October 15, 2017

A Wife's Perspective: Betty's View of Retirement

Over the past few months I have received several requests to share some of my wife's thoughts about retirement. This post was written about almost 5 years ago but not much that is important has changed,except we have been retired for that much longer. I have left it the way she answered the questions in January 2013. I will plan on a full update sometime in the coming months.

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 happened 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!


  1. Bob, I loved this post! You definitely have found a “keeper”...and she’s handy too! Looking forward to part two.

    1. 41+ years together, yes, Betty is a keeper.

  2. As I read the end of Betty's post I am wondering if Bob does all the planning/to do lists and Betty does all the grunt work! All that stuff at the end sounds like a lot of work!

    1. Pretty much. Though, since this post was first written 5 years ago, age has taken its toll and both of us do less physical work. The kind of things Betty listed at the end of this post are now mostly handled by handymen. She has shifted her physical efforts to building crafts and supplies for church projects. I handle some backyard chores but leave the hard stuff to a lawn service.

      When this was written she was quite the dynamo and would tackle anything, anytime.

  3. Betty it is reassuring to hear that I am not alone in feeling that even in retirement there is not enough time.

    I found myself resenting that Hubby has time to pursue his hobbies and relax and watch football. I told him that I don’t want him to stop doing his hobbies but I want time to do mine too.

    I, like you, do the house projects like painting and household maintenance as well as maintaining the yard and gardens. Hubby does most of the laundry, cleaning, dishes - the routine household chores. I’m the list maker and manage the money, most of which is automated. I’m also the social coordinator which takes a big block of my time.

    The division of chores has worked for us the 45 years we have been married but isn’t working now. Many of the tasks Hubby did are now done by someone else such as snow plowing.

    I’m not sure how to move forward in finding more time for myself but I’m working on it. Good luck to you also in finding time for your creative work.

    1. Thanks, Mary, for your thoughts. I'm glad to see another woman who loves the same type of active projects that I do. More power to you!

      Bob and I have found that it good to change our chores. So, for one period I will do a certain set of house chores while Bob does the rest. Then, we switch duties. This tends to keep us from not feeling locked into the same work over and over.

      One of the important steps we took about a year ago was to have the yard work and the deep house cleaning done by others. These were the two chores that irritated us the most. He wanted the yard work done and I wanted the deep cleaning so we each got what we wanted removed from our responsibilities.

      It was important enough to us to cut the budget in some other areas to make it all work. It freed up time for each of us to do what made us happier.

  4. During my last few years of excessive overwork before I retired, Rob gradually took over most of the gardening and housework, and even the cooking (and he hates cooking). Now that we are both retired, we are gradually working out a balance of sharing the household tasks. I do all of the laundry, planning, social coordination, and floor washing; and most of the grocery shopping, cooking, and bathroom cleaning. Rob does all of the household repairs, technology, vacuuming, camper maintenance, pond maintenance, and pet care. We share bill paying, garbage/recycling, general house cleaning, and yard work, and we each look after our own vehicle. Rob and my adult son who lives with us each cook one dinner a week, and alternate on doing the dishes and kitchen cleanup. My son also does his own laundry and some of the house cleaning and yard work, and helps on many little tasks (especially those that involve strength or tech expertise). It is a very equitable arrangement, and we each have lots of time for our own interests and hobbies. I can’t believe how much time there is in the day now compared to when I was working!



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