What to do when your husband’s retired and you’re not

It was back in January 2008 that my Dear Husband decided that he had enough (earlier than that of course to

It was back in January 2008 that my Dear Husband decided that he had enough (earlier than that of course to put the paperwork in order). You see he had been a high school Computer and Mathematics teacher for 30 years yet he was only 26 years old. He had two rounds of long service leave and did not want to do that again. My suggestion he go to a doctor and get a year’s worth of sick days did not go over well – he was (is) a man of principle, even though I thought he was going through depression. He had lost his elderly parents within six months of each other, his older brother had a debilitating stroke and was in care – he was now literally his “brother’s keeper”. The red tape, the bureaucracy of the school now having to turn a profit plus they wanted him to undertake further study so that he could take on the International Baccalaureate students. My DH knew his time was up – he was burnt out – running off empty – all of the clichés you can name.

In August 2007, good fortune came his way big time. The lotto syndicate he ran at school WON one million dollars! That’s right the big red ball came directly to him! Oh the excitement was enormous, everyone was just so happy for the group of 11. This good fortune (no we did not blow it on trips and cars etc) together with a small inheritance from his parents (also saved) enabled us the following year to move to our “forever home”. We had already paid off the mortgage on our little semi on a very busy main road but we knew we were not going to retire in that house. About 18 months later without really trying very hard I came across the lovely brand-new townhouse we now call home. Not exactly downsizing but absolutely no maintenance, no lawn mowing, although I do miss gardening. We are in a lovely bush surrounding and only 30 minutes by train to the city, really the train is on our doorstep so we can go any which way we choose. Now while we settled into this new environment retirement was nowhere on my radar. I love my husband dearly – but not for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Initially I had great trouble adjusting to him being home all day every day. I was so used to for so long him being at work and the kids at school and then work. I have always worked throughout our 40 year marriage, 10 years of that full time on an afternoon shift in a cigarette factory. I went from being alone a lot of the time to having absolutely no time alone and initially this was very difficult for me. What was I doing, where was I going, these were questions I began to dread. For the last 20 years I have worked in a hospital/Specialist environment three days a week and I do not plan to give this up soon. I tried some long service leave myself last year and I was happy to go back to work and DH was eager to see my behind as well I think!

Another thing that frightens me about my retirement is the financial aspect. You see we have been living off my wages plus savings for the last eight years. I am not complaining to you about this, it was my husband’s choice to leave work early. Sometimes I get resentful and angry that he did not continue on with work for a few more years to build up his superannuation. Sometimes I get very jealous of friends and work colleagues who go on overseas holidays and buy a new car. I just hate that (even if we wanted to) an extended European holiday is out of our means although a car is on the agenda for later this year.

So when asked “when are you retiring Mary?” the answer is the same – when I bloody well feel like it!

Tell us, when did you retire or when do you plan to retire?

Thank you to Mary for sending this in.

  1. Melanie  

    Husband retired six years ahead of me. He’d had enough.
    I kept slogging along, full time, but decided to Retire two years’ earlier than planned.

    Best thing I ever did.
    Have now time to ENJOY life, instead of being tied to daily work routine.
    My health, & fitness, have improved immeasurably, & I’ve lost much weight!
    Met up with former work colleagues’, who all said I look ‘so young’!
    There ya go!

  2. Dianne Marroletti  

    My husband retired in November 2011,I have not as I’m 5 years younger and am not ready yet. It didn’t take long to realize why a lot of spouses of the retiree work! I’m convinced there’s a house somewhere that the wives of retired guys hangout during the day. …can someone please tell me where it is??

  3. Jeannine  

    Was he 56 not 26?

    • Mary Searle  

      Yes definitely a typo there – 56 yrs

  4. Sue  

    Very few of my friends have Melanie’s happy outcome. I’m afraid I’m still looking for that house Dianne and there is a queue behind me. We all agree children should be taught financial benefits but I really do think 40 onward should be given retirement lessons and how to live happily without children. Yes I know everyone’s situation is different but I never saw those habits of his and mine as being so annoying every hour every day every year.

  5. Pamela  

    I can’t believe the selfishness of this woman!
    Can’t stand her husband for 3 meals a day when she is home??
    After a lifetime of work, she wants him to earn her more money so she can keep up with friends??
    “…his time was up – he was burnt out – running off empty…” and she still wanted him to work??
    Sounds like she would have preferred to be a widow with the cash!
    I am appalled! 😛

  6. Warwick Hines  

    I am also one who has been happily retired since about 2006.
    Love not having to use an alarm clock and don’t miss the early morning hustle to get to work!
    I can now take life slowly and enjoy doing anything I want without a timetable.
    Internet surfing, share trading, online chess, and listening to overseas stations, mainly US, on my internet radio are my pastimes.
    Good riddance to work!!

  7. Kathy Ford  

    You see he had been a high school Computer and Mathematics teacher for 30 years yet he was only 26 years old. He had two rounds of long service leave and did not want to do that again.
    How on earth can he be only 26 years old!!!

  8. Lorraine Walker  

    I retired 3 years ago at 62 when the state government encouraged their aged workers to take a package …it was not a great payout but along with our super it paid for our new home.
    My husband is 71 and recently had open heart surgery so will be retiring in 2 weeks time.
    Unfortunately we will no longer enjoy his salary package and will become pensioners so our financial situation will be difficult but we look forward to a new relaxed lifestyle spending time together and enjoying activities within our budget.
    We are just very grateful for what we do have and that we have each other as we are not just a husband and wife of 48 years, we are best friends.
    I appreciate this writers point of view and it seems to be a common one but I could have recently lost my husband before we had a chance to enjoy retirement together, and this is also a common theme. Having separate interests and activities in conjunction with those spent together is an option.

    • Carol Murphy  

      What package ? I’m 69 this year & was eligible to retire at 64 but can’t afford to. What state do you live in ?

  9. I stopped work at 58 as my husband got cancer and needed a lot of care and endless trips to the hospital for treatment. By the time he was well I was nearly 60 and I made the decision not to return to work. We don’t have much super but we own our house, after my husbands health scare we decided to use what money we had for some trips. In reality he was quite resentful that I had not returned to work once he was well and worried we would run out of money too soon. He took a lot of time adjusting to my being home all day. He had retired in 2010. One year on it is going well enough We both have always had seperate social lives plus our joint friends so we do our own thing most days. Hubby is still constantly worried about money , but I live day by day and feel what will be will be.

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