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Retired Together…3 Issues and 7 Tips

Some of you may know I retired in 2017 after 22+ years at LifeWay, serving as the women’s ministry specialist.  It was such a surprise and an honor to get to do this ministry. I loved my work and am so grateful for all God taught me. But, my husband and I knew that this was the year to retire.

I turned 65 the September prior and God made it clear this was the time. God affirmed this in so many ways the last year I was there and my retirement was such a sweet time of celebration. I wasn’t retiring from ministry, just from serving in the capacity I had been at LifeWay. I looked forward to having more time to spend with family, serve in my own church, and study and travel for personal speaking engagements.

At this time, my husband had been retired for about 7 years and had been the MODEL retired man! Because I continued to work, and traveled often as a result, Pat took over almost ALL the home responsibilities. The few concerns I had about this arrangement quickly dissolved as he continued to get up early with me (4:30am was where my alarm was set and I hated that hour of the morning!). He also made my life so much easier by covering most of the tasks I had covered all these years while we both worked.

Pat has always helped out at home, but he took over jobs I never expected: starting dinner before I got home, (although he was willing to help he almost NEVER cooked before), ran all the weekly errands, cleaned house, totally trained our new puppy #MoDawg, and even washed clothes. I did have to eventually ask him NOT to wash my clothes since his method was: one temperature, one cycle, one load, all clothes. After several items of mine did not survive, I ask him to let me take my loads of wash back! But he does iron better than I ever did!

So, as my time of retiring from full time work at LifeWay approached, we were SO looking forward to having lots of time to spend together…finally, after one or both of us working part/full time and raising twins. We had already enjoyed empty nest and thought this would just be the next level of togetherness we would experience.

You would think after 46 years of marriage the year I retired (47 years now!), we would know how to live together in complete harmony.  Well, if not complete harmony, at least most of the time anyway! We don’t just love one another, we like each other. Although we did enjoy the extra time together, it wasn’t as harmonious and easy as we expected.

Here are 3 issues I discovered that helped me to understand how to navigate this new life journey with the man I love:

  1. We both had expectations. He had established a routine in his 7 years of retirement and thought I’d fall right into his agenda. Like jumping out of bed at 5am to have time with the Lord, then go work out!  After 22 years of getting up before dawn, the thing I looked so forward to was not making the commute to downtown Nashville and sleeping in till 6:30 or 7 am and then just laying there for a while. THEN I’d have leisurely time with the Lord by the fire or on the deck. Working out for me would come later in the day! We both had to learn to adjust to the other person’s expectations and agenda.
  2. We both thought we’d do everything together. That’s not really healthy! We still needed some space to do things on our own or with other friends. Now I don’t feel guilty about it!  I see how important it is for both of us.
  3. We both irritated each other over dumb things. One day as I was praying about how we were getting on each other’s nerves over such insignificant things, I finally realized something that has helped us both understand this season. Only one other time in all our lives have we ever lived 24/7 with ANY other human! From birth to age 5, Pat and I each lived 24/7 with our full time homemaker moms. From the time we started school, we never experienced a 24/7 relationship. This was huge eye-opener for us both. No wonder we had some things to learn! Just knowing this has made the transition easier and even much more humorous!

Here are 7 tips we’ve learned that might help you as you face this married retirement thing:

  1. Share a calendar so we know when we have separate or joint activities and appointments
  2. Have a meal calendar so we know the dinner plan (this is very flexible!)
  3. Share a grocery list we can both add items to
  4. Don’t assume you know what the other is thinking or planning, ask!
  5. Laugh together
  6. Find something you both enjoy. We love the beach, kayaking and going to movies.
  7. Pray to be selfless and thoughtful with each other

For further reading for ALL types of “he’s home” situations (job loss, health issues, working from home, one or both spouses retired), I highly encourage you to read Janet Thompson’s book, Dear God, He’s Home . I decided maybe I needed to read this after Pat and I struggled through our first retired year together.  The best thing I discovered, we are NORMAL!  You will be blessed by getting a copy!

Even when you love each other desperately, it’s so true what Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain...” Spend time alone with Him and He will bless this wonderful season in life!

Banner Photo by Sarah Williams


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