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How to Deal with a Retired Husband

When your husband retires, it can affect your health in one way or another. If you’re still working when he retires, perhaps there won’t be much of a change. He might even be a welcome help around the house by having dinner ready for you occasionally. If you’re really blessed, he’ll keep the house clean and do the laundry.

Does this sound too good to be true? I’ve known couples that have this type of relationship. More power to them! If you don’t work be prepared for your day-to-day routine to be drastically altered. No longer do you have the freedom to do your tasks the way you choose!

My husband was forced to retire due to a heart problem. It happened suddenly and when he came home one Thursday evening and told me, “tomorrow is my last day at work” I was hit with a wave of fear. Not because he was forced to retire, but a picture suddenly flew through my mind of him being home all day! I had a flash of sheer panic!

What will I do, I thought all night! How will I know what I’m supposed to do?

The next night he came home with his belongings and we went out to dinner. I’d been feeling this internal turmoil since the evening before and I didn’t know how to handle it. Here was my dear, sweet, helpful husband, so very happy to be retired and wanting me to share his joy. However, no matter how hard I tried, I was filled with uneasiness and panic!

Finally, he could stand it no longer, and confronted me point blank.

“What’s the matter? Why won’t you talk to me, or at least smile once in a while?” he asked, a little peeved at me.

I was unsuccessful at hiding my unexpected feelings. Forced to respond, I said, “Well, I think I’m scared! I have a certain routine, and I don’t know what to do if you’re going to be home all the time!”

Do you believe it? He started to laugh! He laughed as tears rolled down my cheeks! How could he be so cold, I thought to myself. I was shocked at my own feelings and I just plain didn’t know what I was going to do with him around the house all day!

“You don’t have to change anything!” he exclaimed. “Just go on with whatever you do. Tell me what you do when you get up.”

“Well, I get my supplements, and my cereal and get online to check my email while I eat. After that I get dressed and do whatever needs to be done.”

“That doesn’t have to change,” he consoled me tenderly. “Just carry on like I’m not here. I’ll be busy doing things anyway, so nothing really has to change for you!” He grinned, “Well, maybe you could fix us lunch together once in a while?”

Well, maybe it will work; I tried to convince myself, forcing a smile. I was determined to be more optimistic and upbeat.

It wasn’t long though before our house became a training camp. At least, that’s what it felt like! For the first week or two, he was busy handling all the paperwork and details associated with his retirement. Then, he decided to take a two-week trip to Florida to find a house, since his doctor had recommended a warmer climate.

While he was gone, I felt perhaps my initial fears were totally unfounded. Things were going to be fine. Exactly one week from the time he left, he came walking back into the house! He’d driven straight through because he was excited about the place he’d found for us to live! He’d put a deposit on a modular home, and I must say, it’s beautiful and is a great place to retire.

During preparations to sell our house, the tide began to change. My husband became almost driven, and began barking orders about what we had to do, when we had to do it, and how it was to be done. The man I married, and the man I was living with, just didn’t seem to be the same person anymore. I’d plan each night what I wanted to do the next day, but invariably, he’d get up and let me know in no uncertain terms, what WE were going to do. He had turned into a drill sergeant and not a very nice one, at that! Over the next two weeks, I became uptight and tense, and would cry at the drop of a hat! Or... whenever he would say, “Today we’re going to....”

I was stressed out and at my wit’s end! I finally broke down and told him what I was feeling and that frankly, I had developed a fear of saying anything to him. I never knew when he would fly off the handle, so I had become more and more silent. I finally said to him, “You either quit being a drill Sergeant or you’ll be going to Florida by yourself!”

Well that seemed to work as he pretty much reverted back to his old self, and told me he didn’t realize he had become my “sergeant”, and he would do his best to ease off. During the move and unpacking, whenever he would revert back, all I had to say to stop it was, “Yes, sir!”

He’s still on a roll, and just can’t seem to slow down. He is kinder and trying to find out what I want to do, instead of barking orders. He’s also realized that a quiet, sedentary retirement is not what he thought it would be!

“I have to find something to do!” he said, quite often, as I prayed, “Yes, Lord, help him get out of here once in a while!” Now he works part time as a Security Officer.

Don’t get me wrong, we love each other and love spending time together, but a quick, unplanned retirement is hard to adjust to. We’re both independent people with our own interests and we like having time alone to handle our own projects. This retirement business is a huge adjustment, and takes care and thought from both people to make it work. Be aware though, dealing with a retired husband can be hard on the emotional health of a woman! Realizing that in advance can help you both cope with it without too much emotional damage. Good luck!

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Comments (1)

LOL - it sounds like your husband was use to managing people and that's hard to get out of....it's great that you are adjusting well but in case he gets a case of macro-managing, you might get a pet - probably a dog - that he can train and "bark" orders to..besides pets are so lovable, he'll probably be taking orders from it instead! Happy retirement and God bless. Thanks for sharing.

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