Dear Miriam

My husband and I are now retired from farming and our son and daughter-in-law have happily taken over the reins. We have life use of the family home, which we share with them, and from that perspective all is well. My problem is that retirement is not how I thought it would be.

My husband does not seem to be able to give up the land and keeps working away, every day, with our son and I am left twirling my thumbs, so to speak.

I had visions of us enjoying this phase of our life in a happy and relaxed way, with more quality time together spent travelling, taking up new hobbies and generally, living a more relaxed life. The only time we go away is to visit our other children and their families who are in different counties. I really do enjoy the visits, but I would love at least one sun holiday in the year, to take up new hobbies, and simply enjoy taking it easy in our own home.

My son is aware of my dilemma and has tried to get his father to take it a bit easier, but to no avail. The whole situation is having a negative effect on my ability to enjoy life. My husband is kind and caring and I truly love him, but there are times when I feel so angry and abandoned by him. What can I do to make him change and start enjoying our retirement together?

Regular reader

Dear Reader

Thank you for contacting me and I am sorry to hear that retirement has not turned out as well as you expected.

The truth is, we cannot change another person, but we can change how we are around them. I can hear your frustration so first of all, I suggest you get a pen and paper and write down at least 10 reasons to feel grateful right now.

Our thoughts create our experiences. How can you change your thoughts and make your retirement more enjoyable? What would it be like to engage in new hobbies just for you? Volunteers are always needed by various organizations and this would be a lovely way to meet new people whilst actively helping good causes. Try yoga, pilates, or mindfulness classes – your mental and emotional health will benefit from any of these approaches.

You need to let go of totally depending on your husband to truly enjoy your retirement. Certainly having him around more often would enhance it, but true happiness and contentment comes from deep inside our own heart. If we depend on others to make us happy, it is like we hand over all our personal power to them. Start reclaiming your power now and you will find that you are less resentful and angry.

I understand you would like to spend more time with your husband though so have a chat with him and explain that you would like it if he would accompany you on a day out – perhaps go to your nearest town or city, have lunch, visit a local garden center. It is only one day, and maybe it would be a start. From little acorns the mighty oak trees grow. As time goes by, perhaps suggest a winter holiday-it is usually quieter on the farm then.

Try to understand things from his point of view. It may be that when your husband was a child, being ‘idle’ was very much frowned upon and hard work was the norm of the day. If he did not know any other way to live, it would be very difficult for him to change his ways, simply because he has officially reached retirement status. What pleasant, non-stressful task might you both enjoy together at home? Have you a garden in need of upgrading? Investing in a polytunnel and growing your own herbs and vegetables may prove very enjoyable for you both.

Check out to see if there is a local Men’s Shed. This is a wonderful opportunity for men to meet other retirees, learn new skills and engage in new hobbies. Try and observe your husband’s behavior from a place of compassion rather than judgement. If he never knew any other way, it may take a while to coax him to step off the proverbial treadmill and relax.

Nothing changes if nothing changes, you and you alone have the power to change your thoughts and in doing so, change your life.

Nothing changes if nothing changes, you and you alone have the power to change your thoughts and in doing so, change your life. Counselling may help you look more objectively at this situation and offer you the guidance and support you need as you continue your life’s journey.

I wish you both a happy and healthy retirement.

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