Retired and Married: Spending All Day, Every Day, with your Spouse...

by Diana
(New York)

I met my best friend during my junior year in college and married him eight years later.

While we spent most of those 25 years living under the same roof, much of our waking hours were spent apart, in college at classes and studying, and then later, working at our careers. Much of the time we did spend together was in front of the TV, decompressing after a long day at work.

So the prospect of both of us being retired had me filled with the excitement of getting to spend the whole day, every day, with my very best friend.

I pictured us side by side at the breakfast table, each with our laptops, discussing the news of the day and the status of our Facebook friends. Working out in the garden together, biking, hiking, and going out for lunch, it all seemed a very romantic picture.

Just as I had pictured, we sat at the breakfast table together with our laptops, each perusing the morning's news. Within the first week, though, I came to the realization that the reason people aren't killing one another at work each and every day is because of offices with doors.

Everyone knows that co-workers get on your nerves. You spend eight or more hours a day with the same people day in and day out, and it doesn't matter how much you like them, they are going to annoy you. It's not that our workmates are inherently irritating, it's just that when you mix daily concentrated time with the same people, and a stressful work environment, irritation is simply a natural byproduct.

Part of the natural order of the world is that at the end of that long day at work, you come home and complain to your spouse about all your annoying co-workers. That's how it's supposed to work. That is the natural order of the world.

Turns out that when you spend all day with your best friend, he is going to annoy you too, and really for nothing more offensive than eating, breathing, and living.

I'm perceptive enough to know that I cannot say, "Could you PLEASE stop eating, breathing, and living?" Instead, I relocated.

I rearranged some furniture and set up my own workspace overlooking the garden. In a room with a door. Away from the kitchen where all the eating, and much of the breathing and living take place.

It took me more than a few months to realize that we were not going to live up to the idyllic, romantic image I had conjured before my retirement. When I finally did let go of that fantasy, we were able to settle into a livable routine.

The first few days of the "work week" have us out running around, each with our own friends. Not together. Doug has regular biking dates a few days a week; I have class and regular lunch dates scheduled.

Toward the end of the week, we're actually ready to spend the day together, catching up over a hike or bike ride, or lunch and a movie when the weather is bad. Our weekends are filled with social engagements that we enjoy together with friends.

We each have our household areas of responsibility, I do the cleaning, Doug takes care of dinner. I am a night owl, so I stay up an hour or two after he goes to bed, and he has the mornings to himself before I wake up.

He needs a little more social time with friends than I do, which leaves me more of the alone time I need. He likes TV more than I do, so I immerse myself in a book when he's cheering on the San Jose Sharks or his favorite American Idol contestant.

Now I know I'm not the only one that has had to adjust to the reality of us both being home together, Doug had been retired for years before I crashed the party.

He'll have to write a guest post if he wants to share that trauma first-hand, but I think it's fair to say, his retirement has become a whole lot different with the introduction of a new face around his water cooler.

Comments for Retired and Married: Spending All Day, Every Day, with your Spouse...

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Sitting all day at the pc
by: Anonymous

Moved to it's own page so that you will get comments from others! Hoping we can help you!

Can relate to the AF wife
by: Anonymous

I too have the honor of being the other half of a man who served our country. I should have learned from my Mother that when they retire, they will not find peace doing anything else but being a soldier.

I am not saying all men are like this, I have an ex who has reinvented himself several times since his career. The one I am currently with, retired about a year before I met him. I just kept thinking he would get back to his life at some point. Well almost 4 years later, he is still doing the same thing, day in, day out. It got so bad that when a job offer came to me in a military town, my pay was good, and MAYBE he would be happy being back with his own kind.

He decided he didn't like where I had moved so he stayed in the non-military town. 13 months later, he is still in the old town, calling me, emailing me, when are you coming back? No matter how much you try to prop them up, if they have no drive or ambition, save yourself.

It is sad and frustrating for me, because he is a brilliant man and we do have so much in common. I have tried to be supportive by suggesting things for him to do to no avail. I wish the military would just keep them in some capacity. I have watched more men than I care to fall into the my life is over rut, because the military is their world. It has to be or they die.

