Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Retiring, but not shy.

I am going to pontificate a bit more on retiring, why i did it, and what it was like; what i was afraid of and what happened.

Em was 13 at the time. The Mister and i had enough money so that we could both have retired and lived a good life. I felt like i needed to be around more for Em, and to help make life easier for all of us. Any of you who are part of a couple where both of you work and have kids know how hectic that life can be. (And those of you who are working single parents, yikes! That's hard work.)

But i was afraid to quit my job. I liked working, i liked the people i worked with (for the most part). Working gave me a chance to interact with people on a regular basis. I was prepared to be depressed for a while after i quit until i found a way to organize my life so that i could still get the things i needed from it.

It's been over 2 years now. I never did get depressed. I found a number of things to do that help replace the fun and bustle of the workplace. I volunteer at a few places, i exercise at a gym, where i have gotten to know a few people, i keep up with friends i used to work with by having lunch. It also turns out that i am quite happy to spend time alone, reading books, bustling around the house, reading/writing blog entries. I am surprisingly content. I am not accomplishing anything spectacular, and i am okay with that.

It is different for the Mister. He gets more of his identity from his work. He thinks we need more money than we do. He likes 'stuff' more than i do. He needs approval from others more than i do. In other words, an extrovert. I worry about what will happen to him emotionally if he doesn't work. These are issues that he will have to work out for himself though. He has watched me go through retiring and i think he is simultaneously jealous and relieved that it's not him.

I selfishly wonder if we will drive each other crazy if he is around all the time too. A common worry from what i understand.

Really it's just another step along the journey that is our life and marriage. But i really don't think he's ready. But it's not up to me is it?


thailandchani said...

Well, gosh.. it's up to both of you together. Men are socialized to get their validation from work, far more than we are. He may find that he will want to do something on his own ~ or get involved with some hobby that will fill that space for him. I'll betcha he won't hang around the house very much. :)



Anonymous said...

No - I think you're right - the decision of whether or not Mister retires is NOT up to you, though you're doing absolutely everything right by giving him every choice. THAT is what marriage is all about - being supportive of our partner's decisions. You're a shining example of how to do that well.

When my grandfather retired, my grandmother got a part time job as a cafeteria lady. She loves her husband, make no mistake, but he wasn't used to being home and he was kind of a disruption in the house until he figured out how not to be anymore. Though that may not happen to you and Mister, make NO mistake that it will be an adjustment. I know, for example, that I get zip-point-nada done when my husband is home, either on weekends or on vacation. He is my best friend, and I'd rather be with him than doing mundane things like laundry or vacuuming (or grading papers)....

Do keep us posted on how things go. I wish only the best for you and Mister...

Lynnea said...

When I stopped working for much the same reasons, I was not unhappy about having time to myself (that was pre-twins of course) and I did volunteering at my son's school and the work out thing. But what I found difficult to adjust to was not having people to talk to daily. This really became an issue with the babies. I think babies do that - they take up so much time that we end up craving adult conversation. I can picture myself in a few years when the twins are in school, enjoying my days doing whatever I choose instead of trying to cram in all the housechores between twin time!

I like your approach. Make the opportunity for him to feel able to choose, but leave the choosing to him. That's best friend partnership right there.

Anonymous said...

The fella I'm sorta dating is so much more ALIVE when he's working.

Working helps me get my other work done. If my time isn't constrained, I slouch into sloth. Anyway who can work without deadlines has my admiration.

That's you, of course, dear Meno.

Dick said...

I took an early retirement for a variety of reasons. I finally decided that we had enough money to make it and the time left to us became more valuable to me than getting more money. I was very glad that I made that choice when my wife of 37 1/2 years died unexpectedly a bit over 19 months after I retired. As it was we did get to spend the last year and a half totally together. We would not have had that time if I had continued working.

We have two kinds of luxuries available in our lives- things you can buy with money and things you can do with time. I would say that when you have enough money, opt for the time. However, I also know people who have no real interest outside of their work who might be lost without that. There are exceptions to everything.

Anonymous said...

it's having choices fun?

seriously, it's almost a bit freaky when we actually CAN do whatever the heck we want.

sounds, though, that the rhythm in your house is strong and will bend and give no matter what changes.

Bobealia... said...

It depends. If he's in a position where he can do consulting (and be just as busy if not busier in retirement) but still get away from his old job, then it sounds like a working retirement might be the way to go. It's important too, to recognize that he likes the lifestyle you have. He might be really unhappy if you have to change that.

karmic said...

It's something both of you will have to work out together. Maybe he will freelance if it's too much for him?
You are in a position a lot of people would love to be in and you are making the most of it.
I think both of you will be fine whichever way things go. :)

Mother of Invention said...

You are exactly in the same place I am, although I'm probably older and have health issues forcing me to retire, but I love it. I have my life back and very little stress. Nothing I do is spectacular and I am okay with that also.

My husband is turning 54 but as he works for himself, he'll go another 10-12 years. He'll have no problem with long as he can still ski, rollerski,run, bike,do canoe trips etc.!

I do think that identity through career is more of a thing for males, probably due to stereotyping the male as breadwinner.

