Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

I have to start by saying Happy Birthday to my husband Bob—the man who makes me laugh, who always has my back, and who loves me no matter what.

It’s a big week in our lives. Tomorrow is Bob’s last day of work with his corporate job. This is the first time since he was fourteen that he hasn’t had a job. But it’s not only a big change for him, but for me. I’m used to being home alone—a lot. And I like that time. I have my little routines. All of that is going out the window.

I’m the one who encouraged Bob to retire. He’s worked his butt off for the entire thirty-two (almost) years of our marriage. Because of his hard work and support I was able to stay home with our daughter which was a joy (most days)! It allowed me time to write and rewrite and go to writer’s conferences and take writing classes. No one was happier when I got my first publishing contract than Bob.

But I confess, when Bob followed me from one room to the other one day recently, I got a little worried.

The first week of his retirement will be easy. Our friend from Australia, Christine, and her two sons are coming, and we have lots of activities planned. Two weeks after that we are going to Ohio to watch one of Christine’s sons play Ultimate Frisbee in an international tournament. We have various other travel plans arranged, but at some point we will have to settle in to a new normal. I guess that’s the part that worries me. And him.

Don’t tell him but his birthday and retirement gifts from me are mostly books. That will help keep him occupied, right? I also ordered him this mug:

Most of his coworkers have asked him, “But what are you going to do?” His response (to me at least) has been “why do I have to do anything?” A friend of his who retired a couple of years ago told him that for the first week (possibly the second week for Bob because of said company) he might wonder what the heck he’s done. However, other friends have assured him he’ll be delighted.

All that said, I’m looking forward to this new phase of our life. One where we can pack up on a whim and go somewhere or we can read or take walks or go out to lunch on our schedule instead of corporate America’s.

Readers: How do you handle big changes in your lives? Any advice for me?

71 Thoughts

  1. Happy Birthday to Bob and happy retirement. Enjoy the freedom you have to pick up and go. Does Bob have a hobby? If so, encourage him to do more.

    1. Thanks, Dru Ann! He doesn’t really have a hobby. He used to volunteer at the Air and Space museum so maybe he’ll do something like that again.

      1. Congratulations! My husband retired young, and there were two sentences I repeated more than once as we navigated toward a very happy retirement:

        1. I know you want to help more and that’s great, but I need you to take on some of the yucky jobs and share the good ones.

        2. If I didn’t find you intensely distracting, I never would have married you. Can you try not to interrupt my writing time unless it is an emergency? Interruptions at any other time is fine.

        You’ll have fun together, with lots of laughter, I’m sure!

  2. Sherry, my husband’s retirement is looming large too. Thankfully he has plenty of hobbies (fly fishing, building stuff out in his workshop…) which I hope will occupy his time. If he can’t find stuff to do on his own, I have a list of items I want him to build. (Mostly bookshelves.)

  3. Bravo, congratulations, and, as we say in the Navy, fair winds and following seas to Bob!! With a very happy birthday thrown in for good measure. I think the key is to stop, assess, and not immediately commit to a slew of new activities and commitments. Then be prepared to tell all of us on the precipice of retirement how you’re doing it.

    1. I agree with you, Vida! This morning he said retiring from the Air Force was much harder than this. It was a lifestyle and a passion. This, while he enjoyed it most of the time, was a job.

  4. I worried a great deal about Bill’s retirement. He was one of those men whose work, hobby, and social life were all one thing. But he quit cold turkey and hasn’t looked back. And like you say the freedom has been fantastic.

  5. Perhaps “Bob” will get called back for some part time “contract” assignments????

  6. My husband retired a little over 5 years ago after working 39 years and it was a bigger adjustment for me than for him. I liked my time to myself, I could read in peace and do things at my own pace. He is always bored and inventing things to do. He likes to build things. He built my 2 bookcases. Now he is into gardening.

  7. Happy birthday to Bob! Hugh is kind of half retired. I just shut the door to my office when he’s home a lot. I’m sure you’ll figure it out. And a big hi from me to Christine!

  8. From my male perspective, share with Bob the water is fine! As far as advice for you, I’ll share what my wife would likely say, “Run, Forrest! Run!” In all seriousness, aging and retirement are not for cowards. But with understanding, acceptance, and (for some) substantial quantities of their favorite beverage, it can be the best of the best times in your life. May you and Bob enjoy the days ahead!

