Retiring will change the rules of matrimonial engagement

They have always been at your side at your corporate events. When your children had milestone events like birthdays, graduations, marriages, etc. And finally, they were at your retirement party with 300 of your closest corporate colleagues.

You’ve always taken their presence for granted after all they are your spouse. You know richer or poorer, in sickness and or in health. But now you are sitting across from them at your kitchen table and they all of a sudden tell you that your couples rules of engagement are changing.

First, off they tell you that retirement does not guarantee you their presence with you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You need to ask in advance and if they are free they will try and accommodate. Accommodate??

Next, they have a life and have had it for years apart from yours. You know when you went off to work so did they but you never considered that. When you traveled for work for 8 days out of the month they filled that time apart from you with things they now feel are an important part of their life. More important than me? What?

Finally, they have things to do daily that provide them with a meaningful purpose that must be done during the day that you either never knew about or just did not pay attention to what these things that they are doing were.

You are shocked, dismayed and at a loss for words. Your partner has grown apart from you because as you were a corporate warrior, they also set up a life separate but equal from yours. You still can’t believe it.

You think it was watching too much Oprah or the View or was it that recently divorced friend of theirs. How can they be so stubborn about having their own life when I now need them during the biggest transition of my life!!!   

This goes on for weeks. Now there is mostly silence around the house because I am there all alone because they have appointments and people that also depend on them need them too. Over dinner, the conversation is very superficial. They read a book in another room while I watch ESPN just like I used to on the road. Finally, one night about 9 PM while my favorite team was locked in an overtime thriller my partner comes to me and said, “I’m tired of this standoff I would like you to move out because the tension is too much for me”. I look up from the TV and say ok let’s talk after the game. They walk away shaking their head and two days later I still can’t believe that they went to stay with their sister the next town over.

It’s time for counseling they say. But all I know is I thought my retirement was going to be filled with love, happiness and enjoying the things that I wanted to do. It never occurred to me that they may also have a life that is filled with dreams of their own. As I get in my car to drive to our first counseling session I am filled with anger, fright, and sadness. How did this happen? How did I miss this other life? And now what can I do to return everything to normal? These are all questions I need answering. I never anticipated that this kind of work would have to go into making my retirement a peaceful and happy time.