Depends on the job though. Some careers like teaching, dental, doctor,lawyer, big business etc. would maybe be more of an identity thing since it's total immersion and you bring your work home with you in real work or your mind at least.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is offering great insight, so I'll try not to be too repetitive. Some people don't cope adjust to leisure time if they've never had much of it. The Mister might fair better if he opts for a partial retirement. Leaves the job that is challenging his sanity and finds another job (to literally pass the time) doing something that he enjoys. It doesn't have to carry the prestige that his previous position may have offered. Jobs don't have to be an extraordinary to be rewarding. He may have some sort of boyish fantasy of working at a toy store, bagging groceries, or delivering newspapers...

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I didn't retire, per so, but I was also afraid of getting depressed when I quit work to stay home full-time with my son. I quit while I was pregnant and I think that went a long way in helping me adjust because I was able to establish a routine before he was born.

Anyway, my experience was very similar to yours and I was happily surprised.

My husband retiring? haha. His goal is to never retire, although he doesn't see himself punching a clock. For example, he wants to do "advisory" type of things.

I'm sure your husband will find out what we quickly found out - a happy person is an active person. And just because one isn't "working", doesn't mean they can't still be "productive", right?

Nice post, by the way. I think most people think of retirement as sitting on a beach or on a porch. Really, I've never seen that work out.

Bob said...

Sounds tough. I can only reiterate what others have already said. He will need to find something else that he can throw himself into - a hobby, or less demanding work. And you will probably need to have loads of understanding ready.

QT said...

I talk to people about retiring every day and I always ask them "What do you want to DO when you are retired?" as this usually leads to the discussion of how much income they will need.

I would say about 25% of my clients have actually thought about what to do for the final 25-30 years of their lives. Many end up working again, at different and less stressful jobs that they fund fun or personally enriching.

Best of luck, meno. You are right, all you can do is guide, not decide.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have to make that decision, but right now, both of us really have to work. As a teacher, life is really pell-mell during the school year. In the summer, I have been going to Graduate School, so, although we spend more time together, it's not like we get enough time to be bored with one another.

I think it's really important for couples to have common AND separate interests/hobbies/ etc. It's like the retirement issues of one multiplied by two... unless at least one person gets out to do things outside the house, it's very easy to start getting on each other's nerves.

At any rate, I think you're doing the right thing by letting him decide completely what his needs are. Clearly he needs to have a plan of action and things he can devote himself to that will offer the contact with other people and the approbation that is important to him. If he has the luxury of retiring when he wants to with no financial worries, the rest is a question of organizing retirement before he leaves that full time job so that he doesn't suddenly fall into an abyss. Especially being an extrovert. At the end of the day, you're right, though: it's his call. All you can do is support that decision, and... help him get organized once he does opt for retirement.

amusing said...

My dad's retirement saw him consulting (a relief to my mother, who looks for disaster around every corner and welcomed the checks) and adding a host of other activities to the roster: president of a local rail to trails group that was establishing a park and getting the trail approved and built, leader of a group documenting local graveyards and making that info accessible on the web, researching our family geneology, enrolling in natural resources monitoring programs (growing oysters, tracking purple martin populations), entering bike races and triathalons and the training those necessitated, pres. of the homeowner's association (established a new, controversial maintenance program), etc. etc. etc. He started raising bees again and got his license as a master beekeeper.

Looking at all the struggling non-profits around me, it is the retirees who provided the experience and time to make things happen. It used to be the stay-at-home moms (aka "ladies who lunch") but so many of them are in the work force now that we've moved out of Donna Reed's black and white neighborhood that the retirees are the power base for getting things done. Unfortunately, there's too much of a grey-haired seniors stigma for some of the young retirees. My mom was really offended when the High Museum in Atlanta had divided volunteer programs -- the Junior Associates (in her mind, all the young, fun people) and the Seniors (the grey haired folk). She ended up not working there because of the segregation.

Andrea Frazer said...

I had such a hard time giving up work. I am still, in a way, working while raising my kids - I have my ebay biz and I'm writing for magazines here and there. I can't just stay home full time. But I think the key in your case is the money. Not that money makes you happy alone - you need to be grounded, which you clearly are (and I'd like to believe I am.) But to do the things I love to do while being home - decorating and shopping and going to museums and shows - I need cash. And since that wasn't the case when I first had the kids, it was rough to make due with nothing. But also a growth lesson to learn to make things work with Rex despite bad pipes and gross floors. Maggie posted about this, too. Perhaps my next one will be along these lines as it obviously hits home for me - hence the rambling. Thanks for your insight as usual and getting me to pinpoint some lingering emotions.

Mother of Invention said...

I agree with someone who said to ease out of working and into retirement by going part time and then finaly getting another type of job part time or full time. My principal became a greeter at Walmart and loved it! Some other teachers just loved simply working in a book store. He'll be okay...he'll find his spot.

Anonymous said...

My dad is slated to retire this spring. He has been counting down the hours.

Until recently. Now he's talking about working another year.

I think it's because my mom has it all planned out. _Her_ plan. In which she retires too, they sell one car, my dad gets a volunteer job at a facility that houses special-needs kids, and he never spends another penny on rock and roll or rock and roll-related activities.

Penance. Too long to get into here.

Anyway, bless ya for accepting whatever decision the Mister makes.

Anonymous said...

If I thought for ten seconds - consecutively - we could "afford" for me to retire, I would do it without blinking twice.

One thing I have going for me these days is that I finally learned, several years ago, the difference between living to work and working to live. For such a simplistic thing, it's made all the difference, really.

meno said...

hi all. I waited too long to reswpond to you all as i like to do, but i read every word, many of them twice.

I loved your retirement stories, and advice. As always, it's nice to know that you all get it.