January 18, 2013

Betty Has Her Say: A Wife's View of Retirement

Over the past 30 months of writing for Satisfying Retirement  there have been lots of posts that have included information about my wife, Betty, and our journey together. Probably two or three dozen e-mails over that time have asked to hear more from her and what she thinks about the retirement from her perspective.

So, I took the bait and posed some questions for her to answer. Wow! Her insight and responses were so interesting and important that I am turning this into a two part post. This time, you can read her answers to the first four questions. Next week I'll have part two with her answers to the last three questions.




…What have been the biggest changes in your life over the past 11 years of retirement?

"First of all...Are you kidding? I get a whole blog post on my opinion about everything!"

Before Bob retired he worked 5 days and nights a week in other states. I worked as a pre-school teacher while raising our two daughters. Our family had two schedules. The girls and I lived a rather unstructured life (except for school work and extracurricular activities) when Bob was on the road. When he was home on weekends the girls and I “switched gears” and led a structured life with planned family fun time.

Bob has always had this marvelous way of finding fun things to do either as a couple or a family. It sounds as if it was hard for the girls and me to “flip” into another schedule but it really wasn’t at all. We had the best of both worlds. My Bohemian way of living (Eating when we’re hungry, dropping everything and veering off or doing messy projects all over the house and staying up late to finish projects) enabled the girls and me to be at our creative best during the week. It also taught the girls to be more disciplined on the weekends. The difference was we were scheduled and disciplined on the weekends and more laid back on the weekdays. Most families are the exact opposite.

The big change is having Bob here all of the time. He’s not used to seeing messes everywhere. (The girls and I would clean everything up on Fridays before he got home) He also was used to all of these projects being done every week before he got back. He never experienced the processes of our creations.

My spiritual life is deeper, more fulfilling and in turn, my friendships have become much more satisfying and more meaningful. My relationship with Bob is on a higher level, too. We have grown much closer.


What have been your biggest surprises about retirement?

That I can deal with a lot of change. Bob and I retired and I got another full time job, We downsized into a house half the size and retired about the same time the girls left for college. My doctor of 12 years moved away, my health insurance company pulled out of state, our beloved dog Muffin died, we started going to another Church after 20 years. Then the tragic events 9/11 happenbed which meant we cancelled our 25th anniversary trip to Europe which was to leave on 9/14. This was just the first year of our retirement!

I didn’t completely fall apart when we experienced a completely empty nest, but I loved it when one of our daughters temporarily moved back home.

I'm surprised we are still living in Arizona. But, with whole extended family living within 40 minutes of each other, moving wasn't really an option.

We own an RV! I never, ever dreamed that would be part of our life.


….What have been your biggest disappointments about retirement?

I still cannot find enough time for myself each day. I find myself comparing myself with Bob. He seems to be able to get all of his chores done and have lots of time for all of his hobbies. It’s been almost 12 years and I still can’t find the time!

My health is not where I thought it would be at this stage of my life. I have had lots of problems earlier than most people. Health is a huge factor when planning retirement. Do everything possible while you can because no one knows when you can lose your health.

I wanted to live in a small town where everyone has a huge front porch and you can walk to the downtown area or ride your bike around a nice lake. I wanted a place where the weather has mild seasons with green trees and grass that turn all different colors in the fall and all of the family is within walking distance of each other.

I live (and have lived for 28 years in a place where every house has a walled backyard, you have to drive a car to get to everything, the heat is in the triple digits for 5 months of the year, (you have to drive your dog to a grassy park because the sidewalks will burn the pads of their feet) most of our trees are 4 feet tall and prickly, and our front yards consist of rocks and not grass.

But… and this is a BIG but… My loving family is close by, we go to a church that we love, we can have lunch outside in short sleeved shirts in December, and most people have wonderful grassy backyards with swimming pools! You just have to put things in perspective!

My retirement has been wonderful in every sense and I couldn’t be happier with Bob and my family!


…How do you spend your days?


I would say that for the last year, two thirds of my day is spent taking care of our new pup! She has some emotional issues that have taken a lot of extra training and TLC.

I am just the opposite of my husband when it comes to planning anything. He will have lists of things that need to be accomplished every day, week, year. He will plan these things out on his smart phone and or his “Weekend List.” He then tells me what needs to be accomplished, we do it then if there is any time left I will do my list.

Unfortunately I never seem to have any time left in the day. I realize what a blessing this is for me knowing that he is taking care of me even beyond the grave. It is quite comforting to know that if Bob dies tomorrow I will know exactly what day to start compiling our tax information or his Father’s quarterly taxes, take out the recycling or the trash or our families’ Birthdays, until the day I die.

