There comes a point in one’s life when you have to take stock.
For us, it was after our annus horribilis whereby our young daughter had cancer, we lost a parent and my husband was told to make some of his best staff redundant just before Christmas.
The following year was a period of mourning, getting back on track and thus taking stock.
When you get to this point, the cycle of life seems a waste somehow. When you’re young you are ambitious, you want to do well for yourself and you follow your goal to achieve. But when you get older and start to consider your retirement, you wonder whether all that stress and materialism was worth it. You build up to the bigger and better house for your family and then your children leave home and you downsize, while thinking, what was the point? You realise that family and health are more important and you wish you’d been that wise when you were younger and could have saved yourself all that trouble.
Deep down you know that’s how it will always be – that’s life!
You could say that although I’m only just dipping into my 50s, I’m already retired. I sold my business a little while ago, in order to pursue writing, and some would say that’s a hobby and not a career. Either way, I’m fortunate enough to do something I love and I have my routine and little lifestyle. However, my husband is still on that treadmill of work and stress and desperately wants to get off it and I won’t stand in his way. So now we are planning his retirement and on my part, it is with a mixture of excitement, but also some trepidation.
How often do you hear of couples who get to retirement and find they can’t live together? The wife has devoted her life to their kids and the husband has been the bread winner. They have been living separate lives for too long and when they finally come together, they have nothing in common and split up. You’ve probably seen them sat in a pub or restaurant having nothing to say to each other.
Happily, I know that’s not the case with us – we love being together as a rule. We go away for lots of long weekends and holidays and never have a cross word. But it’s the little things that worry me. As you get older you become set in your ways. I work in silence all day, with nothing but our dogs and the radio for company, as I write. My house stays tidy and I eat lunch when I’m ready. I never watch the clock or follow convention. I occasionally enjoy catching up on my favourite TV programmes in peace, and without a commentary from anyone else. I have my lunch friends and routines.
When hubby comes home, the dogs go mad, the kitchen is an instant mess and he chatters away. Will I cope with that all day, every day? My whole routine being turned upside down. Will I be able to keep putting things back in their place, without feeling resentful or becoming a nag? Will I concentrate on writing the next chapter of my book, while he’s watching TV with the volume loud? Can I keep my mouth shut as he walks around the house in his shoes, adamant he’s wiped his feet, when the muddy trail proves that he clearly hasn’t. I can for a weekend, knowing full well that I have a week of peace, but what happens when that reprieve is gone?
Having a husband home, is like having the kids back.
Then there’s the new financial situation we will find ourselves in. How will we cope – he’s a spender, I’m a saver? Worrying about money or arguments over spending can soon ruin a relationship and up to now, we’ve each had our own. As a retired couple it will all be in one pot. Will I be able to stop worrying about paying the bills, while he’s buying the latest silly gadget he doesn’t really need? Who knows how long we will live and how long the money has to last. He feels we should spend it now while we are still alive and I feel we should keep some by – after all people are living to over 100 now.
I’m not trying to be selfish with my worries, just practical. He has most definitely earned this retirement – it’s his turn for a break – and it’s up to us both to make it work. We will have to talk it through. Maybe lay some ground rules (I’ve already started training!) He will have to stop being bossy and I will have to try not to nag. It’s all about having respect for each other and we have always worked as a team in the past, so I hope that will stand us in good stead for a happy, relaxing transition into the next phase of our life cycle, where we can enjoy doing whatever we like and going wherever we like.
Watch this space!
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