Unexpected Dilemmas of a Retired Professional Woman
When we began to contemplate potential retirement, my husband and I focused on the more standard concerns, including, will we be financially comfortable, where shall we live, can we afford to travel, etc.
But I did not contemplate the role reversals that I would encounter.
For example, for 50 years I avoided all of the skills that my mother had perfected as a housewife. Whereas she was a wonderful cook, seamstress, mother of 5 children, and housekeeper full of organizational skills, I steadfastedly avoided those tasks and as a single parent, my daughter and I ate fresh produce and meals that literally required no preparation or cooking.
Although I made time to become involved in her schools and tried my best to help her in schoolwork, my mother was a Scout troop leader, very involved in PTA and her life was focused on us.
I met my husband at the age of 61 and he was 70 when we married. And gradually I recognized that absolutely none of my skills as a hospital administrator who worked with numerous professional men were necessary. In fact, they were rather harmful.
All of my associates at work had been men, and after retiring, I wanted to continue socializing with them. And this seemingly practical relationship became gradually more challenging.
For example, when we attended social events or traveled to see a play, these previous friendships became awkward. I could no longer sit in the front seat to discuss events or office issues with my original friend and began to try to get to know my friend's wife in the back seat. Often the wife was amazingly skilled in the very activities that I had never performed, or performed poorly.
I frequently felt totally incompetent and considered myself as a failure.
Needless to say, many of our friendships with other couples have required us to rethink who we are and what will and will not work for us. Some relationships have not been maintained. And some new friendships have been nurtured and are successful.
I am still searching for areas in which I can be more successful and where I can feel competent, and my husband remains a far better cook and housekeeper than I am!
Am I alone in this new dilemma?
Thanks for your thoughts!