Remember when even an hour apart from your honey seemed like a week? You wanted to spend as much time together as possible, soaking up each other’s idiosyncrasies and learning all there was to know about one another. Several years passed and your husband is retiring, which gives you more time together than ever before. Theoretically, retirement should be great! So why is the adjustment so difficult? Nora Hall, of SurviveYourHusbandsRetirement.com, started her site to offer shmirshkies everywhere a helpful resource. You can get through it!
Q: “Survive Your Husbands Retirement” focuses on a very specific time in a shmirshky’s life. My trauma with the onset of perimenopause and menopause (PM&M) was like hitting a wall at 100 miles an hour. I was totally unprepared and uninformed as to what I was going through and what to expect. Was your experience with your husband’s retirement as unexpected as mine was with PM&M symptoms? What inspired your site?
A: My husband’s retirement––it was a major adjustment for both of us. I spoke with many women eager to share their retirement adjustment experiences. The women’s stories made me realize, as you did with menopause, that suffering in silence is bogus, and the blog was born.
Q: That’s right! Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT. That’s my motto and mission, and it seems yours is to empower women to get the help they deserve. Who did you reach out to for support when experiencing these retirement challenges?
A: First I spoke with every friend and acquaintance who had a retired husband. When I realized how cathartic the discussions were––both for me and my friends––I began seeking interviews from people I didn’t know, and eventually started offering workshops. We all benefit from the sharing.
Q: It’s interesting that in the case of my research for Shmirshky, once I began talking with other women about the issues they had confronted and demonstrated a real interest in and sharing, the floodgates of information poured out. The sisterhood is a tremendous resource and vehicle for support. Busting open the conversation with your shmirshky sisterhood, or in this case, your survival troop sisterhood, always helps! What are some of the major challenges that couples encounter when they or their husbands are in retirement?
A: 24/7 and a sense of displacement. When a husband retires a couple tends to have a great deal more time to spend together, and both parties don’t always agree on how that time should be spent. This is sometimes more difficult to resolve that you might think. Newly retired husbands often feel displaced. They may temporarily lose their sense of purpose and that sometimes leads to anger or depression––or worse––aspiring to manage the household. If a wife has been doing this successfully on her own for many years, friction can arise.
Q: And I’m sure household friction is only exacerbated by PM&M symptoms. But are there any hidden advantages that you didn’t realize you’d encounter at this phase?
A: The joy of discovery. Retirement afforded my husband and me time to talk about our needs in this new stage. By doing this we discovered wonderful things about one another and rediscovered our commitment to each other. When I started developing workshops and talking with other women with retired husbands, I discovered a new way to help others bring joy into their lives.
Q: And you do! What’s next for you? Rumor has it you’re working on a book…
A: The book is just about ready for publication. Anyone interested in reading it could sign up for my blog at http://surviveyourhusbandsretirement.com. I will certainly announce it there when the book is available.
Retirement isn’t always a vacation! As with any major life changes—getting married, having children, or going through PM&M—adjustments must be made for a couple to find a happy balance. Nora Hall’s site offers workshops and helpful information, as well as a list of recommended books to help you in your transition. We can’t wait to see what her book has in store!
Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT.