Excerpt for Survive Your Husband's Retirement: Tips on Staying Happily Married in Retirement by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


“Truly Enlightening,” Dave Bernard

“With chapters focused on topics such as “The Always There Husband” and “The Never Listens Husband,” Hall addresses the realities that face many shifting to a full-time relationship. But do not despair - the author then offers suggestions to keep the relationship alive including focusing on the positive and rekindling the love that first brought you together. I particularly relate to her description of our “spousal right” to have time together as well as time apart. We all need time to do our own thing even when we are retired together, perhaps even more so.

Dave Bernard, US News and World Report


Nora Hall’s, Surviving Your Husband’s Retirement should be required reading for couples near or already in retirement. With real life situations and heartfelt experiences, she empowers couples to make the most of their life together in retirement. Don’t try to figure out your husband or retirement on your own… or waste the first few years learning things the hard way. Let Nora’s nurturing and engaging style be your guide to a successful transition together!

Robert Laura, contributor, retirement expert, author of Naked Retirement


"I felt lost because I could find no road maps for this major life transition—or even acknowledgment that it IS a major life transition. When I read Survive Your Husband’s Retirement, I learned that other women felt the same and felt immediate relief."

Anne Cahill, Wife with a Retired Husband.


"I liked that the book was written in a light, comedic tone. That helped me not take it all so seriously—and better understand my husband’s concerns."

Betsy Reece, Wife with a Semi-Retired Husband



Your Husband’s Retirement

Second Edition

Tips on Staying Happily Married in Retirement

Nora R. Hall

Publisher’s Information

Author’s website:

Author contact:

Cover Design: Martha Langer

Font Design: Martha Rhodes Cartoons by Randy Glasbergen

Publishing and Distribution: EBookBakery

ISBN 978-1-938517-59-4

This book is available as an ebook.

© 2018 by Nora R. Hall


No part of this work covered by the copyright herein may be reproduced, transmitted, stored, or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, scanning, digitizing, taping, Web distribution, information networks, or information storage and retrieval systems, except as permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the author.

In-Publication Data

Names: Hall, Nora R. (Nora Reilly), 1944-

| Glasbergen, Randy, illustrator.

Title: Survive Your Husband's Retirement : tips for staying happily married in retirement / Nora R. Hall; cartoons by Randy Glasbergen.

Description: Second edition. | [North Kingstown, Rhode Island]: EBook Bakery, [2016] | Includes bibliographical references.

Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-938517-59-4 (softcover) | ISBN 978-1-938517- 61-7 (Kindle) | ISBN 978-1-938517-62-4 (ePub)

Subjects: LCSH: Retirement. | Older couples. | Marriage.

Classification: LCC HQ1062 .H35 2016 (print) | LCC HQ1062 (ebook)

| DDC 306.3/8--dc23


When a husband retires, a wife often takes on another full-time job, but the content of this book provides many ideas to help you create a joyful retirement marriage. Workshops on bringing harmony back into your home are also available. Scan the QR code below to go to Survive Your Husbands’ Retirement and find a workshop that’s right for you:

Sometimes retirement is challenging, but it also offers opportunities to develop a richer relationship with your mate than you might imagine. It just takes, time, patience and compromise!

Enjoy your journey.

Remember happiness doesn’t depend
upon who you are or what you have;
it depends solely on what you think.”

—Dale Carnegie

For Art

NOW, the best retired husband

a wife could have.”

Table of Contents

Introduction: Tell Me This Isn't happening 1

PART I: Five Categories of retired Husbands 13

Chapter One: The Bossy Husband 15

Chapter Two: The Always There Husband 23

Chapter Three: The Dependent Husband 33

Chapter Four: The Angry Husband 41

Chapter Five: The Doesn't Ever Listen Husband 49

PART II: Navigating From Surviving to Thriving 55

Chapter Six: Focus On The Positive 57

Chapter Seven: Rekindle the Love 63

Chapter Eight: Make Your Retirement Marriage Work 67

PART III: Create New Visions 71

Chapter Nine: Imagine Your Journey 73

John's Story 73

Becky's Story 74

Ted's Story 75

PART IV: Chart Your Journey 77

Chapter Ten: Secure Your Retirement Dreams 81

Chapter Eleven: Arrive At Your Port of Call 85

The Seven Commandments of Retirement 90

Suggested Reading 91

Works Cited 92

BONUS: Retirement Tool Kit 97

Quick Relief for Times of Stress 99

Seven Tools in Your Survival Kit 101

Note From the Author 111

Thoughts For Staying Happily Married in Retirement 113

Tell Me This Isn't Happening

An Introduction to a Husband’s Retirement

One of my early retirement surprises came the day my ever-loving husband peeked over my shoulder and informed me how to load the washing machine. “My mother,” he said, “put the clothes in one by one so she could spread them evenly and balance the load.

