I recently retired, and I’m enjoying my time away from work. I was afraid I wouldn’t, but it feels like I finally get to live my life for me. My husband and I have been married for 24 years and I love him dearly, but I am so afraid when he retires (19 months and counting down), his dreams of his retirement are going to cut into the happy little life I’m enjoying of running here and there, visiting with my friends, and babysitting my grandchildren. He wants to “explore the country side” in a mobile home. It all seemed far away, but now he’s actually started looking at RVs and planning routes. I think this is the only thing that motivates him to go to work every day, but it’s killing me! I am dreading his retirement while he can’t stop talking about it. Is there any way I can tell him how I feel without totally crushing him? Or should I just live his dream for a little while?
His Dream, My Nightmare
Congratulations! After slaving away for bosses, husbands, and children for all of these years, you’ve finally made it to a much-deserved retirement; the spoils of winning the rat race. But now, just as you get into your groove, hubby wants to park an RV right in the middle of your dream. Well, being that I’m quite a ways from retirement, I had to talk to LOTS of folks and get LOTS of points of view. I mixed all the opinions together, poured a few beers over them, and this is what it boils down to:
WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON WITH YOU: When we get married, we transition; our time is not our own anymore, we have to think about the other person’s needs and not just our own. We trade most of our “me time” for “us time.” It’s not easy, but we do it. When our kids come along, we transition again, trading “me time” and “us time” for “family time”. Pretty soon, our time is divided between so many things that it starts to fly by so fast that soon our dream is just to get some of it back. We love our spouses, our kids, and (sometimes) even our jobs, but we miss ourselves. I think that, now that you have yourself and your me-time back, you may be worried that this next transition is going to take away your newfound freedom, and I think that’s a pretty natural response in this situation.
WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON WITH YOUR HUSBAND: The good news is, after all of these years, the dream that keeps him going is having you all to himself and share his world with you. The bad news is that he wants just you co-piloting across the desert with him in a rolling tin can with a closet/kitchen/toilet. Just like you, he’s new to all of this retirement stuff. He doesn’t know how getting his me-time back is going to feel, only how he thinks it’s gonna feel. Remember what you thought retirement would be like? Is it really like that? His probably won’t be either. Give him some time to get the hang of it.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Isn’t it funny, even after a quarter of a century together, how a simple thing like communication can trip us up? We get so used to mixing the bitter truth with enough discretion to make it palatable, that we forget that sometimes you just have to tell it like it is and let the details work themselves out. You don’t have to say, “Look here, Skippy; there ain’t no way in hell I’m going anywhere in that thing!”. Instead tell him that you know how hard he’s worked to be able to share his dream with you, but that you’ve worked just as hard and that you have your own dream that you’d like to share with him. After 24 years, don’t think for a minute that he hasn’t noticed that you don’t exactly light up at the word Winnebago. Tell him the truth, let him turn it over in his mind for a few days, and then solve the problem the way you two always have: compromise.
OH, AND ABOUT THAT RV: Campers, boats, gym member ships, leather pants… all of these are things that seem like a great idea at the time. Lots of people get them, but not a lot of people keep them. I’d suggest you ask your husband to rent one and take a few trips before actually buying one. When men dream of the open road, we usually don’t add in the part about paying outrageous gas prices, barely avoiding crazy drivers, backing into tiny parking spaces, and emptying travel toilet tanks. Of course, there’s the possibility that you’ll like it more than he does, but that’s a scenario for another day.
Good luck, and I hope it all works out!
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William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.