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?