  9. Please pass on my happy birthday wishes and congratulations on retiring to your husband.

    It reminds me of the magnet my Mom had on the refrigerator – Retirement – twice as much husband and half as much money. My husband went to work paying taxes at 13. Through the years, he had always said he was going to retire at 55 so he could enjoy his retirement years. I think part of that was because his Dad died so young and never got to retire. He ended up retiring a few months early in order to help me with being full time caregiver to my Mom who had Alzheimer. I’m fortunate enough to have a man that’s not content to sit idly for long. He makes his own list of things to do and keeps himself busy with gardening, yard work, helping with household chores on my bad days, loves to cook/bake/grill and has a hobby of photography that we share. Although home together, we aren’t always with one another so it makes the times we spend together still just as special as they were before retirement. My suggestion is to help him find what he enjoys doing and then encourage it whether it’s physical stuff like gardening, enjoying reading or taking up a hobby that’s always interested him but he never had the time to indulge in.

    You will find a happy medium of together time and separate interest. It may take a bit of time, but you will get there.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. My husband was always busy! For the first twenty years of our marriage he was in the Army, and did a fair amount of traveling. After he retired, he got a job with a company here in Pittsburgh, and was with them for two years. After that, he and a co-worker started their own company and did that for over 20 years. A couple of years ago he retired and I was worried about what he would do as he has no real hobbies except working in the garden. There have been times when having him around the house all the time has been challenging for me as I was used to having the house to myself most of the time when I wasn’t working. There have been little things to overcome (he likes having the tv or music on all day and I prefer silence) but for the most part it has gone pretty well. He got a one day a week job about two years ago, and it makes a day for me to be alone and gives him some contact with other people. We are both introverts, so we are fine with just the two of us. It will work out but takes some give and take.

  11. Happy birthday and retirement to Bob! Wishing you both lots of good times together in the years to come.

  12. Happy Birthday Bob. Enjoy your retirement. My husband retired quite a few years before I did so he was pretty set in his ways. It took a while to adjust to each other 24/7 but once we did we wondered how we ever found time to work!! He has hobbies–fishing, hunting, walking, putzing around the house while I have my paper crafting, reading, and gardening. Have fun together!!

  13. Happy birthday and congratulations to Bob! I love that mug. My hubby is planning to retire in the fall of 2023, but since is is constitutionally incapable of sitting in one spot for more than 20 minutes, I’m sure he’ll have a lot ot keep him busy. And I’ll still be working, so there’s that.

    I’m sure Bob will love retirement.

  14. First of all, Happy Birthday to Bob!
    Your life is now changed. It is great having them home, being able to go places during the week, having him there to help deal with bugs/animals, to have time to laugh more and discover new things together, see movies that you both enjoy. Get out and go places you always wanted to see as soon as possible,
    but keep him busy. Encourage him to indulge in his own interests. Have him be with other men or organizations before he falls into a rut.
    Those of us who do not have outlets find ourselves confiding in each other that our husbands get bored, and ask us to watch shows and movies we don’t like, (or it is just too much, too often). We hear about their their hobbies, politics, pet peeves too much, they start questioning how we do everything we have been doing for many years,and we haven’t much time to ourselves.
    I had to put mine online because of lack of outlets and the difficult social situation here.
    (Please do not move out of that area.)
    Have fun, and good luck!

  15. Retirement was much easier than I expected because I had my writing (mysteries, blogging, scholarly stuff), plus I am a Member at Large for Sisters in Crime New England. My husband and I both love railtrailing, hiking, gardening, watching old movies, all kinds of stuff we can do together. Still, he was a bit restless at first, especially in winter; however, he’s connecting with other professors he worked with who retired and even watching on-line talks on physics subjects that he didn’t have time to keep up with when he was teaching. I think what we love best is something you mentioned: being able to pick up and go where- and whenever we want. We both LOVE not being on someone else’s schedule. And, yes, we are both reading like crazy.

  16. Happy birthday Bob, and welcome to retirement!
    I thought I was a workaholic and wondered how I would adjust to retired life when I left Environment Canada in 2016. The first year of retirement was one of discovery and figuring out my new “routine”. I tried some things that were outside my comfort zone, too. Hope that you and Bob enjoy the journey!

