Monday, March 3, 2014

Just Ask Joyce: "My retired husband is driving me nuts!"

March 2014

Q: “I have been fortunate to stay home while my husband provided for our family, and he’s done that very well. My problem is that he’s now retired, and it has really disrupted my life! He suddenly wants to change my routine. The house is not arranged to his liking. He wants breakfast and lunch at a certain time. He wants me by his side 24/7. I want my life back!"


Just Ask Joyce
A: Wouldn’t life be great if we could find the place that best suited us and stayed there? I’m certain if it could happen, your husband would go back to a time when he was more fulfilled as well. The transition from an active, working, and productive lifestyle to a more sedentary, leisure, and uncreative one can be tough initially. As disruptive as your life seems, consider what he is likely going through emotionally. Not knowing what his career choice was, he sounds like a man who “needs to be in charge” of something.

I would advise to begin with these steps to make this life transition a little more palatable for you both. You might meet some resistance initially, but chances are he will grow to accept your efforts more readily as time progresses.

  • It’s time for a heart-to-heart chat. After a nice dinner, begin the conversation about how life has changed for him. Is he content? Does he miss work? How has life changed for him? Then, it’s your turn. Let him know the smothering feeling you are sensing. Reassure him that you need him as much as he needs you, but you want to continue enjoying some of the same pleasures he has been gracious to afford you throughout his career.
  • Offer him alternatives. Probe into his concept of retirement. Has he thought of finding a part-time job? Becoming a consultant? A handyman? He needs to be reassured that with his talented gifts, the world needs him in some capacity. If he has a hobby, encourage him to become more active in it. Many men lose track of that kind of camaraderie and have less opportunity to maintain friendships.  Encourage him to develop a circle of friends, someone he can enjoy a cup of coffee with or invite to play golf or go fishing. A church is a wonderful place to volunteer. As a pastor’s wife, I know there is always a bucket list of things willing volunteers can do. These activities don’t have to consume his time, but knowing he has something on his calendar that demands his input can be satisfying.
  • Put your foot down. I don’t advise stirring up a hornet’s nest around home. A contentious-spirited environment is no way to live out the rest of your days. I would, however, suggest that you be firmly adamant that things in your life are important, too. You should not be expected to give up your circle of friends or other pastimes you have enjoyed in order to accommodate his every need. If he pouts, he’ll get over it in time. But if you make every concession depriving yourself of needed “me-time,” you will find yourself resenting him only more.
  • Don’t forget that he is a priority, too. This is a time in your life that the two of you have worked toward. Retirement should be a time when you enjoy the company of your spouse more abundantly. Travel should be incorporated while you’re still active enough to enjoy it. Decide that your love for him is not going to take a back seat to your dislike for him. Love must be the overriding priority here. So, whereas you’re not settling to concede, you are making the choice to honor your marriage. As you said, he has done a more-than-adequate job in providing the lifestyle to which you are accustomed. He does deserve, not a smothering of time, but a smattering of time with you.

Life is too short to get sideways this late in the game. You’ve been through your more difficult years. Now, it’s time to enjoy the best of both worlds, remembering that part of his was left at the office.

Change your life … NOW! Write Joyce Oglesby, Family-Life Fitness Pro™, at joyce@justaskjoyce.com. She's here to help! Check out her books and other resources today at JustAskJoyce.com.

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