Unfortunately, her much too early and untimely death prevented me from knowing my mother-in-law, but I’ve heard stories about her that make me think we would have been great friends. However, at that moment, as I stood there quietly stuffing muddy jeans and other hiking clothes into the washing machine I couldn’t decide if I wanted to whack her son with a wet sock, offer a blood curdling scream into his ear or starch his underwear. I’m certain she would have enjoyed the last option.

Our marriage wasn’t always like this. We actually got along most of the time and even had fun together. But what I learned during the first months of my husband’s constant presence in our home is that, regardless of the state of your relationship, adjusting to retirement can be hell. For me, his changed behavior reminded me of watching the movie Terminator when Arnold Schwarzenegger transformed his human machine system into a terrifying weapon. I had expected some change when Art, my husband of 42 years, retired. Still I hadn’t anticipated anything like what occurred, and I suspect he was equally surprised. I don’t think either of us ever thought about the possible stress of living together day in and day out. I had dreamed of glorious days and nights in this cozy new stage of our life now that he would be released from the stress of work. After so many years of his traveling, I found myself eager for him to be home more often. I imagined candlelit dinners every evening—with him cooking occasionally—long walks on the beach whenever we wanted, and spur of the moment adventures. Perhaps we’d find a community project to work on together with double energy producing double results.

I also delighted in the possibility of my husband being here to shovel when our front walk became a winter wonderland of cold, icy, wet snow. Truth be told, the thought of turning over the electric snow blower he so kindly gave me one year for Christmas made me giddy.

Sadly, none of this happened. We didn’t even get much snow for him to shovel that year. It was as if our (or at least my) retirement dreams had disappeared before they had time to begin. We squabbled like two year olds, temper tantrums and all. I sometimes felt that, when our boat for bliss blew widely off course, we boarded the one for distress and misery, suitably decorated with angry scowls and pins and needles in place of comfortable seats.

It became apparent, at least to the female on the team, that we needed to talk. The only problem was we weren’t chatting very much.

Don’t get me wrong; I liked this guy, and life had been good. But our track to bliss looked sadly broken. We had enjoyed shared interests while raising two great kids. Now their six children gave us ample opportunity to grandparent and spoil them, sending them home on sugar highs. So, I kept asking myself, why was I so miserable?

Not long before that day the love of my life offered his wisdom on the intricacies of loading the washing machine, I had read an AARP magazine article discussing the substantial increase in divorce when one partner retires. There were times I felt we could be the next statistic. Still, it seemed hard to fathom why couples who had somehow survived the nebulous joys of raising children, building careers, moving, settling in new neighborhoods, making ends meet, going on emergency hospital runs, paying bills, and all the other normal joys of married life, would divorce so late in the game. They had already been through the hard stuff—hadn’t they? But so had we, and we weren’t making life easy on one another.

“Where are we going?” I wondered. “These are supposed to be the golden years—aren’t they?”

Those of us who have children know that raising kids is no picnic. I think the people who remember it as the best time of their lives have conveniently forgotten those sleepless nights with a colicky baby—or the thrill of waiting for your teenager to come home safely. Sure, the memories of those years sing in your heart, but, honestly, were they painless? Did they always go as planned? And, moving...when was that fun? Okay, a new house or apartment or a different area to live can be exciting, but easy? No! Given all those experiences, shouldn’t retirement be a walk in the park? Why, then, did it seem so hard, and why did it hurt so?

Some days I thought about running away, far, far away, at least for a while. Maybe some space would help each of us adjust to this new life. But, divorce? That seemed pretty final—and I heard it can really screw up your retirement fund. Besides this was our problem, not just mine or his, and I knew we had to face it together. Still, I wondered how long it would be before I lost my mind. I started picturing myself as the lady in the corner pulling her hair out, strand by strand, as I speculated just how many more times he was going to ask me what time I would return from a meeting or who I was calling. It would have been so much easier had I known that all of this is a common occurrence for many newly retired couples. But I didn’t. I thought I was the only person to experience these retirement troubles.

