August 2, 2013

Betty's Thoughts: Retirement From Her Perspective

Regular readers of satisfying retirement know my wife appears in these posts almost as often as I do. Her photos from our various travels have proven quite popular. Her ability to transformation dull spaces on a tight budget was detailed in a post called Backyard Magic. We celebrated our 37th anniversary in June and are leaving in a few days for a vacation to Portland. We have proven to make a good team, even though we are very different people in many ways.

So, I thought it would be interesting to ask Betty to share some of her thoughts after a dozen years of retirement have passed. Here she is, in all her glory, answering my questions to her:

What is a typical day like for you?

That’s like asking a jumping bean to retrace its steps! My days are usually dictated around things that I have to do, (Chores, dog, fixing things, health care), need or want to do, (Volunteering, Church activities, reading the Bible, exercising, being with my husband or friends), are planned and on the calendar, (Dr. appointments, meetings), or people want or need from me. (The girls or my grandchildren, friends, what Bob has put on his chore list – Yes, that’s a whole other Blog!).
I also do lots of projects – Carpentry, fixing things around the house, building stage and theater backdrops and props, modifying and fixing up the RV, painting, gardening and photography. I am not very good at doing things just for me or just for pleasure, however, I am getting better over time. Actually now that I think of it, what is pleasurable for me is doing for other people. It gives me purpose and I feel that glorifies God. I’m not one to sit around. I mentally can’t. If I am doing something, I’m thinking of 20 other projects.

We are very different people in many ways. What has made our retirement lifestyle work well in spite of those differences?
I’m lazy when it comes to remembering when you must do things. (When to start taxes, when the car needs a checkup, when to eat the almost expired cans in the pantry) Bob, on the other hand is the ultimate list planner!
Bob is a morning person and needs at least 8 hours sleep every night. I work on very little sleep and can go into the early morning hours working on projects. It's difficult when Bob turns off the lights and goes to bed when I'm getting my most creative thoughts and am ready to begin a project at the same time. Unfortunately my workspace and computer are in the bedroom right now. (Our daughter has my office) The ideal situation is each of us have our own work areas. 
Bob is a neat freak mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m messy mentally, physically, and emotionally. Bob is logical and is well read while I am passionate and creative. He is the ultimate list maker while I flit from one thing to another. Some people say we complement each other. Sometimes we just stay out of each other’s way and find each other at the end of the day to snuggle in front of the TV!
I’m a bit absent minded: where have I laid my phone, the keys, the car, my mind? Oh, wait, we’re in the same boat on this one!

I’m mostly deaf – He’s hard of hearing. We have that in common and our daughters could write a sitcom about our near miss conversations! Seriously, when two people are deaf, there can be a huge communication problem. We've solved part of this problem by going into the same room to speak and listen to each other rather than yelling down the hallway.

Why has retirement worked well for us? Our core beliefs are the same. Humor, lots of it! We give each other individual space, we normally have separate rooms for our offices - we are not joined at the hip with our projects and activities yet we plan time each day so that we can be together. We are learning to respect each other more and to add a little spice to our life so that we don’t let our relationship get in a rut. (Bob is actually the serendipitous one!).
This might sound silly, but chores are cut down the middle and every other week we switch. We share all of the household responsibilities. Bob has always done his own laundry! He might not be the most romantic guy in the world but for me, sexy is a man who cooks, dusts, vacuums, cleans bathrooms, makes the bed and does the dishes! I do just as much backyard work as Bob and my “projects” consist of resurfacing doors and bathroom tiled walls, digging holes for hundreds of plants and laying flagstone etc… so I’m sure that warms his heart. We are not the conventional couple and after reviewing what we do for each other it makes me want to grab my husband for a passionate kiss! Be right back! ....   
Is our relationship all flowers and romance? Absolutely not! We both have trust issues. We both like to be in control. I’m passionate about things and will want to get things out in the open (verbally fight) while Bob will leave the situation to think. (leaving me to stew in my own juices)  He’s normally the first to apologize. We both feel safe and secure in our relationship. We know that we are in this marriage until death do us part. We have a spiritual commitment to each other.

The addition of an RV has been a big change in our life. What do you find most appealing about the RV lifestyle?
The freedom - We can “get off the world” anytime that we need a break. It’s not that we’re really running away from the world as much as it’s running toward each other!

I love being able to loan the rig to our family. Our oldest daughter, her husband and their kids recently returned from their first mini vacation in the RV. The looks on their faces after coming back? Priceless!
I love traveling to new places and meeting new people and taking pictures. I love to take pictures!!
I enjoy renovating it. I love building things and redecorating.

What parts of the RV lifestyle do you dislike?

Bob driving long distances and then us having to set up and break down in one day. Everyone gets testy.
Bob’s idea of seeing the sights is at 65 miles per hour. My idea is to actually stop along the way.  “We” compromise – I take pictures out the window using a fast shutter speed! Actually I take some pretty good pictures this way!
I have to pack and un-pack a lot of stuff that melts in 140 degrees inside the RV (Which just about includes everything!) Remember, we live in AZ. It would be nice if we could buy 2 of everything and just leave it in the RV but we can’t. We have to store it somewhere in the house.

