Life goes by amazingly fast. One day you’re a twentysomething and looking forward to beginning your career. Then, in the blink of an eye, you’re retiring. No more alarm clocks. No more daily commutes. No more office gossip. Those may sound like positive things—until they really happen. My husband, Tony, tells me that in some ways facing retirement is just as scary as starting that first job.
This month, Tony embarks on the next phase of his life: retirement. We shouldn’t be scared. After all, we’ve been planning for this since we moved to Florida nearly 10 years ago. Back then he had two goals: to finish his career in Florida and to play golf whenever he wanted. Getting to this point has not been as easy as we had planned, especially with the economy and all the healthcare issues that everyone faces. But, ready or not, here we are.
Over the last year or so, we’ve found all kinds of articles about adjusting to stricter budgets, finding new hobbies, and making health insurance decisions. Amazingly, however, none addressed the issue of husbands and wives being together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For that information, I informally polled friends about how their lives had changed immediately following their spouses’ retirements. And based on their answers, my concerns about this extreme dose of togetherness are warranted.
Some friends said they adjusted to their new roles as retirees within a few weeks. For others, getting comfortable with the changes took years. Almost everyone had a bit of advice for the newly retired that I think is worth sharing. I offer this condensed list of seven recommendations for balancing successful retirement and a happy marriage:
1. For guys, don’t follow your wife around the house asking what the two of you are going to do next. And by all means, don’t under any circumstances follow her to the bathroom door asking where she’s going.
2. Ladies, don’t leave a “honey-do” list unless he asks for it. Apparently most guys do not appreciate finding those posted to the refrigerator—no matter how much free time they have.
3. By all means, don’t start picking up after each other without asking. One friend placed all her kitchen utensils on the counter before a big cooking project. She walked away for a few minutes and returned to find that her very helpfulhusband had put them all away.
4. Do go on a trip together after the last day of work. This can be a nice transition from working to retiring.
5. Please communicate what you expect during this new phase of your lives. One wise friend said that she and her husband each wrote lists about what they thought retirement should be like and then compared them.
6. Make sure to develop separate hobbies. It’s okay to share hobbies and activities, but also find something that you can do apart from each other as well.
7. Finally, remember to be polite to your spouse, the same as you are to friends. Say “please,” “thank you,” and most importantly “I love you” often.
I’m sure there are many other words of wisdom about coping with the changes that a spouse’s retirement brings, and I hope you’ll share them with me. Send me your suggestions, and I‘ll let you know how the no-alarm clock days are going at the DeSantis home.
We Want To Hear From You
What’s your best tip for a successful retirement? Send an e-mail or post your answers to Lake & Sumter Style’s Facebook page.