This Wasn’t What I Imagined

Our retirement journey began on an ordinary day in May. When my husband left for work that morning, I anticipated him coming home weary, with more bad news, but hopeful that the company would survive a recent economic downturn.

His company supplied the textile industry with materials for their manufacturing process.

Overall, the business climate for the New England textile indus- try faced numerous obstacles as manufacturing companies moved their factories to the south or abroad. Those who make their living in this industry know—all too well—the domino effect of New England mills and factories disappearing on a regular basis. Beautiful brick mill buildings along many rivers, now renovated for art studios or stores, serve as a testimony to historic preservation and reuse, but they also represent lost jobs and significant life changes for thousands of workers throughout the region.

Despite the obvious decline in the textile industry, I, the cock- eyed optimist in the family, kept telling myself that everything would right itself. The economy would get strong quickly, the New England textile industry would revive, elephants would fly, and the world would be rosy again.

No wonder I was completely unprepared for what happened that night.

As I stood by the stove sautéing flounder for dinner, Art came to my side. He doesn’t usually do that because I’m like a mother tigress protecting her den. I’ve been accused of growling as I physically moved a trespasser out of my sacred triangle surrounding the sink, stove, and refrigerator.

Though I normally would have read Art the riot act for infringing on my culinary territory, something in his eyes kept me from mentioning the transgression. Instead, I just looked at him.

We’re closing the company,” he said. “We can’t get a loan to get us through this lousy economy, and we can’t make it through the slow season without a loan.”

The fish sizzled in the pan as tears came to my eyes. I did not want to believe it. I couldn’t believe it.

My heart shattered as I watched his sad eyes. He had worked hard to build this company and create an atmosphere of trust and respect. I grieved for my husband and for the other employees who had given their all to make the company successful.

Art had talked about retiring, but not soon and not like this, not in this rotten economy that brought pain to innocent people while others got rich. I wanted to scream, gesturing with both hands like my Italian great-grandmother used to do. But what would have been the point? It would have just given me a sore throat for the next two weeks and reduced my ability to scream about things I actually thought I could change.

Coming back to reality and realizing I had burned the fish, I heard my husband say, “We’ll run the foreign operations, but we’re closing the US plant, and I’m retiring in June.

“You’re WHAT?!” I thought.

Talk about an earthquake. Certainly it pales in comparison to reality, but for that moment when my husband announced his retirement, I felt as if a Tsunami had picked me up and spit me out the other end. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was also a foreshadowing of the unease we both would feel as we adjusted to his retirement.

After Art retired that June, we attempted to settle into this retirement marriage, but our consideration and kindness for one another disappeared like melting ice in the tropics. The only advantage to our behavior today is that we can look back on it and appreciate what we’ve learned—and where we never want to go again.

Retiring—whether you enjoy work or not—is hard, but when it comes earlier than anticipated, it can be downright miserable. You know that joyous expectation you have when you’re getting ready for a long awaited vacation? All that disappears when you lose the opportunity to dream about how to spend your retired days and the fabulous things you would do with extra time. When retirement is thrust upon you, you may find yourself clutching your stomach and licking your wounds. That's exactly what happened to us.

I can’t believe he’s retiring.

My life will never be the same.

—Wife with a Retired Husband

A Different Life Style

At the time of Art’s retirement, I lived a pretty independent life. Working out of our home as a free-lance writer for small companies, I was in command of how I spent my time. I balanced work, household chores, and community involvement with time for friends and grandkids. I had planned to continue working after his retirement, but the sudden invasion of my time that Art’s presence caused— even when he did nothing wrong—stunned me.

As president of a company, my husband was used to getting answers when he needed them. I, unfortunately, was not used to giving answers when he wanted them. As an independent writer, I required long periods of uninterrupted quiet time to reflect on the content at hand. He couldn’t make sense of my annoyance when he innocently, bless his heart, walked into my space and started talking. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t see that I was in the middle of inspired, prize-winning writing or that he was stunting my creativity.

Sparks flew. I typically took audible breaths and grumbled loudly as steam shot out of my ears. He stood there, shaking his head, astonished by my response. Despite all this absurdity, I never did retrieve those perfect thoughts—nor did I win an Award for the World’s Best Work in Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness, but that’s beside the point. No, we just simply managed to continue to annoy one another.

