It’s Retirement Time – But I’ll Keep Working the Lessons

Almost Ruined

Tomorrow, my husband Jeff will finish his last regular work day. And come home to stay.

It’s retirement time.

Officially, he’ll still have a few days of work here and there during the next two months. He won’t be completely finished until July, but this is his last full week. He’s thrilled. 

But I almost ruined it.

As is my typical way, I’ve tried preparing for retirement ahead of time. I thought of the pros and cons; I tried preparing for the best and the worst.

And I’ve about driven Jeff crazy.

Who’s Scared Now?

A few weeks ago we were preparing supper in the kitchen. We began one of our talks about retirement. We each held our cool with each other’s approach for as long as we could.

Then we exploded.

He said things. I said things.

But one new thing surfaced. And it changed everything.

I heard that it wasn’t just me who was a little nervous about the changes ahead.

Jeff was a tad scared, too. But not for his own sake, rather for mine. My talk of preparing for both the good and the bad of retirement made him question if I *wanted* him to retire at all. He was afraid that I wouldn’t be happy having him home.

Still Learning

While we have had versions of that conversation in the past, that day I finally heard it differently.

Because I finally understood this: It’s not my job to regulate Jeff’s expectations.

Previously, my fear was that Jeff would have his expectations set too high for retirement, and that he would be disappointed when it didn’t live up to all the hype.

And I saw my role, with the best of intentions, was to remind him not to get his hopes up too high for retirement fun.

But he didn’t need that.

While my personality is to plan for all the possibilities, that’s not Jeff’s personality.

I enjoy the present more when I use it to prepare for the future (basically). That works for me.

But what works for Jeff is to enjoy the present while it’s here, and deal with the future when it gets here (basically).

So if I wanted Jeff to get the optimum pleasure out of his pre-retirement weeks, I needed to stop trying to lower his expectations about retirement. He’s a grown man; he knows it won’t be perfect. I didn’t have to keep pointing it out to him, just to make myself feel prepared. 

Once I realized this, our conversations about retirement radically improved.

And now here we are. We’ve almost made it. 

As we work out the kinks of having a lot more time together, I’ll keep returning to Basic Relationship 101 work: don’t try to change the other person. Give each other grace to be who God made them to be.

So you keep dreaming, Jeff. I’ll keep planning.

And it’ll all work out in the end.

Share your thoughts (and any advice about retirement!) in the comments

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16 thoughts on “It’s Retirement Time – But I’ll Keep Working the Lessons

  1. Susan Shipe

    Well, I know a thing or two about this. I retired in December. Tell Jeff it’s a one day at a time thing. There will be days he feels absolutely lazy and useless and then days he will think “Ah this has been a good day.”
    I have learned to go with the flow but a bit slower – to allow for languoring! (Is that a word?) once in a while.
    Retirement has taken a lot of practice for me and I’m still learning.

  2. Barbara Harper

    Retirement is such a big adjustment, and I have not seen much written about it. I tend to look at the possible negatives (and feel the need to prepare for them) instead of enjoying the probable pleasures. So I understand the different approaches. I do have concerns–about the lack of solitude on my part (although the pandemic has given us a preview) and the lack of male friendship on his part (all his closest relationships, outside family, are at work). But he’s very much looking forward to doing something else with his life. We don’t know exactly when my husband is retiring yet–his company doesn’t require it at a certain age. But it’s on the horizon.

    It’s true that no matter how long we’ve been married, we still have to remind ourselves about Basic Relationships 101. 🙂 I hope Jeff has a happy last full day and an enjoyable retirement!

  3. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    “And come home to stay.” I laughed out loud at that! (And also shuddered because I’ve had some of the same concerns, although we’re still several years away.) In all seriousness, though, congratulations to Jeff and to you! Getting to the retirement stage is definitely an accomplishment for the couple, and I pray you both make the adjustments together.

