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Husband just retired three months ago: How do I handle this character now?

Category: Family and Retirement

By Ed LaFreniere of Retirementhumor.net

November 23, 2019 —

Q: My husband retired three months ago. We took a two-week trip right afterwards, and then the frustrations began. He claims he’s joking when he criticizes me if I miss a spot with the vacuum or the kitchen mop, but it’s getting annoying. He complains that I’m buying the wrong peanut butter for his lunches. He turns on the TV at 7 a.m. and sits around watching cartoons and soap operas. When I go out for the day and I ask him to do the laundry, he mixes the colors with the whites and leaves them dripping wet in the washer all day, so that they smell as if they’ve just come out of the New England Patriots locker room. I have to push him to get up and do anything. He says he’s just taking some well-earned time off after 45 years of working. How do I deal with the love of my life now that he has morphed into this freeloader?

….Frustrated in Frostproof, Florida

   Dear Frustrated: Ah, the age-old problem that affects tens of millions of households eventually: A husband or a wife retires and sits around the house as if he or she owns the place! You need to take this by the horns and indoctrinate your better quarter in the new reality – the updated rules of loving togetherness!

   First, though, please keep in mind that both of you should be prepared for an adjustment period – and show sympathy for each other’s psychological and emotional well-being, changing identities, and new needs for self-fulfillment and self-esteem.

    To start, Dear Hubby should discover a passion and a sense of purpose outside your relationship – something he gets up for each morning, an activity that he loves. It could be volunteer work, a part-time job or a hobby, such as model railroading, reading, gardening, dining out, bridge, or starting a collection of shoe horns. Some people turn to crazy stuff, like learning to blow up balloons through their noses or joining the National Pig-Grunting Team or the Whack-a-Mole World Cup, but your guy isn’t there yet!

    He might consider charity work, such as United Way, Make a Wish or Meals on Wheels. How about golf or tennis? And then there are countless organizations, such as church groups, the Loyal Order of Moose, Kiwanis, or the Rotary Club. And the opportunities for learning new skills is virtually limitless, whether it’s woodworking, painting, sculpture, piano or language lessons, or community college courses.

   Right now, you two might try a little separate time. You, also, should get out often and become intimately involved in similarly fulfilling activities that work for you. If hubby balks at any of this, the Sage humbly suggests that you help guide him along this journey. Buy him a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, put it on a couple of giant sheets of plywood in the garage, and tell him he’s welcome to come back in for lunch once he has finished it. After he’s done that, if he still grumbles, you will likely have to prod him further in developing more refined expertise in peaceful coexistence. Try proposing that he attend an enrichment program. There is an excellent course titled The Joys of Silence, put on by the Trappist Monastery in Shutchutrap, Idaho, that lasts until each individual has mastered the concepts of quiet diplomacy – usually two months to four years, depending on each retiree’s level of determination. The good news: They all get the point eventually!

   And if that doesn’t work quickly enough? Suggest foreign travel! For his birthday, give him a rewarding six months of fun camping in Siberia with Mistress Helga, the coach of the Russian National Women’s Wrestling Team. He will learn once and for all to listen to reason, and your laundry will come out spotless and wrinkle-free.

    Meanwhile, unplug the TV and get him on an exercise regimen. He should avoid weight gain and self-defeating activities that can lead to depression. Experts recommend that you both come up with a realistic budget and live within it … divide the chores somehow … develop separate friendships as well as socializing together with other couples … create havens in your home where you can each retreat for some privacy … and generally just be patient with, and supportive of, each other.

   Honest communication is the key. And if that doesn’t work, Mistress Helga will be thrilled to welcome him back for more camping!

   Good luck!

   Humbly Yours,

   The Sage

About Retirementhumor.net. Friendly humor from Ed LaFreniere’s Scuba, Snorkel & Sailboat Rental Shack in Scottsdale, Arizona

For further reading:

Home Together All Day – Heaven…. Or……?

Posted by Admin on November 23rd, 2019

4 Comments »

  1. I worked many years to get to retirement and now feel that I should be able to spend my days as I want to. So I choose to sleep late and read in the morning while my husband gets up at 6:30AM and does his reading and computer stuff and then he watches TV. It drives him crazy that I stay in bed till 10 or 11. If we have plans or appointments then we both change our morning routine but we need to respect that we both have different ideas of how to spend retirement. Couples need to communicate to each other what their retirement looks like to them. As a nurse I had to go to work early everyday and missed holidays and weekends with my family. Now I want to read, sleep late, travel and spend time with my family. Not everyone wants to have to follow a schedule again and volunteering or taking courses would include that. My suggestion is if some is criticizing how something is being done then turn that chore over to the criticizes. That frees you up to do more of your retirement things.

    by Marge Slobodzian — November 24, 2019

  2. Marge, Sleeping in is good if you stay up really late but spending more than 8.5 hours or so might not be such a great idea. Lots of research is coming out that suggests both too much and too little sleep have serious health consequences.
    See this from Harvard https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/too-little-or-too-much-sleep-linked-to-dementia-risk and dementia is only one of the potential health problems.
    It’s hard maintaining a healthy lifestyle while working so why not become a health-nut in retirement? That will drive your husband crazier than sleeping in 😉

    by jean — November 25, 2019

  3. You have worked for lifetime as a multi talker. You co-ordinated your life as a mother, wife, were respected in your chosen profession, managed a household’s daily needs and didn’t grouse. You were organized and recognized- you felt you had worth and were contributing to life-you are woman. When a man retires and has not given thought to how he will fill his retirement years, he has lost his identity and purpose. Especially so if he had a job with responsibility and management of others in his department. He starts micro managing in his new world- your home. How you cook, clean, buy groceries. He, too, needs a purpose and to feel worth. The first 6 months are a trial for both of you.If he never took/ had time for a hobby or outside interest it is especially problematic. Now is the time to plan some short term goals. What are his strengths? What are unexplored interests? How can he use them for personal, family & community involvement? As humans we have the need to do, to act, to be worthy. Excessive sleep/ glued to tv are signs of boredom& depression BUT can be rerouted into a productive NEW life plan. Are you near an active Senior Center? Could his skills help mentor others? Talk-talk- talk in the open, “What are OUR plans for this week-this month- this year- WE ARE a team but we can have separate interests, too. Don’t send him to grocery store today unless you can take him coming home with only 2 things on your list and $50 of “it’s stuff you never buy so I did.” It does get better but it takes patience, planning & working together. We’’re 62 yrs together, both had active professions, retired and living with disabilities. TRAVEL NOW before your mobility is compromised. Organize your home for today and thru improvements for tomorrow. Do you plan to stay or will you want to downsize? Ask your kids what they would like of yours AND TELL THEM to take their stuff from your garage or attic NOW or it goes out with your downsizing. This should get both of you on same page and with a good purpose- a happier future for both of you .

    by KT — November 25, 2019

  4. Sleeping in different rooms — or beds — can actually enhance your marriage, experts say. To Marge and Jean, please go to my site, https://www.retirementhumor.net . The advice column at the top left is on this very topic. We need to retain individual identities while negotiating compromises to stressful conflicts in retirement. Otherwise we’re doing constant battling within the same four walls.

    by Ed LaFreniere — November 25, 2019

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