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Ducking the retirement option

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

My husband will turn 67 in a few months, and he's still working four -- sometimes five -- days a week. For him that's a huge cutback, but not very many people would call that retirement.

About a month ago, he announced at breakfast that he was meeting with his boss and intended to tell him that he planned to retire totally next April. In one way, I was delighted with this retirement planning news because it would give us more freedom to spend winters where it is warmer than it is in Detroit (almost anyplace).

Otherwise, the more I thought about having him spending his days at home with no job, the more concerned I got. What was he going to do all day? And would I have time to keep working, which I enjoy? Fidelity Investments did a survey last year and found that 62 percent of spouses don't agree on retirement timing -- so I'm not alone.

When I was too young to worry about this kind of thing, I was friendly with the wife of a co-worker who was in his 80s and still on the job daily. His wife told me that if he ever retired, she was going to have to pack up and move in with her sister in Indiana. I thought that was a reflection on the stability of their very long marriage. But now I know it was just the normal reaction of a wife who goes a little crazy when she considers the possibility that her husband will be underfoot with nothing to do all day long.

So far, I've dodged this bullet. My husband came home from his conversation with his boss with the news that he's going to keep working -- at least until his boss retires, which isn't imminent. Thank goodness.

Once in awhile, I kvetch about my husband working when I would like to be playing, but after this close call, I'm keeping my mouth shut.

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Jeffrey Dorfman
October 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm

To all of you who posted previously to mine: As you may have noticed, retirement is a very personal decision and the circumstances are very different for each of us. You really can't compare one to another. Having said that, I retired last February, mostly due to an upcoming back surgery and my other painfull disabilities. So, you might say, I was forced into retirement. I am 62 years old(or young)and couldn't retire til I reached 62 for Social Security to kick in. That, along with my pension of 24 years working for the same organizaion and my small Naval Reserves pension barely makes it. Thank goodness for my service connected disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now my disabilities(service connected and civilian) have increased to the point that I probably can't work at the types of jobs within my skill set anylonger. I can't walk much and am in somewhat constant pain in my legs and feet, so my retirement days are not what I thought they would be. The moral of this is, retire when you think you can financially afford to if that is your desire. Definately discuss it with family as it all has to do with the comfort zone you will be in and mostly, try not to do "nothing". That contributes to ill health, both physical and mental. I volunteer with my veterans organizations and am becoming more visable for my children's fund raising activities for their specific disability organizations. I seem to be somewhat of a couch potato, but that's mostly due to my aches and pains. Yes, I need to push alittle harder to get out of bed sooner and move around a bit more. That will help me physically too. Good luck to all those retirees and not yet retired. Do what makes you happy and financially able.

October 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Hey Janet-I am totally in agreement with you. My husband took an early retirement at 57. It is now 5 1/2 years later and it drives me crazy. For someone who was type A personality who could never sit still, he now spends all day on the computer looking at shopping sites, watching tv, doing crossword puzzles from the newspapers, and dozing off and on all afternoon. So I volunteer one afternoon a week, and started a part time job a year ago. It ranges from 8-15 hours per week, but it gets me out of the house so I don't have to see him doing nothing. I also have a ladies get together for a few hours every Thursday, sometimes lunch with friends. All my friend's husbands still work with no plans for retirement in the near future. My husband's 3 older brothers all work. He has lost interest in everything. His inactivity has led to some health issues also. Retirement has not been kind to him.

October 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Classic example of having no identity and no interests outside of work. Hobbies and other creative outlets / talents are necessary to leading a well-balanced in life. I can't wait to retire and not travel Monday through Thursday each week flying 200,000 miles each year. At 63, I windsurf, play guitar and sing in a band, play golf, and do woodworking, and I can't wait to have more time to pursue all of my activities. The best part is, my wife also golfs, plays saxaphone, and would rather windsurf than breathe, so we do lots of things together and enjoy each others company. Get out and do something exhilarating and exciting people! Don't let work and boredom define your existence!

M Laird
October 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

My husband retired in 2000 and I retired in 2004. We enjoy each other so much and have been married for 43 yrs. He does his time to himself and I do the same. We travel together . I have waited for this time for many years. We both worked at our respected jobs for over 40 yrs. I am now able to be a wife Mom and Grandmother. My life is great

October 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I retired a month ago after 25 years of teaching. Hubby retired 7 years ago, and has been "waiting for me." I was looking forward to being together, until I did it! Hubby has hobbies, sure, but he's often too tired or in pain from arthritis to do much in the way of fun activities with me. If he's not working on his hobbies, then he's asking me to get his things, come watch TV with him, etc. He doesn't like it if I'm pursuing MY hobbies, since I try to do my crafts in another room, so as not to mess up the living room. He complains if I'm on the computer, but if he's not doing his hobbies, he's watching TV for hours! (He thinks that's fine, tho.)All these years I couldn't wait for this togetherness! But now, he is incapable of the things we did, like take walks on the boardwalk at the shore, ride our horses together, or take walks together in our neighborhood. I'm really disappointed in alot of our time together, which saddens me! So, plan your retirement well!

C Shibley
October 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I can imagine describing my husband retiring as, "dodging a bullet!" Nor would or could I live with the idea that if my husband retired I would have to move in with my sister! How totally sad. My husband is retired from the Military Reserves, and also from the police department and is still working...but together we have a plan in place. He will be 60 in two years and our plan is that he retires and we work on hobbies together, help with the care of our two grandchildren, traveling, volunteering, and about 10 thoughsand other things. Our home is paid for and our 2nd home will be by the end of the 2 years. He has worked hard since he was 15 and by 60 and retiring from 3 jobs should be enough. I guess I am just one lucky lady that we are looking forward to retirement TOGETHER.

Janet Worth
October 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

My husband retired 5 years ago. The first year he did all of the things that he hadn't had time for. Now he is either on the computer, watching tv or taking his afternoon nap, and he is only 64! Am I tired of having him underfoot all of the time? YES. I love him dearly but would love to have him leave at 7 and welcome him home again at 4. I volunteer several days a week just to get out of the house, I don't know how he can stand to just veg out all of the time.

barbara kellly
October 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

My husband retired in January, 2012. I am still working 5 days a week. He reads, he is on his computer and is a news junky. I go home for lunch and back to work and I like him home for running to the store, repairs in the house, gas in my car and wash to fold from the dryer. He is not stressed anymore and is always pleasant. I like him home.

October 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

When my dad retired he became less stressed out & more playful. He & my mom bonded more & went on a lot of cruises.
He found a ton of things 2 do. When I went home 2 visit he was always busy, busy, busy. Infact, I've heard that most people say they become busier after retirement.

On the other hand, it's always nice to have that extra income.

October 26, 2012 at 9:36 am

This is an interesting perspective of being retired together. Though I have to ask, why wouldn't your husband have anything to do? Do neither of you have hobbies that would allow each of you to have some space? I can't help but think I'd be perfectly fine being retired with my husband because there is plenty I would like to do that I don't currently have time for. But maybe I'm just young and naive.