By Roberta Isleib, Ph.D
Neither my husband (Mr. Topretirements) nor I are likely to forget the days after he retired from his regular job and moved home to start his website. I am a psychologist/writer who had grown accustomed to lots of space—and peace. On that first day, he clattered up from the garage with boxes of papers and junk from his previous office, which he proceeded to unload in the dining room. I caught him spreading his computer and piles of other miscellany out on the dining room table, plainly visible to every visitor to our home.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said. “You can’t set up your office there!”
“It has to be somewhere,” he said. “And don’t think I’m going to be eating lunch with you everyday, either.”
After some heated discussion, we agreed that he might enjoy sitting out on the porch—a nice view for him and out of sight for me.
“But what will I do when it gets chilly?” he asked.
“Think layers,” I said.
Four years later, he still sits out on the porch in the summertime, but he has a nice office upstairs too. And I’ve come to enjoy having another person in the house during the day—some days we even share lunch at noon. But our bumpy transition illustrates some aspects of retirement that people don’t often consider. In the excitement of his retiring from one job and starting another home-based business, we hadn’t thought about how our roles and relationship might change, the importance of the home turf territory for me, or how he would fill the hours he’d previously used commuting and working. Here are some considerations to help you weather your big change.
1. You may feel euphoric at first about leaving the obligations of daily work behind. Then the reality hits: You have nowhere to go! Start planning well before retirement about the activities you want to get involved in. Join a tennis league or volunteer group NOW, so you don’t end up feeling lost. Try not to think only about what you won’t have to do in retirement. Consider how you want to fill that time too.
2. Retirement can have a big effect on your identity. You’ve spent a lifetime in the working world: Think ahead about how much your role might change. If you’ve been the boss in the workplace, coming home to be just part of the family can be quite a shock. What are the chances your wife and dog will want to fall into line when you set a deadline or make constructive suggestions?
3. Aside from the importance of your identity as a worker, many people don’t realize how much they rely on the workplace for social interaction. No more lunches, chats in the break room, celebrations of birthdays, work anniversaries, and the reaching of milestones. Think about this in advance and talk it over with your spouse. Chances are, he or she already has a social network in place and won’t be prepared to set it all aside when you arrive home.
In the 1960’s, psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe designed a life-stress scale to measure the effect of stress on physical health. It’s no surprise that retirement ranks right up near the top, just after personal injury, marriage, losing a job, and marital reconciliation. Change means stress—there’s no getting around it. But you can reduce the effects of stress and increase your retirement enjoyment by thinking ahead, planning for your new roles, and especially—talking, talking, talking!
About the Author
Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib (AKA Mrs. TopRetirements) is the author of eight mysteries including DEADLY ADVICE and SIX STROKES UNDER. Her books and stories have been shortlisted for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. Read more at http://www.robertaisleib.com
For Further Reference:
I Married You for Life – Not for Lunch
What Do You Think?
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