Originally Published: June 18, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: Can you give me some advice about how to adjust to my husband’s imminent early-ish retirement? He is a nice guy, but he has no life. He has no friends or interests outside the home. He is introverted and sedentary and has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and frankly, I am dreading his full-time presence. I have been a pretty introverted stay-at-home mom and stay-at-home wife for 30 years. Now he will be here all day, puttering, reading, working halfheartedly on a hobby or two that he will pick up and then drop. He will be bored to death, and in turn, so will I.
My stomach is roiling. I am not responsible for his happiness. He never cared about mine, being very self-centered for 40 years now. Will we settle into a “new normal”? I am willing to try to make life as pleasant as possible and will be here till the bitter end, but I dread his hangdog clomp-clomp-clomp down the stairs, staring out at the empty street 10 times a day, running to answer the phone, and staring at me with that sad boredom. — Retirement Is Looming
Dear Retirement Is Looming: Your golden years are meant for basking in, not suffering through — yet you’re not alone. Many women who are used to plenty of time at home to themselves have a hard time adjusting to their husbands’ retirement. The good news is that you’re recognizing the issue now and you can take steps to prepare.
Protect your “me” time by taking up hobbies that will get you out of the house. Visit the website Meetup to find clubs in your area, and spend more time with your friends, even though you’re an introvert.
Express your concerns to your husband. Together you can brainstorm activities you might both enjoy (such as cooking or dancing classes) or places you’d like to travel to.
If the idea of spending any time at all with him seems utterly dreadful or if he absolutely refuses to try anything new, then I suggest you seek marriage counseling. Perhaps retirement is the catalyst that will help you rediscover the joy of each other’s company.
Dear Annie: I belong to a bridge group, all women in our 70s. We have a lot of fun together. The problem is that one of the women, “Cheryl,” is very loud and talks constantly. If someone else in the group tells a story, Cheryl comments all through the story, interrupting and making the story about her own experiences. She complains that other women in the group talk too much or retell the same stories when she is the guiltiest of both offenses. We really do love Cheryl, and she is a lot of fun, but the group is socializing less and less often just to avoid listening to Cheryl. She knows that she talks loudly and too much, because she has commented about how people hurt her feelings when they say they hear her no matter where they are. We would love your advice about how to handle this issue in a kind way. — Wanting to Plug Our Ears in Florida
Dear Wanting: She’ll be hurt if you tell her she’s loud, but she’ll be even more hurt if she finds out that she’s the reason you’ve all been spending less time together. The kindest thing you can do — whether or not she recognizes it as a kindness — is to pull her aside and tell her what you told me: Everyone in the group loves her, but she needs to try talking more quietly and less often.