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  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 She may become withdrawn, feel helpless and hopeless, become restless and jumpy, rarely finish things and experience difficulty sleeping.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 factors.

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.

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