“Hi, Honey, I’m Home…Forever!”

There are endless quips regarding marriage and retirement.

“When you retire you switch bosses – from the one who hired you, to the one that married you.” (Gene Perret)

“When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband and half the salary.” (William Mitchell)

“A married husband is often a wife’s full-time job.” (Ella Harris)

“Warning: Retired person on premises. Knows everything and has plenty of time to tell it.” (Annonymous)

And the title quote (also from Gene Perret).

I’m sure that you can add others….

A year before I retired, I diligently began to read all that I could on the emotional side of retiring. The work that I read on marriage and retirement stopped me in my tracks. Much of this research hammered out the frequently mismatched perceptions of couples once retiring (ranging from different opinions on money, time together/apart, chores, daily activities, travel, family commitments, etc., etc.). According to this research, this misalignment can lead to marital breakdown where, as several studies found, a quarter of American divorces take place with couples who are fifty-years or older. (Yogev, 2012) It can also apparently lead to such strange phenomena as
“Shujin Zaitaku Sutoresu Shoukougun,” literally “One’s Husband Being at Home Stress Syndrome.” (BBC News, 2006-11-29) The more I read, the bleaker the news. I quickly quit reading.

After nineteen months of being officially retired, what is my personal experience with marriage and retirement? Without being too much of a schmoopie, I couldn’t be happier. So much so that I went back to the research with fresh (but slightly more experienced) eyes. What did I find?

• Sixty percent of couples report that there is (ultimately) an improvement in their marriage after retirement. (Forbes, 2007)
• Compared with a matched sample of working men, male retirees
reported higher levels of marital satisfaction. (Kulik, 1999)
•Both wives and husbands tend to indicate greater marital satisfaction if they retired at the same time. (Forbes, 2007) Although, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, fewer than twenty percent of American couples retire in the same year.
• Married couples are twice as likely to save for retirement, often giving them more financial security in their retirement years. (Social Security Administration)
•Retirement reinforces the pre-existing quality of individual marriages, e.g. retirement tends to have a positive effect on marriages that were previously strong and happy, and a negative effect on marriages that were previously shaky. (Missouri Families)

I also went back to Yogev’s research. If I hadn’t quit reading her work so early, I would have realized that it was filled with practical tips and just plain good advice for starting retirement as a couple on a positive note. e.g. :

•Take time and think about what each of you would like to do during retirement
•Communicate openly
•Be specific by what you mean
•Be willing to compromise
•Set boundaries
•Find shared interests
•Ensure individual personal space
•Designate household tasks
•Allow yourself to take baby steps on new endeavors – you seldom need to rush
(Yogev, 2012).

As I perused these strategies, I shuddered with gratitude. I am realistic about my shortcomings and am thankful to have someone who balances out areas where I am not naturally inclined. As in dancing, the moves are more effortless, and enjoyable, with a strong, steady partner. Someone who can both seamlessly lead, and follow, allowing you to find your own unique steps as an individual while maintaining harmony as a team. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Happy 17th Anniversary, Richard. There are no words to express my deepest love and appreciation.

January 21, 2000
Back to the scene of the crime!

__________
Yogev, Sara. A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement: For Better or Worse …But Not for Lunch, Familius, Second Edition, 2012.

For those who have not seen Seinfeld’s take on schmoopies recently, you really should watch it now!
And if you missed my (slightly ‘schmoopied’) anniversary post last year, you can catch it here.

40 Replies to ““Hi, Honey, I’m Home…Forever!””

  1. Hi Donna, I’m not married, never have been, so don’t have any direct experience with the content of your post. Nevertheless, I’ve heard and believed all of the jokes and dire warnings about couples after retirement. I love disconfirming research! It’s fascinating to learn that couples are happier when they retire at the same time (so many couples I know stagger their retirements). It’s also very good to know that if a marriage is happy before retirement, it will be happy after. Happy Anniversary.

    1. Thanks, Karen – I greatly appreciate your comments. I believe that regardless of our status, we are all currently changing the ‘rules’ and ‘preconceived notions’ of retirement. It truly is an exciting time to be retired.

    1. Thanks, Joanne. I’m not sure that Richard and I have retirement life, and all that goes with it, fully nailed down yet. But we are enjoying the adventure!

  2. As your neighbours up the road we know that you and Richard are enjoying life and each other. It’s great to you know you as individuals and as a couple.
    All the best to you both. Many blessings in the years ahead.

  3. My husband, who is slightly older, retired 4 years before me. It gave him a chance to settle in and find his own stride. By the time I retired, he had his rhythm, giving me an opportunity to find my own stride. We never had issues nor did we dictate work tasks to the other. We each know what has to be done and projects are agreed upon in advance. There is no honey-do list. It’s been a peaceful and interesting transition. Sometimes we do things together but we also do a lot of things alone. I love gardening, he makes furniture. I could not have been more blessed with such a peaceful retirement. BTW in your wedding picture, your husband looks a lot like Charlie Sheen!
    Kate recently posted…Sassy cats – Gracie’s storyMy Profile

  4. Happy anniversary, Donna! I love the quotes about retirement. They remind me of all the funny ones about owning a sailboat. :-). I think it is an immense adjustment for couples to live 24/7 without having done that before. You need to be a team, understanding, loving, caring for, and respecting each other. And, very important: communication and personal space! Congrats on doing so well and being a happy retiree!
    Liesbet recently posted…Rocklin, CA: October 14th, 2016 – January 10th, 2017My Profile

    1. Hi, Liesbet – 24/7 definitely has been an adjustment for us. But so far…so good. We are now off for our ‘anniversary walk’ (31 K from our home to Deez Grill in Qualicum Beach). Lots of beach front walking!

