A wife’s guide to surviving her husband’s retirement
The saying “After your husband’s retirement, you’ll have twice as much husband, and half as much money” is putting it mildly.
Gals, let me clue you in. After your husband’s retirement, you can expect several things. First, the aforementioned retired spouse will sleep until nigh onto noon. Then he will get up, follow you around the house, scratching, stretching and yawning (much like a cat) for an hour or so. He will look out every window, change the position of each and every curtain, drape or window shade, check every outdoor thermometer and rain gauge, comment on your every move, all the while carrying and slurping a mug of coffee while making strange and unnerving bodily noises. (I’ve decided those daily and predictable sounds can only be attributed to excess gas and/or acid reflux.)
After a leisurely, unhealthy breakfast, the retired husband will likely sit at the kitchen table reading the morning paper (which he has retrieved from the front lawn in his underwear and socks) until lunchtime. He will complain as he reads about taxes and politicians, gripe about the comics not being as funny as they were in the “old days’, and read aloud everything he finds of interest. Whether it is of interest to you will never concern the retired husband.
When finished with the paper, he will get dressed, right? Wrong. It will not have occurred to him that he is still un-groomed, and his appearance leaves something to be desired. As a retired husband, he seems to feel he is retired from everything, including morning hygiene. Usually, what he will do is realize it is time for lunch. It doesn’t matter that his body hasn’t had time to digest breakfast; the clock says it is TIME to eat. After scouring the refrigerator and making several comments implying there is nothing good to eat, he will proceed to make and devour a sandwich that would put Dagwood to shame.
When he finally vacates the kitchen, you can expect to spend some time cleaning and straightening up after him. There will be bread and potato chip crumbs on the table, chair and floor. All the sandwich ingredients will be setting on the counter. The newspaper will be strewn over the table and floor. His used dishes from breakfast and lunch will be on the table and counter. The leaves and grass he tracked in from the lawn will need swept up.
After lunch, the retired husband will finally decide to get dressed. No two articles of clothing will remotely match, but at least he will be dressed. Now he is all set to “get something done.” That may consist of taking out the trash, checking the oil in the car, changing a burned out light bulb, repositioning his outdoor thermometers and rain gauges, or some other urgent and exhausting task.
Around mid-afternoon, the retired husband will announce he is in need of an afternoon “rest”. He will settle himself in his recliner, television remote control in hand, volume turned on high. Within 5 minutes he will be sound asleep. You will wonder which is louder – his snoring or the blaring television. It does no good to quietly turn off the television; that will instantly wake him, at which time he will remind you that he is watching it. (yea, right)
On rare occasions, the retired husband may decide to undertake a project, such as repairing a broken item, or building something. Be forewarned, this will involve many trips to hardware and/or lumber stores, both near and far, You will notice that even though the project takes place is a specified area, there are screws, nuts, bolts, hammers, masking tape, screwdrivers, nails, step stools and assorted power tools in every room of the house. More than likely there will be a thick yellow extension cord stretched from the garage to the uttermost interior corner of your dwelling, winding up stairways and through doorways. The retired husband will more than once accuse you of moving his “stuff “, which he has somehow managed to misplace. Resist the urge to tell him, “It is probably right where you left it.” Although you and I know it is, he will vehemently deny it. But, alas, I regret to inform you that the project will never get done, as he will move on to something else before it is half finished. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to clean up the mess he left because “he isn’t done with it yet.”
As evening rolls around, the retired husband, who now claims to be “tired” from the day’s activities, resumes his place on the recliner, with a super sized bag of potato chips and tall glass of Pepsi on the end table. He plans on spending the evening watching Mash reruns, The History Channel, The 11 o’clock news, David Letterman, the Late Movie, the Late,late movie, and the Early morning movie. After sleeping through most of them, he will go to bed just before the sun comes up, only to begin his routine all over again nigh onto noon.
So, the question is, “How does a wife survive her husband’s retirement?” Aside from nailing the bedroom door shut after he goes to sleep, you have several options. You can get an outside job, busy yourself with appointments, or volunteer at the local library, school, hospital or soup kitchen. If none of those appeal to you, and you must remain in the same house with the retired husband, look for practical solutions. Try to get the bulk of your chores done while he is sleeping. This is probably the only time he won’t be underfoot. When he is reading the newspaper to you, simply nod and “uh-huh” every so often, while contemplating other things in your head. Send him on errands. That will at least get him out of the house for a while, and give you uninterrupted time to get things done. Remember to continue your own friendships. Have lunch, go to movies, or shop with the gals.
But probably the best advice I can give you is this: Relax; enjoy having him at home. Be glad for him – he doesn’t have to get up every morning and head out to work anymore; he can reap the rewards of a life spent working and providing for his family. Make light of the annoyances and distractions; find amusement in them. Plan things that you can do together, or encourage him to create a hobby. Remember, he isn’t used to free time, and may appreciate your suggestions. Retirement can be a bumpy road at first, but after a year or so, a routine will develop. And surprise, surprise – you will actually begin to enjoy having your retired husband around!