Thursday, December 5, 2013

Relationships and retirement

The couple, who we have known for over 25 years is in trouble. The husband, who was a leader in his specialization had just finished his latest book and he had just retired. For some men, of my age, retirement does not go well at first. He suddenly lost his sense of identity, he was no longer a specialist, no longer an author, no longer allowed to be active in the sports he loved (due to a health issue). He was lost, and frustrated because his wife who had retired seven years before still had an active network and a healthy social live outside of the marriage.

 So to solve the issues of his wife spending too much time away from him, he started to make demands that she withdraw from her social life and devout more time to him. She, at first complied but his demands kept coming and his view narrower. She did not know how to fill the dishwasher correctly, she did not fold his t-shirts the correct way. He did say to her that there was no problem because from his perspective he had told her what she had to do to fix things.

Some men who retire cannot cope well with the loss of identity that comes with loss of professional or work status, they flounder for a time, and some will come to their senses with time and realize that they are not just their job or profession, and they find a new way to define themselves. Maintaining strong social relationships are key to a successful and long life and my hope is that our friends find a way to come through this struggle together.

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