Author Topic: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement  (Read 5420 times)

reformed spendthrift

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need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« on: July 18, 2017, 10:51:10 AM »
I married young and my husband was a much older divorced dad who ran his own business. We had a large family so I have been a stay at home mom for many years. My husband is a workaholic who is just now starting to retire-he works around 4 hours a day but most of the day is spent at home with me and it's driving me crazy. I am a homebody with a parent with Alzheimers. My husband suffers from ADHD and depression and I didn't really have to deal with it much because he worked 60-80 hours a week for years. He doesn't want to travel, doesn't have any hobbies but he does think that he is still the boss but with nobody to boss around it's directed at me. He is spending more time in the kitchen which I thought would be good but he makes a tremendous mess so I have to clean up afterward. He controls the television, blares his classical music all day and asks what each and every telephone call, piece of mail is, etc and it's driving me crazy. We had an excellent marriage until now. He has gone for treatment but left it.  I'm afraid if I talk about counseling together it will result in divorce and that would be financially devastating to me.

Has anyone here found that they are incompatible with their spouse in retirement but had no problems before that? Please don't leave cruel comments, I have several autoimmune diseases that leave me tired most of the time so I tend to be a homebody because I only have so much energy to expend each day.

ixtap

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2017, 11:03:06 AM »
It is an adjustment period. My father was like this for awhile, but now he is less The Boss than he was even while he was working. It is like it had to get worse before it could get better.

He sounds like the kind of person who defined himself by his work (there is even a current thread here about someone who doesn't know who he is if he isn't an engineer). He needs time to find the new him.

Is there a cause that he could volunteer with to keep him out of the house for awhile? Could he take up a hobby that keeps him busy? Have you sat down and discussed the new division of labor for the new reality?

What is his reasoning for not cleaning up after himself in the kitchen? Personally, I love the "the cook doesn't have to do the dishes" division of labor, but I find it isn't all that practical with our current lifestyle.

reformed spendthrift

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2017, 11:10:21 AM »
Thank you for your kind words- I worried about putting this "out there" because I do love my husband.

The reason for his messiness is the ADHD. He is forever dropping things, rushing things, forgetting appts. etc. I never had to deal with his ADHD because he was gone so much of the time. He tends to always be in a rush so he tends to rush his cooking, cleaning etc to the point where I worry if the meat is completely done.

As he is older and I have always been the traditional wife, I think it may be a little late to start the talk about division of labor. He does all the outside work so I am happy with that.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 11:23:13 AM »
I don't have a spouse, so cannot comment, but wanted to pop in a supportive comment so that you keep feeling okay about putting this out there.

Your post sounds fair, reasonable, authentic.
A LOT of couples have a hard time adjusting to the second person newly being home full-time.
Sounds, messes -or tidying up after the other- questions, reduced privacy, reduced solitude, different rhythm.
For me, those kinds of things are hard to cope with -even in a housemate, AirBnB neighbour, etc- and I could sure see how that could be so even within the context of a long marriage. Those are BIG changes.

You're definitely not alone.

The positive in a marriage (vs AirBnB neighbour, etc) is that there is time available for everyone to readjust. I could imagine that taking 1-5 years, though.

Sibley

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 11:33:11 AM »
OP, it is never too late to discuss and adjust division of labor.

Think of it this way - right now, things aren't working for YOU. If you don't sort these issues out, over time it will lead to resentment, which will destroy your relationship.

So, yes, it's an adjustment for both of you. You both need to come to a new arrangement that works for you, individually and combined. Good luck.

Lepetitange3

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 11:54:34 AM »
Can you take some time to regroup when he's at work those 4 hours?  I'm sure you have 100 things to do and maybe sometimes it's easier while he gone, but can you carve out 15-30 minutes when he's working to do something just for you that you like?  Might help make the difference coupled with some of the other suggestions

aperture

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2017, 12:08:54 PM »
...he makes a tremendous mess so I have to clean up afterward. He controls the television, blares his classical music all day and asks what each and every telephone call, piece of mail is, etc and it's driving me crazy. We had an excellent marriage until now. He has gone for treatment but left it.  I'm afraid if I talk about counseling together it will result in divorce and that would be financially devastating to me.

