Author Gwen RollingsHave you ever had an expectation of some future event in your life? You know, maybe it was a party you couldn’t wait to attend or a trip you’d been planning for months. Well, retirement was my big, wild, wonderful expectation. Our four kids were all adults and out of the house. My husband’s job for almost forty years was coming to an end. Now we would have time to do all the things we never could do before…At least that’s what my husband had promised me. All the things to me meant spending quality, uninterrupted time together exploring new exotic locations, experimenting with hobbies like ballroom dancing, photography, sailing, and dragon boat racing. At least, that’s how I wanted to spend my days.

After he retired, if you looked up the definition of “joined at the hip” on Google, you would have found a picture of my husband and me as an example. I had no idea what was in store for us. Crazy as this sounds, I never thought about what my husband expected to do every day. Even though he didn’t  play golf or had any hobbies outside of his work, I never thought much about how he wanted to fill his hours after he retired. I quickly learned the answer:  he would be with me…everyday…all the time not walking hand-in-hand along a deserted stretch of beach in Fiji but at our home. I don’t care how much you love someone, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a saying which I’m sure was concocted by a retired wife.

After 40 years of marriage, most wives think they know everything about their husbands. Mine was acting in ways so unfamiliar to me that I thought someone had switched my real husband (probably to put him in a witness protection program) and left me with a look alike who didn’t act alike my husband at all. Always a type-A personality, this man lingered over a second or even third cup of coffee while reading over every page of the morning newspaper and could spend a whole day just getting his fishing gear organized. This man wanted to go every place with me ALL the time: grocery shopping, returning a book to the library, to the dentist. It was cute at first, for a short period of time. Soon the sound of “Honey, what are you doing?” made me want to go into the witness protection program!

My home used to be my domain. After retirement, my husband felt he was doing me a favor by instructing me on better methods of filling the dishwasher and vacuuming the house. Forget trying to clean out a closet and take any clothing he hadn’t worn in ten years to the thrift store. He would pull everything out of the bag and say, “You’re not giving my favorite (fill in the blank) away. It’s still good. I might need that.” Not to mention it usually had moth holes and was way too small for him to ever wear again.

After speaking with other retired wives, I realized I was not the Lone Ranger(ette). Why did we expect retirement to be so different for us? Probably because no other retired wife told us what to expect, and we believed too many of those retirement infomercials showing couples walking along a beach at sunset then sitting in two bathtubs next to each other (no that was another commercial for seniors.) I felt it was time for a wife to come clean, no pun intended, about what really happens when a husband retires. It was fun writing Help! My Husband Just Retired because it was just one more time in my life when what I was sure was going to happen, what I have planned was going to happen, what I dreamed was going to happen…didn’t. As we hear so often these days, “It’s all good!” Especially when we consider our lives in the context of Jeremiah 29:11.” I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord. Plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” That’s one expectation you can always count on.

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