Another area of our discontent also stemmed from Art’s role as a company president. As much as he empowered people to do their jobs well, the buck stopped with him. He was used to making decisions and being the person in charge. Now he had only one person to be in charge of, and she did not respond so well because she thought she was in charge of herself.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Googling

I used to hate it when my father would say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” in an effort to inspire me to do something. Now in my sixties, I still hate that expression but I knew it was time, once again, to act on his wisdom. I wrote in a journal when Art and I first started having what we called differences of opinion. It helped me vent, but it wasn’t enough. I began scouring the Internet, visiting book stores and searching for magazine articles in our local library that could help me understand what was happening to our relationship in this new stage of our marriage. True, there were plenty of books and articles on retirement, but their topics primarily included financial security, nursing homes, extended health care insurance, healthy life styles, and places to live. There’s no denying that all of these factors play an important role in a happy, healthy retirement, but these weren’t my concern at the moment. I wanted to learn how to live with retirement—not where to live.

I never did find any information that helped. Needless to say, that didn’t sooth my frazzled nerves.

Note: The “in charge” symptom is not unique to company presidents. Most anyone who had even one employee report to him, struggles in retirement with being the person who should make the decisions and know the answers.

Women Helping Women

Despite, or maybe because of, my frazzled nerves, I began sharing my concerns and questions with other wives of retired husbands, for I knew that women’s ability to help one another simply by sharing and listening can be extraordinarily effective and helpful. I was looking for some ideas, and yes, sympathy, that would help me get through this confusing period in our relationship. I started to think of these comrades as fellow members in some sort of strange club. Their stories brought me comfort and a great deal of understanding about the necessary adjustments in a retirement marriage. They showed me that Art and I weren’t falling off a cliff and helped me learn to laugh about and deal with his newfound foibles. My friends’ stories provided understanding and ideas to help us get our marriage back on track. And best of all, these conversations showed me I was not alone.

I spoke with dozens of women in various situations and different economic circumstances. Their husbands had worked in education, the arts, construction and sales as well as in factories, administration, service jobs, engineering, computers, and almost anything else you can think of that men do to provide for their families.

Some retired couples lived happily in retirement communi- ties and spent time playing golf, others worked full or part time. Some women had been at-home all or most of their married life and wanted to continue to enjoy their domestic tranquility and interests—unregulated by a new boss. Economically, some had few financial constraints while many expressed concerns about the size of their retirement fund. Some of the women were old hands at this retirement game while a number had just entered this stage and expressed anxiety about the future. All, however, shared interesting comments—some funny, some sad, some scary and some surprising. I learned in conversations with friends with retired husbands that retirement is a journey into the third stage of marriage, and are the basis for the last two of the seven commandments. For our discussion let’s consider Stage I of marriage as a time for explora- tion and discovery, when couples get to know one another and their most intimate quirks. Stage II of a marriage is a time for career and family building.1 Stage III is time for retirement, and that brings a host of challenges and possibilities.

The women I spoke with showed me that this new adventure called retirement can be fraught with disagreement, unhappiness, and tension or it can be filled with contentment, exploration, new understanding, and sheer joy. They showed me that we all have a choice.

Achieving joy in retirement will take work, empathy, and compromises, but the choice to accomplish that state of happiness is ours for the taking.

When I saw that my new best friends had made adjustments in their retirement marriage to meet one another’s needs, I began to realize that Art and I could do that too—just as we had done in the past when difficulties crossed our path. I also found that sharing with others and learning to laugh at things that were driving me crazy made this journey into retirement marriage ever so much easier.

My friends’ comments revealed that the vast majority of mar- riages go through a retirement adjustment period, and even women who felt that their husbands were their best friends still had to make adjustments. It’s hard to say whether the shock of arguing or the disappearance of your dream for blissful retirement causes these problems, but this period is generally challenging for every- one—whether you had a great relationship or struggled throughout the years. I know I felt like Alice in Wonderland traveling down the rabbit hole, never knowing what would happen next, and I just wanted this bad dream to end.

Note to the Retiree: If you think that your partner made a remark about your behavior for this book, Congratulations! Recognition is the first step to recovery. Before you go flying off the handle like a pan flung across the room, however, keep in mind that, on average, at least four people made similar comments for each situation that’s discussed. Don’t flatter yourself thinking that you are the only retiree who can cause such frustration.