Hello r_s.  It sounds like you and your husband are going through expected conflict that results from change.  The impasse for now may be the failure to communicate (Your words "...I'm afraid if I talk about counseling together...").  You love your husband and do not want to rock the boat, but the change has already rocked the boat.  Trust love, trust your husband and trust yourself.  You will need to make things worse (for him) before they get better for both of you.  Find a way to let him know how you feel about the changes that have occurred since he left work.  Help him to not feel attacked - that may require a counselor or it may just require you telling him how much you value him and look forward to finding the great things that are now available to you both as a result of the change in his work commitments.   

BTW - thanks for the heads up that my retirement may be a net loss for my partner - had not considered that before and I will work on being sensitive to her needs/space and etc. as I make the change.  Best wishes, ap.

LAGuy

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 01:09:04 PM »
Well, if you've been a more traditional couple as you say, can you just kick him out of the kitchen? Tell him it's your domain. As for the parent, I'd strongly suggest hiring some in home health care aid. Even just to get you some part-time help. To me, the problem sounds like your husband has retired but you just ended up with even more work responsibilities.

BFGirl

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 03:37:48 PM »
I get what you are saying about the music blaring all day.  My daughter and SO both like to have music in the background all the time, and sometimes it drives me nuts because I want quiet.  Do you have a space that is all your own?  If the music is too loud, can you ask him to turn the volume down or ask him to wear headphones?

If he is inquisitive about the mail and telephone calls, why don't you ask him if he would take on the responsibility? If he isn't used to opening the mail, maybe you can go through it with him for a month and explain the things he needs to know about and then turn it over to him?

I would definitely have a conversation with him about the "boss" thing.  He doesn't need to be ordering you around, but perhaps there are ways that you can transition him to doing some of the things that have been your responsibility so that he still feels useful.

Good luck!

SwordGuy

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 04:29:21 PM »
I wish you the very best.  We'll be going thru the retirement transition next spring, so this is a good head's up.

Just in case you need a good laugh, you might have him consider a 2nd career in politics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QCoLZEyQls


SeaEhm

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2017, 04:43:35 PM »
How long have you been in this latest phase with him being home all day?
Just here to feel guilty about my purchases which are often irrational, wants, and in an atypical budget.

Mtngrl

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2017, 04:35:39 PM »
I know many couples who have gone through similar transitions when one spouse retires -- no matter the age.
Like anything else in a marriage, I think communication is key. You can't assume your husband knows how much his behavior is disrupting your life -- you have to tell him, and then work together to find a compromise. It doesn't have to be a negative or accusatory conversation. Present it as a chance to 'design' the ideal retirement for both of you to enjoy. It's okay to say something like "I know you love playing music while you work around the house, but I'm the type of person who does better with silence. How about we get you a good set of bluetooth headphones -- you can have the music you love and I can have the quiet I need." or "I love that you're doing more cooking now, but clean-up duty is getting to be too much for me. What do you think we should do?"
And I agree that it is never too late to talk about division of duties in the house -- my FIL took over vacuuming and dusting after he retired -- and he had never done a lick of housework in his life.
My husband did that with calls and mail -- he saw it as being interested in my life, not invasive. I broke him of the habit by joking about it. When he asked who that was who was calling, I'd say something like "It was my boyfriend. He wanted to know if you were still here." or "Why? Are you worried it's my boyfriend calling?" Said with a grin and clearly joking manner.
If your husband doesn't want to go to counseling with you, go by yourself. A good counselor should be able to give you some coping strategies that will help.

Rosy

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 06:41:51 PM »
I married young and my husband was a much older divorced dad who ran his own business. We had a large family so I have been a stay at home mom for many years. My husband is a workaholic who is just now starting to retire-he works around 4 hours a day but most of the day is spent at home with me and it's driving me crazy. I am a homebody with a parent with Alzheimers. My husband suffers from ADHD and depression and I didn't really have to deal with it much because he worked 60-80 hours a week for years. He doesn't want to travel, doesn't have any hobbies but he does think that he is still the boss but with nobody to boss around it's directed at me. He is spending more time in the kitchen which I thought would be good but he makes a tremendous mess so I have to clean up afterward. He controls the television, blares his classical music all day and asks what each and every telephone call, piece of mail is, etc and it's driving me crazy. We had an excellent marriage until now. He has gone for treatment but left it.  I'm afraid if I talk about counseling together it will result in divorce and that would be financially devastating to me.

Has anyone here found that they are incompatible with their spouse in retirement but had no problems before that? Please don't leave cruel comments, I have several autoimmune diseases that leave me tired most of the time so I tend to be a homebody because I only have so much energy to expend each day.