    I remember a couple of years after my Dad retired, he asked Mom what she would still like to do. They each made a list of 10 things and started checking them off! One year they even took a “sabbatical” from church and community responsibilities and checked off a bunch, including a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    Congratulations for reaching this monumental milestone, Lisa! As my husband and I retired, we fell into a comfortable rhythm of together time and apart time, especially since he prefers background noise (music, TV, etc.) and I prefer quiet. We’re blessed to have “his” space and “her” space in our home; it works well for us!

  5. Barb Hegreberg

    I have a similar fear of retirement. What will we do to occupy our time? How soon will we be on each other’s nerves?

    Then I think, “this like any other phase of our lives needs to be covered in prayer”.

    I’ll be praying for your changes too! ?

  6. Lois Flowers

    Oh Lisa … thank you for this glimpse of what is a ways down the road for me and Randy but will be here before we know it, I’m sure. I can definitely benefit from your realization: “It’s not my job to regulate Jeff’s expectations.” Just lately I have found myself trying to “help” with some issues Randy is facing at work, and I’m realizing yet again that he’s a grown man who will figure it all out in his own way. Basic Relationship 101 is a repeating course, for sure. Happy Retirement to you both!

  7. Joanne Viola

    Congratulations in reaching this milestone! We’re not quite there yet but … will be sooner rather than later 🙂 Your thoughts made me realize how much we need the Lord to navigate every stage of life. And retirement will be no different. So very grateful He leads us step by step. And I’m grateful for people like you, who share the lessons they are learning along the way. Have a Happy Mother’s Day, Lisa!

  8. Karen Friday

    Lisa, like so many couples about retirement or other issues, the way we approach things is often different as night and day. Even in the preparation phase. I pray the coming days prove to be a blessing to you both and your families.

  9. JeanWise

    First of all congrats to Jeff. I retired first, adjusted, then Bill retired two years later, more adjustment. Each time took time but worked. It helps me to have an office I can go to and he usually respects that. Funny thing is we both are now working part-time. What is great though about retirement – we choose to work and are blessed to know we can quit if we feel it no longer fits – a freedom we didn’t have in younger years. May may surprises and joys await you both!

  10. Maureen

    Congratulations to Jeff’s retirement! That’s a milestone and an achievement. I can relate to your story because my hubby is similar to you. Always ahead and always about future planning. I am similar to your hubby. Live and love the present. Don’t worry about the past nor the future!! I am sure everything will work out fine. They always do. So kudos!

    Maureen |

  11. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Lisa, somehow, I’d missed this post! Congratulations to both you and Jeff on this milestone!! I think when Michael “retired” four years ago this Dec., I superimposed my own fears/discomfort of “coming home full-time” when I left my career to raise Sheridan onto him. I had a huge, extremely responsible nonprofit job that I both loved and hated (Dickens’s “the best of times; the worst of times” scenario). It was a tough transition, but God comforted me and showed me there is a whole other world outside the business world, and as He had before (when I didn’t want to leave my home in the first place to go to work!), He would give me purpose back at home. Michael had a huge nonprofit, executive job, as well, and he was so good at what he did and so needed by that agency. I really thought he would miss it and be lost without it. I *presumed* he’d be bored out of his mind! That was not the case at all. He didn’t miss a beat in doing projects, helping others (on a less perhaps visible scale), and serving on a nonprofit board and at church. AND I’ve loved having him home. It’s delightful.

    From my perspective, too, I think I was selfish in fearing that my own little world and preferences (alone at home) would be upturned. I had been the Queen of my Castle when Sheridan entered school. But because Mike has always had such a laid-back, kind personality, he has never objected, as an example, to my long “quiet times,” etc. My only regret is that exactly 2 yrs ago today (6.22.20), I was slammed w/ vertigo, and it has changed absolutely EVERYTHING about my daily existence and dependence upon him. I do feel burdensome. We’d planned travelling abroad again and all those fun things couples can finally do, and that may not materialize if God doesn’t heal me. Still, I encourage him and Sheridan to go… then COVID. so we shall see.

    WOW. SORRY! As usual, I digress big time, but this is a great post of yours and judging by the comments, a much-needed one. I know that you and Jeff are savoring every day together! Congrats again!


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