The thing that bothers me is that Bob seems to have plenty of time for reading and studying the Bible, pleasure reading, guitar practicing, e-mailing, reading blogs and writing his own blog; napping, etc…I can’t even find time to take a nap! We both watch the same amount of TV each day and he does 1/3 of the housework (We cut everything into 3rds with my grown daughter) and he does all of the finances plus all his own laundry etc….

Note…I think I have found out how I spend a huge amount of time around the house. I am the one in our household who does all of the seasonal changes to the house. I have “displays” that I set out for spring, summer, fall, winter, and all of the major holidays. I put up, take down, pack, unpack, buy new things, and creatively arrange them. I’m also constantly re-arranging the storage shed for all of these boxes. I also do all of the major projects around the house. Painting all of the walls, furniture, paintings, photography etc… Sanding and painting doors, replacing floor tiles, bathroom tiles grouting, and caulking and then cleaning the grout and re caulking the baths! I also dig holes and make waterfalls and ponds and such. Whew! It makes me tired just thinking about it!

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There you go...Betty's honest and unadorned thoughts on retirement. Part Two, with the last 3 questions will run next Friday.

28 comments:

  1. Great pic! And interesting post. I'll be looking forward to the second part.

    Ann M

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm afraid that Bob is the writer in this family. I tend to ramble on, but I had a fun time doing it!

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  2. Wow Bob, you are a very brave person to let Betty temporarily take control of your blog! I love her words, they show us much about how much you two love and need each other.

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    1. Temporarily take controll? I thought this blog was mine now. Just kidding! Seriously, they were very thought provoking questions which made me understand just how blessed we both are to have each other, our wonderful extended family and a huge support system through friends and Church.

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  3. Betty, this is an excellent description of how the two of you operate. In our household, I'm the list maker and organizer. Even in retirement I live by my to-do list. My husband Art is more laid back. At the beginning of a day I'll tell him what I've got happening that day. I'll ask him what his plans are and he'll say, "I don't know yet." I can't imagine that!

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    1. I am quite conflicted with the whole idea of organization. I love a clean and organized home and space, but the way I tend to work best is just the opposite...messy, spur-of-the-moment, and nonstop when the spirit moves me.

      I like the fact (most days) when Bob has a schedule for us. But, at times, I need to just go with the flow.

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  4. Betty my father traveled a fair amount (often for a couple weeks at a time) and I know that my mother also (even more than us kids) had a "double lifestyle", one when dad was home and one when he was not. You need to jump in more often-Satisfying retirement is about both the husband and wife. That said, you may need to tell your organizationally inclined husband that he only gets to plan half the hours available and the rest are to be played by ear.....

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    1. I'll be interested in his response to that suggestion, Barb. I'd tell him now but I think he's making up our weekend list.

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  5. Love this! It's interesting how our differences become so prominent when you're together 24/7, isn't it? Dave is very organized with some things and not with others but living with an artist is messy for him. We're working on it.
    Can't wait for the rest!
    b

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    1. Isn't it interesting how the little foibles that are cute when we first get married start to become issues later on in life!

      I have lost my "artist" space so when I made a mess no one had to see it. But, now our youngest daughter is living at home for awhile so my office is her bedroom, the side yard is home to the new RV, and the garage is now storage space. Bob sees my messes and it is stressful for him even though he knows we have no choice at the moment.

      Maybe I should move into Bob's office and he can use the space in the master bedroom...a solution?

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    2. Maybe, especially if the messes either him more than his neat desk. I am blessed to have a dedicated quitting room and know I may lose it in downsizing. I need to take some pics at some point

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  6. I enjoy reading all different perspectives on retirement, from men and women, probably since the topic is foremost in my mind. Deb has been retired for about three years, while I am still plugging away since I am the worrier about finances. But retirement will happen sooner than later, since I am starting to run into the proverbial wall.

    Your points around what you expected your life to be and where you both currently are were very interesting. Looking forward to the next round of questions!

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    1. How about having Deb answer these questions? You both might learn something fun and scary about each other.

      The things we expect to happen in retirement aren't always the things that do happen...but that is what makes it exciting. I am constantly reevaluating my goals bucause our life is rarely the same for very long.

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  7. Betty you are a superwoman! Bob that's great that you do a third of the house work. Really it is.

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    1. Let me tell you about the superman in my life and why I think my husband is the sexiest man alive! This by the way is the reason why I can do these projects around the house.

      Bob knows his way around a laundry room! He has always washed and dried his own clothes. Since we've retired, he usually does the menu each week and sometimes makes the dinner. When I make dinner he will rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. He takes care of all of the finances and budget and almost all of the maintenance of the backyard.