I totally get the "I only have so much energy to expend each day". I know that is a real thing, but lucky for me things mysteriously improve sometimes:) Stress certainly does not help and while I can usually manage and on occasion even power through, I am totally exhausted afterwards. Worse, the exhaustion can carry over into the next day, so I'm beat, before I ever get up.

I wanted to chime in about your comment of financial devastation if you were to divorce. First off, don't build that up in your head. Fear is never a good negotiator and right now you need your wits about you to improve this new situation you find yourself in.

I agree with the poster who mentioned even if he does not want to get help - you need someone on your side that you can talk to and can give you tips on how to deal with your situation. You may have to try more than one counselor to find one, that works best for you - that is paramount.

Having a parent with Alzheimer's is a huge responsibility and energy drain.
You need time to yourself and peace and quiet, to nap and regenerate or just watch some brainless but entertaining show on TV - a place you can curl up with a glass of wine or tea and a good book if you feel like it.
My suggestion would be to immediately set up a space for yourself, preferably with your own TV and computer so you can check-out, when you need to.

I don't know what to say about the kitchen. I just tell him to get out, the kitchen is my domain - I can do it better and faster and he's in my way. I'll ask him for help when I need it and I set him up with a cutting board and the veggies or potatoes or whatever. We have a sip of something while I cook and he preps and fills the glasses and sets the table.
When I am too tired after dinner I ask him to help with the dishes, more often than not, he just says you cooked, I'll clean. Expecting you to clean up his mess when he is now retired is unacceptable in my book.

You need to be upfront with him, nip it in the bud or he will run right over you in his anxiety. Explain to him in no uncertain terms that you already have a full time job and you really could use his help around the house. Tell him it would be great if he took over supper a couple of nights a week or started fixing breakfast or whatever - ask him to run the vacuum or something that is not too unmanly:)
Get him involved in a way that relieves you whether that is washing the sheets and towels or him going grocery shopping.

I doubt he'll quit hogging the TV, so get your own. I had to, because I am not a big fan of war movies:)

You love him, so that puts you miles ahead in the game, ask his input, figure it out between the two of you. He has too much energy - so find something for him to do or better yet get involved with/in. Local politics-poker with his friends? Building a shed? Painting the house?

It is an adjustment, hang in there, eventually this may resolve itself to your satisfaction. Meanwhile - go get support, wishing you the best. 


zinethstache

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2017, 09:21:17 PM »
I FIREd the end of January. DH had been working our rentals since 2011, so hasn't had a "day" job for many years. I suffered a severe back injury and I worked from home half of 2013 through the end of 2015. I was very limited in what I could do and he already cooked and cleaned for us. I still worked, but from home that entire time less recovery time from three surgeries. DH never, ever thought he'd be a nurse but nurse me he did and it helped us be a bit more forgiving to each other and respect each other's space.

Fast forward to now. We live in a fifth wheel, on the road and are with each other 24 x 7. There had to be concessions made. I like to watch my streaming TV, so I use headphones. If he wants to play a game, listen to music, he wears his headphones. We have to both be tidy pretty much all the time, I hate this, but I make the biggest mess crafting.

We have done a couple of stupid things that wouldn't normally happen, take yesterday. I showered when I got up, we left to go see a movie and my hair was wet. I have curly hair so in the truck I was fingering it dry and would stick my hand out the window to let any hair free...DH rolls the windows up without warning and crushes my wrist. It really, really hurt and I was pissed. luckily I thought to reach over with my left hand to roll it back down. Boy did I light into him! He only rolled the windows up because he thought he heard my phone ring and could not hear it. These are the stupid things that happen with you are with someone constantly. We skipped the movie of course. He later apologized and there will be no more rolling up my window for me!

We won't get a break from each other until September. I signed up for a 4 day crafting retreat and I am SOOOO glad I did. I have never been so excited to hang out with my crafting buddies as this year!

DH did NOT like being told that in his own house he has to wear headphones, but it is only fair. I listen to rock music and if he wants to listen to it he asks if I want to and then we can have it on for both to hear. I don't like his music at all, it is too repetitive. He likes movie music, yes, his favorite movie music composers is his mix on Pandora. I don't want to feel I am in a Star Wars movie ten times a day:)

As far as mail goes, we only get our mail every 3 weeks or so, forwarded to us so no issue there. I did get mad at him for NOT opening mail right away when a critical letter came and he ignored it. NOT ACCEPTABLE! I was very mad!