  17. Happy Birthday, BOB!!
    When my husband finally and totally retired, I encouraged him to do things he loves to do. He goes out several times a week to either play tennis or bridge. (During the pandemic, he played tennis wearing a mask and he played bridge on line.) It’s working out great. I hope Bob finds things that he loves to do and that he can pursue with friends.

  18. My husband has been retired for over ten years. Yes, it was a seismic shift in our relationship. We each have our own private space in the house — me for writing and Joe for listening to music. And we laugh. A lot. Good luck!

    1. We are usually laughing too. Separate spaces sounds good! RIght now we both have offices in our house, but we are thinking about downsizing.

      1. Sherry, see how you and Bob “do” in this retiring time, adjust, be kind to each other, snuggle in to new schedules and expectations. Then, consider another big change in your lives…more bluntly, don’t down size until you discover if your home is big enough for two people 24/7. Keep those separate offices! And enjoy this wonderful new beginning.

  19. Happy Birthday and Happy Retirement to Bob!
    Change is good! One has new challenges, new routines or non-routines to deal with. The change of routine can mean not going out and about so much, less walking, so when retiring deciding on maybe a walk each day or exercise can keep one healthy. Being free to do or not do what you want everyday, no pressure, can mean changing your new (semi-) routine often. If missing the daily background office noise when you’re home means having the TV or radio on all day, it won’t last long, and might be replaced by music, then old movies, then just reading! Time to relax, to gather one’s thoughts on one’s interests, and/or hobbies, exploring new hobbies or traveling… A wonderful change!
    (I’m retired!)

  20. I am just entering year two of being retired. Year One was a time of adjustment: so many preconceptions exist about who a retiree is and what retirement means. I had to figure it out for myself and, for me, it means continuing to work as a teacher but on my terms — as a community educator teaching writing courses that I develop myself. I feel like I’m finding my groove.
    I wish you both well with this major transition!

  21. I think retirement is different depending on your personal style. I retired in November, and I’m still struggling a bit. I am a person who likes structure and routine, so without a framework I’m kind of lost. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, as will he.

  22. Happy Birthday and Congratulations to Bob! Mr. Right says he’ll never fully retire, but he is looking at cutting back after this summer. From my observation, it looks like most new retirees need a time of adjustment — as Grace said — but find their way, and that it helps if spouses find something they like to do together, whether a new hobby or an old one they expand. Just make sure you protect your writing time!

  23. Happy birthday and retirement, Bob!! We have been retired for 15 years after working together for 14 years. So, we have gotten used to being together, a lot. We have always had our own interests and have pursued them. Fortunately, neither of us is jealous and totally trust the other to do whatever. I like foreign travel, he doesn’t. I traveled alone for many years. He loves trains, and I have gone along and learned enough that I am a good companion. So, we each do our own thing, but we also do a lot together. We are each other’s best friend. We can both be very spontaneous, so it is wonderful to be able to suddenly decide to go somewhere and not have to answer to anyone. Enjoy your time together.

  24. When I decided to retire, I was often asked what I was going to do NOW. It seemed that some people believe that you have to do something besides taking care of yourself, your family, and others that you love. They are wrong!

  25. I’m jealous! I’m so ready to retire, especially after this week. (It may have been a short week, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.)

    The thing I hear from my parents the most, and I’ve experienced when I’ve been unemployed, is wondering how you had time to work with everything else you do. Seriously, when I’ve been unemployed, I look at myself at the end of the day and said, “That’s what I would have done if I had been working. Where did the extra hours go?”

    I’m sure there will be a little adjustment, but I have no doubt you’ll find the good very easily.

    And a shout out to ultimate Frisbee!

    1. I thought you’d like the ultimate Frisbee angle! I remember when our daughter started school and I thought I’d have so much free time. But the hours passed swiftly!

  26. Happy retirement to Bob! That is a big change for both of you to be sure. This is a great time for Bob to start exploring those things and ideas that maybe were put off because the time wasn’t right. Very exciting to start a new chapter in life!

  27. Happy Birthday Bob and Congratulations. The advice everyone has given is wonderful. Of course, you can convince him to help you find great locations for scenes in your books or have him act out things that you need acted out. Maybe he can research for you! Create a character around him. But then, he may find ways to stay out of your way!