      Does he say, "I love you." all of the time? Not always in words but always by his actions!

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    2. Oh my, whatever Betty is drinking I better bottle it.

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  8. Betty (and Bob), I loved this post! Glad I came to it late because I got to read comments and responses, too! Betty, I hear you about that time problem. I never have enough time. How does Bob do find all that time for leisurely reading and Bible study?? Bob, I think you better bottle your time secret and sell it! Or better yet, give it away. Is that another blog post soon? I hope so!

    Betty, I agree with everyone else that you are a superwoman, and a super woman. You sparkle in person and across cyberspace. Can't wait to see you this summer.

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    1. It's good to hear from you Galen through Bob's blog and the post that Bob so bravely gave me.

      This year I'm taking a new approach to time and I wanted to share this with everyone because some solutions came from your book. The first one was from Step 3 "Give up the Delusion of control" specifically "Man plans, God laughs." I would become angry when I planned my day only to have all of the plans melt away because someone needed my help. I convently forgot that I LOVE helping people which surprisingly enough in turn makes me feel needed!

      The second area that I'm working on comes from Step 5 "Make haste to be kind and the chapter "Put your oxygen mast on first." As you said, some people feel they need to give and give until they are depleted. That was me! Now I'm focusing on giving myself some time, making me stronger to be there for others.

      Bob and I look forward to our time with you this summer. I'll let you know how I'm managing this precious time God has given us!

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    2. Betty, Thanks for reflecting that back to me. Sometimes I need to take my own advice!!

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  9. Gee, Bob, Betty has a lot of nice things to say about you. How much did you have to pay her!?! Just kidding. You sound every bit as super as your wife says you are, and I'm glad to have been able to get to "know" you a little bit thru your blog.

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    1. She is the "super" one for helping get the best out of me. I am certainly not the same person I was before marrying her.

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  10. Wow, Betty I now see why you don't have those quilts done that you talked about in the last post! Wonderful comments.
    I second Barb's comment about only letting Bob plan half of your day. However you two seem to have an excellent routine that works for you. Maybe he could put crafting/art time in his schedule for you? My creative time would be more productive if it didn't keep being shoved down the priority list.
    Thanks for an insightful post.

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    1. I could add so much to that list besides quilts. Do we all suffer from this problem of pushing back our special, creative time on our priority list?

      I like your idea about putting a block of creative time into the main schedule. Shouldn't everyone have a bit of time to think creative thoughts and then some more time actually doing something about those thoughts? Can you imagine schools or big corporations taking 2 hours out of every day and letting students/workers "daydream" about one situation or problem that they faced that day and creatively solve that problem. They would be given supplies, paper, computer programs to think above and beyound the problem.

      There you go. I just took a slice of time and was very productive with it! I guess some people would call it a waste of time. I see it as opening up my mind so that more ideas can come rushing in!

      Thanks for the boost!

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  11. LOVED this post! so very real and a peek into your lives, as a reader I really appreciate it.I also am interested in how retirement affects both husband and wife.My husband and I are 59 yrs, have 1 married daughter/son-in-law and grand baby who live near(12miles).We live in a small house(paid for long ago)and I am worried over personal space and time.In our marriage roles are different I am the primary breadwinner and worry about all financial items, husband does more of the chores around the house.Just by reading part I of this topic I have some thoughts like I better get things automated and apple pie order so God forbid anything happens to me hubby will know how to get tax stuff done.Really enjoy hearing from Betty and Bob for it is so interesting to hear both views.Nice work guys!

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    1. This is a subject that I believe all couples should deal with young and old. Bob and I work on "training" each other and occsionally switching roles so each of us are somewhat familiar with what the other person does. It is too easy to settle into our roles and not look to learn more.

      I have a "blue book" with the important financial stuff and how to get to it on line, but I will quickly admit I don't review the info as often as I should!

      Thanks so much for your comment. Bob says Part two will be this Friday..!!!

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  12. And to think I knew you two way back when, in Iowa, when you were my boss after Fred left. Unfortunately, I am not yet retired, am now headed into semi-retirement. Starting to relaunch my company after 15 mostly successful years. Still married to Shana

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    1. Well, there's a name from my past! Hi, Doug. Yes, I remember our times together, freezing our tails off in a Cedar Rapids winter driving to and from beautiful downtown Marion, and the airport.

      Glad to hear you are doing well, married to the same beautiful woman, and living the good life in Georgia while we hang out in Scottsdale. We have moved twice from the address you listed, once to upgrade, and then again after the girl s left we downsized.

      Betty says Hi. We are closing in on 12 years of retirement and 37 years of marriage. So far, it has all been much better than I deserved

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