Time shared in leisure .. or .. What will I expect of him?

This is another one of the things that keeps floating around in my mind as I reflect on my experience in this transition-to-retirement period when I’ve had more days of relaxation than work.  I find myself going through days relaxed and calm.  I make sure to make my first priority getting some good exercise.  By early afternoon I can do some work; on the syllabus for the Social Justice in Education course that I teach in the Masters of Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson University, or on the final assignments I need to submit for the certificate I’m studying for in teaching English as a Second Language to adults, or maybe on the blog, or reading, or watching TV, or meditating. Or gardening; which I’m enjoying for the first time in my life, likely because for the first time I have enough time to really take care of my garden.

I work for a few hours.  It’s now a little after 4 o’clock and I find myself turning my thoughts to preparing dinner.  I go downstairs and do some prep work; getting ingredients ready for combining in final prep.  I check with David to see what time he thinks he’ll get home; by the time I call he’s likely already left his office and can give me a fairly accurate ETA.  I continue to intermittently prepare dinner and do other things that make me happy (maybe a little weeding in the front garden, maybe watering) and I find myself really looking forward to his being home and having some time to share relaxing together.

Times passes, he gets home.  He’s exhausted and highly tense; there was an accident on the QEW and what should have been a 45 minute drive turns into nearly 2 hours and that was on top of a day full of problems to solve.  He’s hungry, as am I by now.  We enjoy our meal together, lounging side by side and watching TV.  The show we watched while eating draws to an end.  One of several things seem to happen next:  he’s already fallen asleep because he’s so exhausted, he says let’s just go sleep because he’s so exhausted, or he says he’s really exhausted but he has 2 hours of work he has to do still tonight.  A little disappointed that we’re not getting to just “hang out” together after all, I either help with the clean-up to get it done faster or just do the clean-up while he’s either napping or already getting into his work so he can finish sooner.  Seems fair.

The thing is, there are few things I’d rather do when I’m happy and relaxed than hang out with David.  Already I feel more relaxed and happier much of the time.  Even the days that I am still going into the office I am finding that I don’t feel the stress of the work in the same way; I do the work with full commitment to it but because I know that whatever influence on the outcome of this work that I might have if I didn’t retire essentially dissipates with retirement, it doesn’t feel like such a struggle.  More relaxed, less workload … presto … more time to have fun.  I don’t yet have a cadre of retired friends; during the days most of my friends are still going to work.  Not all of them, and hopefully I’ll make more day-time friends as I explore more day-time opportunities.  Lots of alone time, which I love.  But, when it comes evening, will there be tension because I’m not tired from a day at work and he is.  How will I respond when I say “Hey, let’s go catch a 7 o’clock movie tonight” and he says “No can do; got work to do” or “I’m too tired?”  Will I start to see some “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.” in all of this?

  • If you’re retired, and your partner isn’t, how have you dealt with this difference in day-to-day stress.
  • Any good ideas you can share?

6 responses to “Time shared in leisure .. or .. What will I expect of him?

  1. I’ve had this experience from both sides — when my husband was working and I was on a sabbatical and when he was retired and I wasn’t. Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him too much if he’s found a tootsie. It helped that he was home for the plumber but at the end of the day I was too whacked to be much fun. The answer for him was chess: a tournament in Moscow, another in Sudbury, lots of correspondence chess. When I was home and he was at work, I tried to save some quiet reading for the evening; or he was happy to meet me downtown for a movie. Even when you use your time for “brightening the home” projects, it can be disruptive for the working partner. Stepping around the scaffolding for the brick repairs, and your bags of recycling in the front hall can be one more thing.
    You’ll have more regular daytime activities once you settle into being retired; or make some agreements about your seeing friends sometimes in the evenings. Mostly it’s better; at least, only one of you will be grumpy.

  2. I don’t have a partner to consider, but I do wonder about friendships after I retire. My work currently provides most of my social life. I also know that immediately after I retire, I (along with Greta Garbo!) just vant to be alone! I am so looking forward to having my home to myself and time to do what I want (or, more precisely, time to not do what I don’t want).

  3. Sylvia Bereskin

    Welcome to the conversation Grace; great to have you here. I, too, can’t wait to – as you put it so well – not do what I don’t want. Have you been able to isolate what some of those things are yet? I’m working on it.

  4. Wellm this relates to your 8/1 post, “What Will He Expect of Me”. It seems that it’s in your best interest to pick up a few more chores to give him some extra time, it’s just a question of how much of that do you do.

  5. Sylvia Bereskin

    Ah yes, there is that connection for sure Rita. I wonder if anyone who’s done this has advice about how to determine which chores and how to negotiate that they’re actually being taken on to get that extra together time … which means you both have to decide that’s what you want more of right?

  6. I only think this is a problem if your days are boring and you look to your husband for stimulation, excitement and connection to the outside world – the classic case of the “little wife” staying at home all day. This will never be you and it certainly hasn’t been my life either. I have a hectic schedule every day, just working, seeing friends, and being involved with my grandchildren that I am as happy as Ed is to be home in the evening.

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