Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When a Spouse Retires

It's here.
My husband works his last day of 'real' work this week.
That's right.
He is retiring...

And I have never been more stressed.
I thought this was an exaggeration, until I did a little research.

According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, developed in 1967 as a way to predict a person's likely hood of becoming ill, Retirement hits about in the center with a score of 45, above such events as vacation, change of personal habits and outranked only by multiple deaths and major imprisonment.

I scored a 289:
Vacation -13- we are just a few weeks away from a first time trip to Las Vegas.
Change in Sleep Habits – 15- I am no longer going to be able to rely on my husband's alarm to get me out of bed. Instead, I am now required to actually GET UP when my stupid alarm goes off. The alarm which is set to get me out of bed in time to work out...
Change in Recreation – 19- I am envisioning multiple days where my plan is going to work but my spouse's plan is sailing, or hiking, or lounging.
Change in Work Hours – 20 – see above.
Change in Personal Habits – 24 - again, see above.
Change in Living Conditions – 25 – I am envisioning a loss of days home alone. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my spouse, but we both noted long ago that time in the house without anyone else around is a luxury of Tag Heuer Watch, Mercedes Benz, Four Seasons Hotel quality. No longer will I have a weekday alone in my Pjs with my pot of coffee, the Today show, my home design game and a texting round robin with family. Oh, I will still do these things, I will just feel guilty about them as my spouse showers, eats a healthy breakfast and begins doing productive things or worse, makes me watch some ridiculous crab fishing show or King of Queens reruns.
Spouse Stops Working – 26 – Helloooo....
Change in Financial State – 38 – Der. We have run the numbers, It will work. Pretty sure...
Retirement – 45 – Okay. I am not the one retiring. But you know what? I feel that being the one NOT retiring in the relationship is actually way more stressful. I have now begun to wonder about my own retirement date. And I have to tell you SIX years is a depressing number right now.

Now all you math wizzes have probably added this up in your head and realized that my number only reaches 226. However, if you figure in the POTENTIAL for Major Imprisonment – 63- from Murder Death of a Spouse – 100-
I actually hit 389 which is OFF THE CHART.

(Oh sure, Rob is the one retiring and planning to start a new career as a substitute teacher in the high school districts around us which places his actual stress level at a 247 but he can start his own blog. Which I bet he does. And he will post way more often than I do and I will feel like a failure and now my stress has shot up another 57 points...)

I digress.

In an effort to cope with the impending life changes I searched my previous education and fell upon the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief. Which feels right as I have noticed that I have a whole lot of grief going on here.

The Stages of Grief were developed in 1969 as a way of coping with death but was later expanded to many other life events such as children working through a divorce. Overindulgent spouses of retiring spouses seems to have been overlooked. Never fear, I am here to walk us through it.

Denial – Denying the inevitable retirement has not been an issue. I have been looking forward to Rob's retirement ever since that morning I was awakened by him clicking the magazine into his side arm.

Anger – No anger here....okay, maybe that 'denial' thing is a little real...Although I can't say I am 'angry' its more of a jealous thing. But then I remember all those years I was home with the kids and Rob was going to school and working a job and a part time job...

Bargaining – I am not a very good bargainer. I prefer concrete numbers. And I ran the numbers multiple times, usually around two in the morning when I should have been asleep. As I recall there were a whole lot of 'dear God, make this work' and 'Lord, can I just have one night of decent sleep' and 'Come on Baby Jesus! Make this the winning lottery ticket'....
(What? You say this isn't true bargaining? You do remember you are dealing with a highly stressed woman here. Do you want me to revisit that Anger phase?)

Depression – It is anticipated that this phase will be entered on Friday September 1 at 0530 when I am required to roll out of bed and go to work while SOMEONE sleeps in and begins what promises to be a fantastic new phase of his life, working prn thus allowing us more days off together in which to travel.

Acceptance – This change is inevitable. Rob has put in way too many years in an underpaid, at times, extremely dangerous job. I am lucky to still have him here, healthy and willing to indulge me in my craziness. Although he is really going to have to get on board with this whole cooking dinner plan. That is inevitable too...

A Retiree in his natural habitat

 Congratulations Rob! 
I am so happy for you and truly looking forward to what this next stage of our life has in store!


  1. Fabulous article, Laura. Ruth and I are working our way through my recent retirement too, and she (as the continuing working spouse) can relate to all you wrote. Me, I'm just thrilled to pieces for Rob. :)

    1. Thank you Richard! Perhaps Ruth and I should form a support group while you and Rob meet up for the early bird special at Cracker Barrel! Lol!

  2. I don't believe men should be allowed to retire. I've been living with a retiree for several years and keep wishing he'd go back to work. Some guys do it well, and others lose their sense of purpose. I hope yours does it well.

    1. I like the way you think! I don't see Rob losing his direction. Thankfully we share similar plans. Hope you and your retiree settle into a good life.


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