— Three Stages of Marriage —


Promise, ecstasy, desire to please


Birth of Children

Joy, excitement, exhaustion



Freedom, fixed income, bliss potential

Why This Book

Once I saw the void in opportunities for woman to rant, rave, cry and laugh about their retirement marriage I knew I wanted to help. Admittedly, I had reservations, for, like many other women, I was not used to baring my soul or broadcasting personal issues. Though I am not a counselor or psychologist, I am a fellow traveler. I’m also a good listener who has spoken with dozens of women with retired husbands who wanted to share their stories and help other women. I began to see that, collectively, we women could help one another prepare for and overcome the many surprises of having a husband now at home, day in and day out.

My conversations with other wives of retired husbands and the information I have culled from research on changes that occur in retirement showed me that, while husbands face major changes in retirement, we, the forgotten partners, whether we are working outside the home, working from home or who have been “at home” for some time, are just as affected by these changes as our husbands. Some might argue that adjustment to retirement is similar to adjusting to marriage in general, but subtle differences in a newly married relationship and one of twenty, thirty or forty years precip- itate varied responses and needs. It’s my hope that the information in this book will help you see you are not alone, and will provide ideas to help you and your husband get over the retirement hump so you can move toward a fantastic retirement marriage.

How This Book Can Help

How do you cope or respond when you come up against a difficult or surprising situation? Do you try to make everything better, do you try to ignore it, or do you strive to find steps you can take to at least ease the discomfort? Survive Your Husband’s Retirement will show you how women with all types of personalities and in all kinds of situations, have handled the adjustments that retirement requires in a marriage. It will also provide information on possible reasons for what many wives perceive as their husband’s errant behavior. This information, along with tips from the experts, our fellow travelers down Alice’s dark rabbit hole, will throw you life- lines that will help to move you from just surviving your husband’s retirement to thriving together as a couple.

Each chapter in Parts I and II is based on one of The Seven Commandments of Retirement Marriage which you will find listed at the back of the book.

Why Seven Commandments?

After talking with my new best friends, I found five primary types of transgressions of retired husbands that make wives want to tear their hair out—or their husband’s if they still have any. They are discussed in Part I of this book. In addition to a commandment, each chapter offers suggestions for maintaining sanity in your husband’s retirement. Reading other women’s stories might spark thoughts or ideas about your own marriage.

Your thoughts, concerns and dreams matter, so you might want to start a journal where you can write your wildest ideas, most beautiful fantasies, biggest aggravations or passionate goals. No one else need see your entries, but writing and thinking about your feelings will help you determine what you need in this phase of your retirement. By the time you finish reading this book you might even want to hold those passionate goals out for all, or at least your hubby, to see.

Note: If by chance I missed your most vexing example of errant behavior in a retired husband, share that at: It’s a perfect place to rant. While on the web site, you might look at the workshops that help retired wives or couples make adjustments in their retirement marriage and empower you to create the retirement of your dreams.

Part II of this book will help you move from merely surviving your husband’s retirement to thriving as a couple. As in Part I, chapters 6 and 7 offer ideas on how to create a positive and loving retirement relationship with one another. They provide further information on changes that occur as you enter this potentially wonderful third stage of marriage. In Parts III and IV you’ll find tips for bringing out the best in each other.

Finally, you may recall the song recorded by the Byrds, Pete Seeger and many others about there being a season for every time. The verses come from Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible, and I quote the King James Version as I share a few verses along with some helpful thoughts to apply to your retirement marriage.

To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Neither of you may feel certain about your purpose right now as you adjust to his retirement, but rest assured, when your spouse finds his new purpose in retirement, it will feel heavenly.

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up.

You may think you’re going to break down at this point, if you don’t kill him first—but wisdom, patience—and lots of forbearance—will help both of you to build a satisfying retirement marriage.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

You may feel like weeping as you mourn this change in your relationship, but it’s possible to bring back the desire to laugh and (maybe) dance with your husband again.

A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time of war, and a time of peace.

You may sometimes feel as if you’re in a state of war, but after war comes peace. Here’s to peace and happiness in your retirement years.

Think of this book as a tool that will help you remember that you’re not alone and you certainly aren’t crazy.

Alone, all alone, nobody but nobody

can make it out here alone.”


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