What happens when your husband says, “Okay, I am going to retire now.”
You start thinking about how it’s going to go. Which leads you to reflect on your time together as the predicter of possible outcomes…
Silent Bob and Janet have been married a long time. Like a hundred years or something.
It’s this writer’s experience that marriage succeeds through concessions.
Some of them are arbitrated and argued over in endless cycles. (There are more of these in the early years, usually less once one of them goes post menopausal.)
Others are tacitly arrived at, too sensitive or too minor to have the words that describe the issue spoken out loud. These are the ones ‘Silent’ Bob prefers, IF they are a inevitable as it seems they are.
There are ones that are one sided and explicit. Like the one where Janet has let SB know that should she find out he is having an affair, she promises to cut him into pieces and feed him to the Texas feral hogs that chew up everything in the back pasture at their farm. She usually follow this up with “we’ve gone through too much for me to put up with something like that at this point.” This is definitely a one sided conversation, uh, concession.
Oftentimes concessions in a marriage are negotiated around work load, in and out of the home. SB and Janet have had separate jobs and have worked together. They’ve been without work and had too much work. One of the most consistent factors of SB’s work life has been to leave the house and travel to work by 5 am. For decades. It is safe to say that of all the things that retirement promises, this way high on his list of not doing any longer.
Janet was a bit worried about this aspect of life and SB’s vision of retirement. The division of labor in their home had been non standard. Silent Bob was what other males might consider a blessed man. He’d had two women taking care of him for quite a while. Once his Mother in law moved into their home when the youngest was 3, three decades ago, he never wanted for freshly ironed shirts, manicured lawns accomplished during his work hours, or home cooked meals. Not exactly as idyllic as it might sound, because nothing in this life really is, he did have the blessing to concentrate mostly on his work outside of the home. As he was planning his retirement, one of those women who took care of him all these years needed her own turn for care. Battling the unfortunate decision of smoking at least a pack and half forty years ago, his Mother in law did not escape the consequences of those actions. She might be a ‘very strong’ woman as her doctor likes to describe her, but chemo treatments every three weeks is not a trivial event. So it was a bit unclear, couched in a bit of trepidation and yet largely undiscussed, exactly what the concessions and ensuing ramifications might be as Silent Bob moved full time into the dynamics of 24/7 home life. The flux of home work and task assignments between the parties involved was changing by the month. And contrary to what might seem like the focus of retirement, leisure time and freedom from work wasn’t really the trend going on at their home.
It’s this writer’s observation that we humans are at our best when we are working, whether at something we enjoy or something so incredibly tedious you might lose your mind. She is of the firm belief that retirement should hopefully give you the freedom to work on those things that jazz you because at the age of retirement much else does, with the added benefit of doing them at your chosen pace and time.
Janet was definitely hoping that she and SB’s philosophy on life and work and retirement would mesh.
There was one other serious concern about SB’s retirement plan, namely his wife’s sleeping habits. His wife a long term insomniac, SB’s absence from the house in the early morning had led him to believe that she caught up on sleep in the early morning and that there were long leisurely mornings ahead, with coffee served up a little before noon.
Uh No. Insomniac. Something magical doesn’t happen at 6am to make sleeping more amenable.
So, how’s it going, you might ask.
Well, there you go. With the exception of the sleeping issue, which is not likely to be resolved until that final one, pretty damn good.
A nice little collaboration, a waltz of sorts is evolving between the two of them, late in their married life.
SB is known to start the dishwasher and move the clothes to the dryer. He beats Janet for remembering to take the dad blasted recycle out so that it gets picked up at 5am and he’s taken over a great deal of the canning of vegetables and fruits, doing so with a great deal more success than Janet. With the extra pair of hands around, Janet is learning to be a little bit less tsetse fly-ish…very small increments that, but a little.. okay a tiny bit of progress is better than none.
It turns out that after 100 years of marriage, or maybe because they weathered some storms that could have destroyed them as a unit, they have something of a handle on conceding at the right time and in the right way with a minimal amount of spoken word, which SB finds very attractive.
SB, my prayer is that you have a long, long time to enjoy your well deserved retirement. May your golf game bring you joy, remember there are still pigs in the back pasture, and well, thank you for all the hard work for all those years.
And oh yes, I love you.
May you both continue to adjust with grace, and my hope is for you both to enjoy this time you have. I love you and am so happy you have each other. Prayers for your mom too.
Nice to “see” you Janet!!! xo, Jill
I so enjoy your shares. You seem to make me smile inside as
my outside of me is chuckling, when I take the time to read
your stories. Just wanted you to know, if anyone inspires me to even begin to think I could write, it is you. Maybe when I
retire on Dec 31st this year, I will try my luck at it!
Thanks again, lovely
It was great to see that you have found time to share your joys with all of us again. Perhaps the past reflections would be turned into a FABULOUS book.
So very proud to hear from you, dear Janet! I’m heartbroken to hear of your Mother’s health. I’m praying for her and all of you.
Ahhhh….retirement. You are the epitomy of grace!
I took that leap recently. That 4 a.m. alarm just became too much. I admit I was a bit lost at first, but critters & flowers brought me back to my senses.
Your ‘100’ year marriage has survived so much. May you both be blesssed during these golden years as you find a new rythm to life’s ebb & flow; may SB discover with grace, that insomnia is a hell in & of itself (and you have help feeding him to the pigs should he falter now 😉
Much love & congratulations!!!