Categorized | Features, Laurie's Scribbles

When Retirement Means Cramped Quarters

Laurie and husband settling into retirement

Since Randy’s retirement, he and Laurie are adjusting to being together all day.

By Laurie Stone

My husband Randy and I are a good team. We always have been. And yet, as we’ve both adjusted over the past year to his early retirement — and him being home all the time — I see now how different we are. I’ve even wondered how we managed to survive all these years, still loving and liking each other. Here in no particular order are ways we both continue to … well, “perplex” the other.

Randy’s an extrovert. I’m an introvert. My husband is funny, outgoing, and charming. He has an extrovert’s love of people, talking, and socializing. I have my fun moments too, but that’s the key. They’re moments.

Randy and I will go out to dinner and have a great time. “A good band is playing in Fairfield tonight. Let’s go,” he’ll say after we eat. Sometimes I will, but more times than not by 9:30 p.m., I’m ready for my pajamas and the latest episode of The Crown. I feel boring, but thank God, Randy understands my limited introvert energy.

Randy needs music — constantly. I worship quiet. Even on the back porch in the summer, Randy will put on pretty classical music. Nice, right? Meh. I love natural noise — chirping birds, croaking tree frogs, and soft breeze rustling the leaves. But Randy’s a musician. He can’t tolerate a world without notes, chords, and melody.

So we’ve learned to compromise. We alternate his need for musical interludes with “ambient noise” breaks for me.

Randy falls asleep in 5 seconds. I lie awake for hours. I’ve heard lots of wives say this. Men hit the pillow and start snoring immediately. It doesn’t matter what’s on their minds. Women ruminate. We take longer to fall unconscious, giving rise to thoughts like … Did I leave the garage door open? Was my neighbor strangely distant the other day? Hey, I never heard back from that electrician.

Meanwhile, Randy sleeps like an angel while I lie there, sometimes jealous. He never sweats the small stuff. Me? I sweat everything.

Randy loses things. I find things. Phone, car keys, bills, paperwork … you name it, my husband has lost it. Many times. He can search a room for his wallet for an hour and not see it. Then he’ll call me in. I’m like the Long Island Medium with psychic abilities to scan the space and spot the missing item in seconds. I’m not sure what all this means, except maybe my mind is more, ahem, detail-oriented? 

Randy doesn’t mind a “lived in” look. I need monk-like order. It’s a good thing his office has a door. And he admits it himself — he’s “organizationally challenged.” Somehow this plays into our personalities. Randy’s easy-going and takes life — and objects — as he finds them. If he can find them. I need order and control to be happy. Somehow we’ve struck an adult, mature truce. And I cover my eyes when I enter his space.

Randy lives in the present. I’m hopelessly enslaved by the future. I’ve been keeping to-do lists on index cards for 38 years. I plot out days, weeks, and months. Randy never keeps a calendar. Ever. It’s all in his head. I honestly don’t know how he does it. I never see him write anything down — appointments, birthdays or errands … and yet he never misses anything.

In the way I need to plot out my future like it’s a trip to the South Pole, Randy’s memory seems to operate on a spontaneous, “as-needed” basis.  It’s an uncanny talent.

He’s generous. I’m stingy. No one shops like my husband. If he buys food, it’s enough to supply the Russian army in January. No wonder the kids loved opening his gifts so much more than mine. Where I gave socks and pajamas (hey, they were cool socks and pajamas), Randy gave the hottest new toy or snowboards or musical equipment. I was too busy calculating the cost of everything. It’s hard for me to be that financially care-free.

I’ve always thought, if you put us together, you’d have this wonderful, balanced person. You’d have the fun of Randy, with the practical side of me.

And maybe that’s what marriage is. Marriage is the melding of two people into this perfect, invisible third person.

But perhaps I’m forgetting all the things we have in common — we share the same values and commitment to our sons. We’re both indoor people who like to sleep late on weekends. We both like to make fun of certain politicians. We each enjoy a good diner breakfast.

Maybe we have more in common than I realized.

But maybe it’s also true: Opposites do attract.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, CT.  Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles” shares thoughts on growing up, older, and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

 

13 Responses to “When Retirement Means Cramped Quarters”

  1. My husband and I are polar opposites too Laurie – and he works from home. Somehow or other we manage to not drive each other crazy and so many of the differences actually balance each other out so (hopefully) we’ll live happily ever after. I always smile when I see others doing the same thing.

  2. I enjoyed this post. I’ve been retired for a year, and my husband has been retired for 10 years. This past year has been a period of adjustment. He’s an extrovert, and I’m an introvert. We’re adjusting pretty well to being around each other all the time. It has taken me a year to gradually wind down from a lifetime of working. Best wishes to you and your husband for continuing to enjoy your retirement.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

  3. Lori says:

    It seems like you both have achieved a wonderful balance. My husband will never retire. It would drive both of us crazy! Lol!

  4. Laurie says:

    Leanne, I think it’s the best test of any marriage. Sounds like you and your husband have it down!

  5. Laurie says:

    Mimi, Thanks so much and good luck in your transitioning to “the other side.”

  6. Loraine says:

    Thanks for a wonderful article. Very thought provoking. Love your humor, and your photo.

  7. Jessica says:

    This is so lovely. It sure does sound like you are a great team. Enjoy your retirement together. Oh, and be sure to get him a good pair of headphones!

  8. Linda Hobden says:

    My husband & I are exact opposites to you & Randy! I’m more like Randy! LOL!

  9. Laurie Stone says:

    Lori, It has taken adjusting, but so far so good!

  10. Laurie Stone says:

    Loraine, Thanks so much for the kind words.

  11. Laurie Stone says:

    Jessica, Good idea about the headphones! Thank you.

  12. Laurie Stone says:

    Linda, I can’t imagine two of me or two of Randy. It would be quite an experiment.

  13. Hi Laurie! I love your photo and it expresses your post perfectly. Good for you for working it out to create a good marriage. I consider myself very fortunate that my husband and I are far more alike than not. We both love music, both love being outdoors, both love to read and mostly watch the same sort of tv programs….etc., etc. etc. Being so alike is wonderful in many ways but we still have challenges too….like we are both stubborn and like to get our way. 🙂 No matter what, learning to live with another person is always challenging. ~Kathy

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