  5. Happy anniversary. Love your inspiring words and quotes as I am about to embark on this retirement route in June. This comes with dubious caution after 43 married years of work and business being the fore front of our lives. Long may you both continue to grow into your retirement with the happiness and harmony it has given you so far.

  6. Aww, happy anniversary (same day as my daughter’s birthday–her 29th today), you two lovebirds! Love your quotes! My husband gave me the ability to retire at 55 (although I continue teaching which was my “side hustle”). I hear how many retired couples find themselves to be incompatible, so tragic! I sincerely believe that leisure and hobbies are the glue that bind couples together–whether are not they participate together. We talk about retiring for good in 8-10 years. If I get annoyed I’ll merely send him off windsurfing somewhere 🙂

    1. Happy 29th birthday to your daughter! I agree that leisure and hobbies (both done jointly and apart) are important glue for a relationship. Although I am a non-athlete and my husband is a hard-core athlete, we both love hiking. Yesterday, for our anniversary, we hiked 30K into the next town and back. Exhausting but invigorating.
      PS – I love the windsurfing idea!

  7. Wow!!! That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that. My husband and I both work from home, so we’re used to a LOT of together time. I would say it’s different when you’re not working, even if you’re home, but I think I’m probably going to write until I die!

  8. Happy anniversary to you both! Retirement can be a test on a marriage, especially one that had challenges before. The 24/7 togetherness was (is) the toughest for me… I do like my alone time and my husband doesn’t golf. But we love to do many of the same things and are enjoying having the time to do them.

    I love your wedding picture! You looked happy then – and even happier now!
    Janis recently posted…We are the StormMy Profile

    1. Hi, Janis. Your words are very insightful — I hadn’t thought about it quite this way before. It is true. I was extremely happy then (I cried at my own wedding….mush I know)! But I am even happier now!
      Thanks for your kind words!

  9. Congrats on the anniversary! I laughed at the quotes. The one thing that continues to work for us, besides the fact we are still in love after 24.5 years, is a lot of communication. I’d say we have he, she, and we plans, but in reality I’m a planner and he is not. So we have she and we plans. And we talk and I try really hard to listen, so anything remotely like a “he plan” is not “walked over.” Walking the journey together with him by my side has made life so much better. (I’m inspired by your anniversary day walk, too. )
    patricia recently posted…My Month of YogaMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Pat – I agree. Positive, honest, open communication is the key to healthy relationships (both in marriage and in friendship). Our anniversary walk was very cool, and we will definitely do it again…but probably not wait until our next anniversary to do so!

  10. This is another great post to read as we enter this period in our lives. You have done the research and I’m happy to follow on behind you reading, as well as learning, how you’ve made it work . All is going well for us too. I thought the retiring at the same time information interesting! Happy anniversary to you both, great pics!
    Debbie Harris recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – 25 January 2017My Profile

  11. Hi, Donna! Happy to drop by here and read your awesome reflection about being retired and being with your family! I see that you are fond of researching to help you think ahead and expect what it is like to be in a certain time of being retired. I’d like to suggest Medicare and Medicare supplement plans as your topic for your next retirement research. The said two can be confusing and overwhelming, that is why getting to know about it ahead of time will help you decide the coverages you might want to get when the need arise.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights! Wish you more fun retirement adventures with your family.
    Leandro Mueller recently posted…5 Easy Ways To Make Money Post RetirementMy Profile

  12. Happy seventeenth anniversary, Donna and Richard! Rob and I have just passed the nine year mark, and every day we rejoice that we found each other. Interesting facts that you cite on marital relationships in retirement. We have had the chance to test extended periods of being home together via my two sabbatical leaves from work during this period, not to mention eight weeks spent living in a truck and camper. We have found out that we love each other’s companionship, and also have learned to give each other space for independent pursuits. For example, he builds speakers and I paint landscapes. He has a passion for Asian films, and I write novels and poems.

    Jude
    Dr Sock recently posted…Wrote the Letter; Set the DateMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Jude. Sounds like you and Rob have found the perfect combination of time together and time apart. And, if you were able to leave peaceful in a camper for 8-weeks straight, I’d say that you were definitely meant to be! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Mine isn’t retired yet but he works from home so is a constant. We occasionally indulge in days out which feels a bit like truancy. We’re both very different, and that’s not going to change, retired or not. 🙂

    1. Hi, Johanna – Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I love your ‘Monday Walks’ and will definitely be following further!

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