What have been the biggest surprises for you after a dozen years of retirement?
The more time I have, the more time seems to flutter away. I’m working harder with volunteering than I have ever worked at my career but enjoying it more.
I thought there would be more “leisure” time. Maybe I need to re define the word “leisure!”
The mental, physical, and spiritual problems that you have before retirement will follow you into retirement. They don’t magically disappear. The difference is now you can face them head on and prioritize.
Looking ahead, how do you see life changing?
I see Bob and me taking our relationship to a higher level both spiritually and emotionally.
We will be making the decision soon to move to a more tolerable climate in the summer.
I see more fun RV trips both long and short. And hopefully some trips abroad.
As my abilities diminish (I can’t lift boulders or 10’x12’ canvases or hold my jigsaw steady for long periods anymore) I find that I have to rely more on people to help me and I’m finding this to be rather pleasant!
I see more moves to downsize which means moving - UGH, but also being able to “purge” not only with possessions but mentally also! Ten years ago I would have had a fit about this (I’m a collector) but now starting fresh actually sounds quite refreshing.  It’s actually a great way to get creative with heirlooms. Get rid of Great Grandma’s china set but keep the chipped or broken plates, crack them into pieces and make trivets out of them! No more bulky dishes to move (Be honest, how many moves did those boxes make without even unpacking them!)
How about those lovely World War II letters from your parents or grandparents? Put them under glass with some pictures in your bedroom dressers and end tables. Make a scrapbook or display them in deep frames. Maybe someday I’ll write a book on all the creative ways to get rid of “bulk.”
Unfortunately I see with age more freedoms being taken away, but in the same breath I see me having the maturity to respond to these changes rather than react.

I have seen so many changes in my life. Some of them have been quite extraordinary. Some people see change as frightening. I see it as life evolving. Is that good or bad? It’s neither. It’s just life. You can hold on with white knuckles or just lift your arms and let life flow over you.
Betty and an up country Maui friend

There you have it: the complex, loving, independent, feisty woman I married.


  1. Wow, gutsy move Bob. Letting your wife have full say on a blog post. I don't know if I have the nerve to do that!

    My wife and I share many of your composite characteristics, but with a different mix. We also are two very different people. Rotating household chores, that sounds interesting but I kind of like the one I have permanently. Beside I would never mange to get Yvonne on the tractor for a lawn mow (ha).

    Get Betty's computer out of the bedroom so she can do her thing while you sleep. My wife stays up while I get my regular 11 - 7 sleep. I don't know what she does but if she did it in our bedroom there would be problems. Separate workspaces for sure....

    Why don't you add English Signing to your list? I'm sure it is available in your area. It makes communicating much easier sometimes.

    It sounds we both were very fortunate to meet our perfect match in life.

    1. Betty has her own office but is became our youngest daughter's bedroom when she had to move back home between jobs. Now, after two years, we think she is moving out next month. Then, Betty's office reappears and our bedroom becomes...our bedroom. It has been a long "temporary change."

      English signing is a good idea. After we get the house put back together we will look into it.

      I'd agree: we both hit the jackpot.

    2. RJ, how would you recommend learning English sign language? My husband's hearing aids are better than not having them but not as helpful as one would expect, especially with the high prices. We miscommunication so often -- sometimes it's funny and sometimes it is beyond irritating and then I feel like such a mean wife-(

  2. I always enjoy the posts where Betty shares her perspective.I am also in awe of a woman who can wield a hammer and power tools..I could use some lessons.. I am going to go back and re read "Backyard Magic" again-- Betty's garden /decorating skills are an inspiration!

    We did our first downsize last year, and it sort of inspires you to keep at it-- like Betty,I am learning to actually look forward to more new beginnings and also continuing to purge the "stuff.." Yes, we STILL have some unpacked boxes from last summer.. a clue we need to keep at it..

    Hope Oregon is a lovely respite from Az. heat!

    1. She actually wants a particular kind of saw for Christmas! And, for her 60th birthday next year, it may have to be a nail gun!

      I am a clutter-free, almost minimalistic kind of person. Living with a wife who is a collector and involves herself in messy projects and a daughter who isn't afraid to take over space with her stuff makes it interesting.

      I'm taking a light jacket to Oregon. I really hope I get to use it.

  3. Bob, as much as I enjoy your writings, Betty is a natural as well. Both of your perspectives give many of us who are only partway out the work door a unique window on topics such as time management, as well as insights into how a certain number of years of retirement change both a person and their environment. Both of you appear to be well grounded and truly soulmates. I hope to continue to see both of your perspectives in the coming months and years, since this is exactly what many of us enjoy most about your web site and your books. Thanks to both of you.

    1. Besides giving me a mini break from writing, I enjoy what she has to say, too. Betty has little confidence in her writing so it is very nice for her to read comments like yours. I think she expresses herself quite well.

      We will continue to air our clean and somewhat soiled linen in public for the foreseeable future.

