Just the other day, my friend Srini posed a question that his wife had wanted to ask. Now that my wife and I are spending all our time at home, she wanted to know if we get on each other’s nerves?
I was concerned about exactly this aspect as I was leaving my job last year. In many ways, I feel that this is an even more pertinent retirement question than the questions about finance, which is what most people first think of.
In our case, for the most part, we are handling all this extra time together fine, though this is really more than a yes-or-no question. The fact that both of us left our jobs at around the same time has worked in our favor. In several retirement books, I have read that the second spouse (one who retires later) ends up disrupting the rhythm and the free time that the first spouse has gotten used to. This causes some resentment and leads to arguments.
Over the first few weeks of being home-bound, we re-divvied up the chores in ways that seem fair. We’ve fallen into a pattern of activities that we end up doing together (movies, TV, library visits and even grocery shopping) and there are times when we just do our own things.
From time to time, I will relocate to a different room just to get some space. I zealously carve out time to read books alone. I meet friends for coffee and have occasionally headed off alone to events, bookstores or to a coffee-shop to be by myself.
Lesson: Before you retire, have a discussion with your spouse on what you expect to be doing together and agree on having some time alone for each of you alone (if that’s important to you.) The biggest trick (I think) is to be able to catch the trigger points that lead to repeated arguments.
So to answer the original question, overall we’ve worked to reach an equilibrium without getting on each other's nerves. And I have actually been surprised that it has turned out better than I expected it to.
A lesson in exchange for memorable photos
6 years ago