I do think sometimes DH gets bored and pesters me, but it is usually to go exercise and I try hard to not say no, even if I am in the middle of something because we both have all the time in the world these days.

Also, technically we live on "his income" now. I was always the high income earner until I retired from my job in Jan. I've always helped with the rentals, but he did the lion's share of the work for them (we now have a full time PM while we travel). It is a little strange to rely one someone else's income for the first time. If we were to ever split up, we would have to split up the rentals which I "think" would give each of us enough income to live, but I am sure it would be way more expensive and we each would have to find part time work. I've thought about it here and there when things have been tough. Now I believe we've worked through the glaring issues and try to respect each others space and needs so I think about it less and less.

I think you should talk to him, I didn't like having to be clear about my needs in our small space, but as we cleared the air, I found out some things I needed to do as well. I wish you the best of luck sorting out your boundaries and his.

powskier

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 05:45:34 PM »
He sounds like one of the people who could really be helped by medication, until that part is addressed it sounds like a dire situation.
Stress is also known to greatly affect auto immune type disorders.
Sorry to not give you some uplifting positivity but reality can be harsh. Best of luck.

Fishindude

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2017, 08:12:18 AM »
I probably have similar tendencies.
We bought a farm where I have an endless supply of chores and a big barn to work on stuff in when the weather is bad, after dark, etc.
There are always things to work on, so that I never get bored.   

Your man needs something to keep himself occupied outside of your domain.

freeatlast

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2017, 10:47:52 AM »
I wish you all the best and the above posts are so thoughtful. I hear you on your energy level and that you like to be at home.  However, given the situation, is there a low cost gym where you can escape to to do some low intensity, stress reducing exercise (yoga, meditation, easy zumba etc...)

Or is there someplace that you would want to volunteer at? Is there a park where you could read a book? Meeting new people and finding an activity you like may go a long way to make you happier and give you a break from the home.

You can't force your DH to leave, but that doesn't mean that you need to be home all the time. 

I wish you all the best on your journey.

acroy

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2017, 12:09:54 PM »
Hello rs.
that's tough - I've seen it happen almost exactly as you describe. whew.
I don't really have any advice except to try to talk it through, and find something for him to focus the energy on.
Good luck! prayers!!
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Bicycle_B

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Re: need honest dialogue about trouble adjusting in retirement
« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2017, 02:15:25 PM »
Hi Reformed Spendthrift, it sounds like you have very reasonable concerns in a situation that is naturally difficult, but can probably get better.  You will probably need to take some action to make it get better though.

I'm a very introverted person who likes quiet, so I can empathize with your feelings about constantly having someone at home playing their music, interacting, giving me instructions like they're my boss, etc.  Never having been married, it seems obvious that you do love your husband, so you're starting from a good base.  From watching other people such as my parents, where dad was loud and mom had to learn assertiveness after some passive decades, I support the remarks of other posters that it is important to inform Husband clearly about your own needs and boundaries, and his effect on you. 

I have known several older men who were not joking when they explained that they had retired, then gone back to work because their wife didn't want them around the house during the day. You have company out there!  So don't feel guilty.

Other thoughts fwiw:  Both of you can help figuring out solutions.  As an idea - if he's in Boss role and you choose to stay in the Bossed role on the surface, nothing stops you from from taking charge anyway, perhaps by playing the Emotions card: "Honey, I feel so cramped with you home all day because I need quiet.  Can you be a good husband and wear headphones?  Or find a quiet way to hear your music?"  Followed of course by "Oh, you're so thoughtful to be wearing your headphones again.  I love you so much!" Or perhaps the card of needing him to care for you/ compensate for your medical issues, at least to the point where he leaves you some quiet space.  Make him dedicate himself to your various new requests/demands until he gets tired of it and leaves you alone. Alternate approach:  "Honey, I love you, but if you're going to be around the house all day, you MUST take your ADHD meds!  You need to make a doctor appointment RIGHT NOW!" In any case, if his mess plus the caregiving demands are beyond your ability, hired help must be found for the caregiving. 

In all honesty, it might be that his retirement forces you to just be more assertive... it may never get easy, but from observation, it gets less hard with practice, and is VERY effective over time.  Just because you have some health issues and stayed home doesn't eliminate your right to a good life and a marriage that meets the needs of both partners.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 02:20:59 PM by Bicycle_B »