  4. Betty seems like such a fun person! We have the same kind of marriage. I'm also the creative one with a sewing or painting project always out in the way, while my husband neatly works around me. She's right about commitment being the key to making this marriage or any marriage work. It was so nice to get her perspective on a satisfying retirement! Have a great trip!

    1. She is fun, in a Betty kind of way! Commitment is the core of any relationship. Without it you just have a partnership of convenience.

      Thanks for your supportive thoughts.

  5. I can see a "HIS AND HER" blog scenario.. Retirement from two points of view..Betty DOES express herself in a charming and very interesting manner.. I'd love to see more blogs from her!!!!

    I'm sure that with your Oregon trip and then a 3 week RV trip a "home office" won't be necessary for a while! You'll be enjoying Mother Nature and your travels..time to reorg. the home space come Autumn....

  6. Actually, she is building an office space in the RV ! No rest for the creative.

    I will look for regular opportunities for Betty to chime in. Of course, 95% of the photos I post from various trips are hers.

  7. Oh boy, am I ever on the Betty fan wagon now! I can see she gives you a run for your money, which in my opinion is what keeps a man interested over the long haul, and probably why you two are still very happily married and in love.

    What a wonderful post. Thank you both for being so open, because in doing so it helps some of us slow learners out here. It also can make us feel better about our own inadequacies. (We also get testy after long drives towing our travel trailer. So glad to know it's not just us! :-)

    1. We'll have a fun time together in Portland. Mike and I can compare notes while you and Betty talk about us!

      Oh, it turns out she wants a band saw for her 60th. And, she says she is building a medicine cabinet for the RV bathroom. I learn something new everyday.

    2. I got a band saw for Christmas one year, and loved it, so go Betty!

  8. Bless her heart, I love it when Betty posts. My first two thoughts (before I read daughter was leaving) were-get that woman a nightime studio, even if you have to sacrifice the the living room and/or get Bob a blindfold and earplugs.LOL. In our marriage we were too messy people with lots of creative hobbies and had to have space.

    I'm looking forward to seeing her desk/creative space in the RV. Right now my creative spaces are a tv tray and large baskets and the patio table and I am going nuts.

    Hopefully we will get a Betty Blog more often.

    Oh, and I never budget more than six hours of on the road time, no matter where I want to go-and that includes any spur of the moment side trips along the way. I have learned the hard way on this one. some of the best parts of the road trips were not where I ended up, but the sudden stops I took in the middle of the day, or the slower back routes.

    1. Her office was completely redesigned for her just before our daughter moved back home. I think she got to enjoy it for about a month. I know she is very anxious to get back to a space with a door that closes! Hopefully I can post a picture of her working at her light table next month.

      Also in September I'll have a post showing all the modifications she has made to the RV.

  9. This was so fun to read! Betty sounds a lot like my daughter in law. She's an installation artist and has more tools than my husband! She takes care of most home repairs and my son does most of the cooking. It's not the stereotypical, but it really works for them.

    I completely understand the need for your own space! Since Dave's been home f/t for over a year, we are getting better at sharing space, but I do most of the compromising on that front. Artists really are messy, by nature! I won't apologize for it, but when you're with a bit of a's very challenging!

    Thanks for sharing Betty with us!

    1. Artists are very messy, but there is no other way to create!

      BTW, I do most of the menus and shopping lists and prepare at least half the dinners each week. Unusual? Maybe, but it works for us. Besides I figure she was solely responsible for meals for about 25 years, so it is my turn.

  10. I like hearing from Betty. It rounds out the picture of "Satisfying Retirement".


    1. We are in the same club. I like hearing from Betty, too.

  11. You are a lucky man. But I didn't have to tell you that.

  12. Thanks everyone for your warm and informative replies to this post! It's always interesting to see how other people deal, and flourish with each other's idiosyncrasies! I would love to give my opinion every once in a while on Bob's Blog but certainly not all of the time. Writing comes naturally to Bob but not to me. He might spend 2 minutes on a paragraph where it takes me half a day! I'll stick with providing some photographs instead.

    I feel very close to all of you. It feels like we're all on a big wrap-a-round porch drinking sweet tea and swapping stories! Is that gardenia that I smell? Thank you again sweet people!

  13. Betty, Thank you for your blog...very insightful. Bob doesn't read blogs very often, so I share the ones I think he'll like. I'm sending him the link to this one (yours) because he will identify with the way you two operate. (We are similar to both of you in that we are different, but have learned those differences are good. Oh, and both of us have hearing problems so we have had some hilarious miscommunications as well.)

    I look forward to reading more from you.


    1. Thanks Susan for reading and sharing that blog. My Bob let's me write on his blog every once in a while... He's very brave!

      I think most people come to problems from different perspective which makes life interesting. I think problems occur when you know you're spouse is comming from a different perspective and you want to constantly change that perspective. That's called pushing buttons and that's where it gets tense. So here's to NOT pushing those buttons and zipping up our mouths!

      RJ Walters came up with a terrific solution for those of us that can't hear each other. Take classes on sign language. Then I assume like any language, you have to use it daily to be good at it.

      Thanks again for the input!


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