The highs and lows of the first few weeks of retirement… 21



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When retirement comes, two people that previously spent many hours each day apart, are thrown together, normally in the wife’s domain, the house.
This can cause friction and some ‘getting use to’, on both sides. This is how one man handled the change.

At retirement he found himself at home, with his wife, seemingly under her feet, all day, every day. This was foreign to him as he was a tradesman, and used to being in different places and meeting different people each day. He would criticise her morning TV show for just being about women’s stuff: “Those models could do with a good feed”.

She hated watching the news and sport, four or five times a day. He would notice dust on the furniture and wipe it with his hanky, the same hanky that he had use to mop up who knows what, in the garden ten minutes before. She would pick up her puzzle book, for five minutes rest, and find half of the puzzles had been started, but only the easy bits.

He would read the paper, and find that she had torn recipes out, taking the editorial on the other side of the page. She would watch, as he stared at the ironing and folding sitting in the basket until after lunch as it was normally done while she watched ‘the soapies’.

He despised ‘the soapies’ that his wife hadn’t missed in years; he would walk in and out of the back door letting the screen door slam.

She would talk while he was trying to watch a documentary, he couldn’t work out why she couldn’t wait until the ads were on, to ask about the neighbour’s cat. He would say ‘I don’t know’ when asked ‘what he would like for dinner?’, then screw his nose up at the plate when he thought that she was not looking.

Even though they have been married for almost 40 years, each had different views, ideas, hopes, dreams and ways of doing things.

He found that they were snapping and occasionally snarling at each other over the silliest things. Like, “I asked you get the washing in!”, “But I was in the garden talking to my veggies.” One day, he was working building something for their grand kids and she snapped at him, he asked her quietly to just sit down for a moment. He pulled out the tape measure to 100cm and put it on the table before her.

She looked quite bemused, as he spoke. “How old do you think we will be before we are too old or die?” His mother had recently died at 86, so he suggested 88, 90?

So he put a pencil at 90 on the tape measure. She still looked suspiciously at him. “Now how old are you now?” He winked and put a pencil at 60, and continued, pointing to the lower end of the tape measure.

“That much of our life has gone, there is nothing we can do about that, it’s gone. We only have this small piece here left,” He pointed to much smaller bit between 60 and 90.

“This is the only piece of our life that we still have left to go. Do we want to waste it, arguing about the silliest things? I would much prefer to be living it, happily with my best friend,” he paused and smiled, “even if she does gets cranky when I forget to bring the washing in”.

He looked at her, let go of the lock on the tape and the blade raced quickly, loudly snapping back in place, this startling his wife and he walked off to the shed, and continued building.

That was some years ago now.

Sure, they still have different points of view of course, as all couples do, but just sometimes, they get to a certain point in their verbal debate, when one of them asks the other, “Have you seen my tape measure?”

They both smile, get over their stupidity and get on with loving each other and loving life.


Was your husband or wife under your feet when they retired? How did you fix the problem, or did it just go away? Share your stories with us in the comments below… 

David Perrott

David like many others of the time left school at 15 to get a job, to live, he was never very good at school anyway. After a struggle, his diverse career took him to many places, from Melbourne to Mt Isa, from Triabunna in Tasmania to Townsville, and many places in between. He is an internationally published author, but now he finds himself over 60, and contending with some hugely changed and challenging circumstances, that were inconceivable 5 years ago. He has recently published a coffee table book filled with stories and photos which can be purchased via his website

  1. All of this is so true to anyone who has faced retirement together. It is not easy to begin with but if we all had the tape measure to refer to, it makes a lot of sense.

  2. I’ve spent all week cleaning the house & am now cooking the Christmas lunch for all the family who are arriving soon. Against my wishes my husband is outside playing with his car. He is in old raggy clothes & his hands will be covered in grease. He won’t bother getting cleaned & will just get nasty if I try to nag him.
    He thinks I am such a fussy person! No I don’t fight ; I’ve had enough!!!

  3. Froney go & give him a big hug I would have my dear messy husband back & never say a word about being messy but I lost him 6 years ago I miss him so much cheers

    1 REPLY
  4. When I retire ……….. I am going to
    RETYRE … the tread is going from slicks to knobblies.
    NOT NOT NOT RE TIRE ING!!!!!!!!! IM tired enough,
    Gunna get RE TREAD ED…….im tread ing a new road!!!

  5. Im not going to RETIRE ….. who wants to RE TIRED
    Im tired enough
    Im going to get RETYRED
    Im getting RETREADED !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Re tread ed…yep. tread a new road………

  6. Joy having him according to the stats he has a greater of dying before you. I lost my in 1983 and sons and I have suffered in many ways. I have had to be both mother and father. A tough job

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