream about having the house to yourself again, trust me, when you know he is never walking in that door again, ever, for the rest of your life, having the house to yourself is no fun.


Yes, my wife died 1.5 years ago after 41 years of happy marriage, and being alone every day is the hardest thing I have experienced in life.


Sorry for your loss. After the death of a spouse, everything you thought you were going to do in the future is gone, it’s very hard being alone.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Gerry, You’re right, loneliness is one of the toughest things we can face. Thank you for sharing your experience.


I’m sorry for your loss, yes just one more minute with them. It is the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with apart from his cancer. Life will never be the same. Take care of yourself.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Susan, I’m so sorry. Good advice. I believe we can both follow your urging to appreciate our partners while also having expectations for them too.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Linda, Thank you for sharing a very important point – perspective. I’m sorry for your loss and know the pain and loneliness all too well. Sadly, what you wrote – “You don’t appreciate what you had, until you no longer have it,” is so true and yet we all struggle not to do it in so many ways in our lives.


Oh, I could write a book in response to this article. I live on an island filled with retirees. My husband had to early retire due to severe chronic health issues so that was an additional adjustment plus financially, a big hit. He ticked off each and every thing on your list and often repeats his favourite hits. It is very hard to run my house since he spends hours making things better, even rearranging dishes in the dishwasher. The worst part is how it affects his moods. He has lots of friends and does volunteer work when he can but it is still a struggle. I had to learn Radical Acceptance big time!

A Shively

But well done for not losing your sense of humour! My husband, at 81, still insists on cooking a proper dinner every day, even though I would be happy with snacks eaten at random. I guess if this is the form ‘retirement boredom’ has taken, I should be very very grateful! Thanks for the article.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi A, Glad you liked it. Acceptance of differences is one of the keys to a successful marriage.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Jennifer, Good term – “Radical Acceptance”! You sound like you have a good attitude and perspective, and that makes a big difference. Strike a balance with your acceptance though and expect the respect you deserve too.


Maybe the woman can get a PT job. Lol


That’s exactly what I did; picked up a P/T job at Publix grocery store. Gives us something new to talk about.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Kim, Good for you! So often we’re looking to change our partner rather than look at what we can do differently. Working has a lot of healthy benefits too.


That was my thought about the woman checking job boards for her husband. She might try checking for herself. If she has been staying home while he worked, a role switch could give them both appreciation for the other spouse’s work.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Charlene, Great point. Appreciation seems to be a theme in the comments. Nice suggestion on another way to produce it.

The Author

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director at Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and works with men and the women who love them. He is an expert in understanding the unique relationship challenges facing couples today. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.

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