    1. Thanks, Doris. The car CJ Hooker had in the garage sale mysteries was based on a car Bob once had. And little bits and pieces of his life are borrowed for the books too. He always gets a kick out of them or says, “Really?”

  28. Now that we are both retired from our full time careers, we found you do eventually settle into a pattern. I’m an early riser, so I write early. We share wonderful coffee/tea time and meal breaks, but, we both go about our new activities in blocks of time in between. I write and do most of the inside cleaning and cooking. He gardens and takes on the outside house and car maintenance. We share grandchildren time and trips to the ball fields and beaches. It will work out. Just give it some adjustment time. Some days I wonder where we ever had the time to work as many hours and for as many years as we did, while raising our family and pursuing higher education. This is a different season.
    If all else fails, we retreat to separate “work” rooms – my office and his shed. 😂. Enjoy this time – it is the reward for lifelong commitment and not having an alarm clock (on most days) is the BEST.

  29. Hugs, Sherry! And Happy birthday and retirement to Bob.

    Yep, big changes ahead, but also big opportunities, there’s the travel, the second honeymoon, and getting to the bottom of all those things Bob was going to do, but never had the time. Oh, I’ll admit it has its moments. Sometimes I wish I could send Gary off to college (so what if he has a doctorate), but overall, once the adjustment is done, you’ll find great happiness and fulfillment, and I guarantee that six months down the road, Bob will wonder how he ever found the time to work a day job.

  30. Happy Birthday and congratulations to Bob.
    That said, my husband does woodworking and keeps himself busy downstairs fiddling around with that. Also we have a small garden. Bob needs a hobby. Something he enjoys doing for that, enjoyment.
    He can take the dog for walks. Take up cooking. Trying new recipes. My husband likes to cook and grill. A lot of the best chefs are men, after all.
    Just suggestions. Good luck!

      1. I know the feeling of having a retired husband home most days for over 20 years. You’ll have to figure out which rooms are “yours” and which are “his” certain hours of the day. We keep our computers in the same room. He works on his computer in the mornings and I work on mine in the afternoons. We take a walk together at a certain time most days. He knows which days of the week I regularly go out so he’ll have the house to himself and I know the same about his schedule when I’ll have the house to myself. It takes a lot of trial and error but you’ll figure it out. You’ll love to be able to travel when the opportunity arises!

  31. Congratulations on Bob’s retirement. My hubby was home twice for 6+ months due to noncompete clauses in his contract. Our biggest hurdle was the fact that his being home didn’t alter the rest of the house schedule. So no last minute cancellations of our housecleaners because he wanted to sleep in, I still had my work to do, etc. LOL
    A hobby is a must–something indoors and out. You’ll appreciate the times when he is out of the house more now also.

  32. I pray and trust in the Lord for leading. Congratulations on your husband’s retirement. God bless you.

  33. I was worried when my husband retired, too, but he keeps himself occupied, and it’s wonderful having him around. What I didn’t worry about–but find that it’s true for most of our friends, too–is that life got BUSIER after he retired. We keep asking ourselves, “How did we get anything done when he held a 40 hour a week job?”

  34. Congratulations to Bob, and good luck to you both on settling on a new routine. Doc and I have mornings together for breakfast, errands, and then when I write in the afternoons he does outside things or takes the dogs for a walk. I use headphones and listen to music if he comes in and listens to podcasts on his own computer or a race on TV. It works for us. We come together again for dinner. I think each couple has to learn to navigate these new waters and I have no doubt the two of you will ace this!

  35. A Belated Happy Birthday and Congratulations to Bob! By now, you’ve settled into the ‘new normal,’ and I do hope that it’s going smoothly! 🙂

    A beloved family member moved in back in January and except for occasional trips to visit others, has not yet left. In preparation for his arrival, I emptied a walk-in closet, a large bedroom, and a bathroom of all my stuff. No easy task. Then I prepared myself mentally for the schedule changes I would face – no writing in the wee hours, sports on the TVs instead of mysteries and the Hallmark Channel. Gotta tell ya, the first couple of weeks were odd as we sorted out the cooking and cleaning responsibilities. But, we have always gotten along, and lo and behold, he had to work, too! We quickly adjusted and found a routine that works quite nicely. Mutual respect and honesty go a long way to help keep the relationship tension-free when these big changes occur. In retrospect, I should never have told him how to work the thermostat. lol

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