The Golden years are
Beginning to Tarnish
My worst nightmare has become
reality. My husband retired. As the CEO of his own software
company, he used to make important decisions daily. Now he
decides when to take a nap and for how long. He does not play
golf, tennis or bridge, which means he is at home for what
seems like 48 hours a day. That's a lot of togetherness.
changed since he stopped working. My husband now defines "sleeping
in" as staying in bed until 6 a.m. He often walks in
the morning for exercise but says he can't walk if he gets
up late. Late is 5:30. His morning routine is to take out
the dog, plug in the coffee and await the morning paper. (And
it had better not be late!) When the paper finally arrives,
his favorite section is the obits. He reads each and every
one -- often aloud -- and becomes angry if the deceased's
age is not listed. I'd like to work on my crossword puzzle
in peace. When I bring this to his attention, he stops briefly
-- but he soon finds another article that must be shared.
couples enjoy this time of life together. Usually, these are
couples who are not dependent on their spouse for their happiness
and well-being. My husband is not one of these individuals.
Many wives I've spoken to identify with my experience and
are happy to know that they're not alone. One friend told
me that when her husband retired, he grew a strip of Velcro
on his side and attached himself to her. They were married
43 years and she hinted they may not make it to 44. Another
woman said her husband not only takes her to the beauty shop,
but goes in with her and waits! Another said her husband follows
her everywhere but to the bathroom . . . and that's only because
she locks the bathroom door.
leave the house, my husband asks: "Where are you going?"
followed by "When will you be back?" Even when I'm
at home he needs to know where I am every moment. "Where's
Jan?" he asks the dog. This is bad enough, but at least
he hasn't Velcroed himself to me -- yet.
see retired couples shopping together in the grocery store.
Usually they are arguing. I hate it when my husband goes shopping
with me. He takes charge of the cart and disappears. With
my arms full of cans, I have to search the aisles until I
locate him and the cart, which is now loaded with strange-smelling
cheeses, high-fat snacks and greasy sausages -- none of which
was on the shopping list.
up with annoying habits is easier when hubby is at work all
day and at home only in the evening and on weekends. But little
annoying habits become big annoying habits when done on a
daily basis. Hearing my husband yell and curse at the TV during
the evening news was bad enough when he was working, and it
was just once a day. Now he has all day to get riled up watching
Fox News. Sometimes leaving the house isn't even a satisfying
reprieve. When I went out of town for a week and put him in
charge of the house and animals, I returned to have my parrot
greet me with a mouthful of expletives and deep-bellied belches.
It wasn't hard to figure out what had been going on in my
my husband has any problem acting out while I'm around. He
recently noticed that our cat had been climbing the palm trees,
causing their leaves to bend. His solution? Buy a huge roll
of barbed wire and wrap the trunks. After wrapping 10 palms,
he looked like he had been in a fight with a tiger and the
house took on the appearance of a high-security prison. Neighbours
stopped midstride while on their daily walks to stare. I stayed
out of sight. In the meantime, the cat learned to negotiate
the barbed wire and climbed the palms anyway.
now another hot, dry summer, and the leaves on our trees are
starting to fall. Yesterday my husband decided to take the
dog out for some fresh air. They stood in the driveway while
he counted the leaves falling from the ash tree. Aloud. Another
meaningful retirement activity.
my husband enjoys being at home with me. I am the one with
the problem. I am a person who needs a lot of "alone
time," and I get crazy when someone is following me around
or wanting to know my every move. My husband is full of questions
and comments when I am on the phone, working on my computer
or taking time out to read. It is his way of telling me he
wants to be included, wanted and needed. I love that he cares
-- but he still drives me up the wall.
a lot of catalogs. In one there is a pillow advertised that
says grow old with me: The best is yet to be. Another catalog
has a different pillow. It reads: Screw the golden years.
Right now it's a toss-up as to which pillow will best describe
our retirement years together. Just don't ask me while I'm
working on my crossword puzzle.
Jan Zeh writes from Houston, Texas. (c) 2004, Newsweek Inc.
All rights reserved.Reprinted by permission.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004