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Retirement Changes Relationships

by Lori Sciame July 13th, 2018 | Relationships
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retirementA man walks out his office door for the last time after 33 years of employment.  Even though he’s excited about not having to wake up each day at 5:30 am, and he professes he won’t miss being on call 24/7, he still feels wistful that he has reached the end of his career as a police captain. “Everything changes,” he thinks to himself as he places the last box of memorabilia in his trunk. Then he drives off into the scary world of retirement.

This scenario, or one similar to it, affects thousands of men and women in the US each year.  At the end of June, it was my husband’s turn to retire.  I’m readying myself for the changes that his retirement will have on our relationship, both good and bad. Two things I’ve found helpful: research and asking other retirees how they dealt with this major life event. Here are some interesting things I’ve learned so far.

Retirement Causes Major Personal Stress

I knew intuitively that my husband will feel negatively affected by the stress of retiring, but I didn’t realize just how much. As outlined in the 1967 Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, retirement is in the TOP 10 for adding stress to a person’s life.  In fact, the stress felt from retiring ranks closely to getting married and to being dismissed from a job.  Since I understand the stress he is feeling, I plan to be more patient in our interactions while he has time to adjust to his new role in the world.

Retirement Can Cause Power Stuggles

A close friend of ours, a retired fire captain, warned me that my husband will probably challenge the way I have been running the household.  Since he will be home many more hours, he may begin to re-arrange the cupboards in the kitchen, or he may decide to tackle the laundry – in a way I’ve never done it.  Since I know this will happen, instead of getting angry and turning these situations into a power struggle, I plan to discuss new ways of doing things. In essence, I am going to work on compromising.

Retirement May Cause Depression

My dad pulled me aside at my husband’s retirement party to let me know that he had felt depressed after his own retirement.  Because of this, he was adamant that I keep my husband busy for the first few months.  “He has to continue to have a purpose,” he advised.  Since it’s only the second week of his retirement, it has seemed more like vacation than anything; however, I’m sure once I return to teaching in the fall, he may feel more at odds with himself.  My plan is to watch for the classic signs of depression, including lethargy, overeating, or not eating at all, sleeping a lot, and withdrawal from favorite activities.

Final Thoughts

I think I am ready to tackle this new phase of life with my husband.  I know our relationship will change, but I am confident that overall, it will be for the better!

 

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