Q: I am a 60 year old man and will retire
next month. My wife is the same age and has not worked throughout
our 30 year marriage. We are looking forward to my leaving work,
but one of my friends who recently retired found it did not live
up to his expectations.
What sort of stress might we experience?
A: For the newly-retired man, there is the possibility
of facing a number of stress factors. As a result of retirement
you may feel a loss of a sense of worth, you may feel inadequate,
may feel that you have now become a parasite on society, may
worry about your health and the state of your finances. You may
also have feelings of boredom and frustration, particularly where
you have had no hobbies or interests outside work and may also
now feel cut off from friendships you had at work and a loss
of social contacts. Your wife, who has always stayed at home
throughout the marriage will have built up a routine of life
during your working hours which has not necessarily included
you. She may feel a certain degree of resentment when you come
to spend more time in each other's company, perhaps because she
will be expected to curtail her friendships and a loss of freedom
to do as she wished during your work time. She may find your
presence, particularly where you might follow her around, too
demanding and intimidating and feel trapped in her new environment.
As a result of this, she may begin to lose patience with you
and other family members, but keeps things bottled up. She may
become withdrawn, feel helpless and hopeless, become restless
and jumpy, rarely finish things and experience difficulty sleeping.
Where you have a good relationship with each other and have maintained
a healthy balance and friends and activities outside work, then
stress factors can be minimised. Retirement can be a stressful
period, no matter how well-prepared you may think you are, as
there can always be something that has not been planned for to
upset things. For most people it would appear that the fact of
having to establish a new routine, realisation that they are
getting older and need to consider the future are major stress
It may be helpful for you and your wife to talk to each other
as she may also be apprehensive about your new future together.
Best wishes for the future. Please let us know how things
go - it may help other people.