Don't mention therapy, they are too proud. I will pray for AF wife along with others. I unfortunately don't see a future anymore with this man, but feel guilty if I cut ties.

need to say....
by: AnonymousCrazyWoman

thank you for allowing anonymity because what I feel is dangerous for a marriage.

Four months of him here constantly and I am so depressed I can hardly move..much less push myself out for activities. I feel totally smothered; my space invaded, no time to myself.

My most damaging thought is 'I just don't like this person'!
He has been true blue, devoted, good provider. But on a daily basis grumpy,griping, negative. The only time I could truly relax was when he was gone. No relaxation in this toxic atmosphere.

With what little sense I have, I pray for God to help me change my attitude.

Thanks for a place to vent.

Thank you
by: Anonymous

I have had a year of unemployment... and it has shown me what the future will be... It is time for me to make some difficult decisions... Life is too short to waste any more time doing things I don't enjoy and feeling like I have a ball and chain around my neck. Your post has made me realize that it's up to me to change my circumstances or suffer the consequences. Thank you.

by: Anonymous

My husband retired after 25 years in the service. He didn't consult me and had no prospects for work. He's 50 and he behaves as though he's done with life, done with work and due to the fact that he has 0 friends, I have become his hobby.

While he was in the AF I was in charge of our home, the bills, the kids and he was perfectly happy being the Commander. Now that he's retired he's the Couch Commander. He is in my chili so to speak. I can't have lunch with girlfriends and to be honest he acts like a woman. Complete with "why don't you want to be with me?"

I am used to being on my own, and I enjoy it. I have a pt job and I took it so that we could have some time apart.

Whenever I am home, I'm constantly told how I could do things better. He accuses me of shutting him out, but to be honest, the years of him being deployed and me handling it all have left me somewhat detached.

It's coming up on a year that he's been home. The ONLY time I have to myself is when I'm working. I WISH that I wanted to spend every waking moment with him, but alas I'm human and I just don't want to!

I hope that he finds something to do soon.....

I do love him and I've been supportive about him taking the year off, moving to a new state with no family around, cutting our pay in half and basically watching him bore himself to death day after day.. but I'm really and sincerely done!

Old Saying...
by: Anonymous

"Retirement is half as much money,
with twice as much spouse!"

Good One! Wendy

by: Marge Sallee

Your article brought back many memories. In the beginning when we were first married, I was amazed that we really didn't gain that much more time to spend together. He had his job and I had mine. We went in different directions; we didn't even ride to work together. But that was okay.

Then came years of child raising, and he worked nights because it paid more. Sometimes it seemed like we spent even less time together because he had to sleep during the hours when the children and I were awake.

Finally I retired before he did, but when he retired, he was exhausted from working overtime for so long. He never seemed to stay awake long day or night. When he finally caught up on his rest, I was ready to adopt a schedule where we could sleep in until 7 AM after all those years of working.

Boy, was I wrong! He discovered the farm show came on at 4:30 AM and he didn't want to miss that! Sometimes I could roll over and just sleep a little longer. Other times I heard every little sound from the living room and ended up watching the farm show, too.

Now we are living separate lives at times. He gets up early and goes to bed with the chickens. He turns on the TV in the bedroom, and I come to the computer and sit here typing half the night.
I can't manage without an afternoon nap and sometimes they are long ones.

But those time when we are both awake, we savor conversation and shared experiences. We know we are better off together than with anyone else, and we find that relationships endure regardless of the schedules we keep.

Life together is very good, indeed.

Thanks Marge!! Wendy

by: Anonymous

Sounds like you figured out a good solution... I don't think we have yet.

Me being on xanax has helped a lot!!!!!!

by: Anonymous

Diana, You did well in re-arranging your time and
space. My husband was 9 years older and he retired before I did. Our house was his domain.

I got a part-time job and signed up for
some computer classes at college. Our
community college had senior classes that
we could afford.

My daughter wanted to move up to Washington State, where I was living. She planned to go to college there. She bought a home.

Then the children's Dad threatened a custody battle and the out-of-state tuition cost changed her mind. I took over the house payments.

My son in Idaho needed a Spokane address for work so I shared the home and cost with him. So I had my own office there.

Finally he moved back to Idaho and I sold the house. Spent more time at home.

My husband continued to go on hunting and fishing trips with his brother.

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