A happy retirement = separate interests + common core.
Once a year, every year in living memory (ergo the 30+ [years]), my wife spends a weekend away with her sisters. It’s like that Alan Alda, Ellen Burstyn film Same Time, Next Year but without the love interest – presumably. Don’t go there. I’m writing about it because this is that weekend.
I used to resent it, not because I was unreconstructed, although I probably was, but because I used to have to look after our two children. And when mummy, precious mummy, returned the questions I dreaded would begin. Have you had a nice time? No! What did you do with daddy? Nuffink. You must have done something. Just watched TV. Not all day surely? Yep. Well, did you have nice things to eat? (oh, come on, you know the answer to this, this is just gratuitous). No, they chirp, bonded in a way not seen since last year, we haven’t eaten for two days. Daddy said make yourself some toast if you’re hungry.
Done me up like a kipper as I believe the vernacular has it. FUBs I think fondly, like our soldiers reportedly did of the liberated Falkland islanders. Did I spend the weekend in the pub? No! Did I lose either of them? No! Well not for very long at any rate. How did I know they’d gone round to the neighbours begging for food?
As they got older (4 or 5 – I’m joking for heaven’s sake) the terrible weight of this responsibility lifted. They came to have even lower expectations, if that were possible, and I began to enjoy my time alone. Which brings me somewhat tortuously to the theme of this week’s blog – as you will remember – one secret of a happy retirement = spending time apart.
We’ve all heard about the ‘man retires’ stereotype. Ooh, he’s at home all day, always under my feet, can’t get a thing done. Shoo, get out, I says, go and dig your allotment. What do you mean you haven’t got an allotment? Well get one. I don’t care how long the waiting list is. Go and sit outside the council offices until they give you one, but don’t sit here. Quick before I sweep you under the carpet. And so on. Stereotyping can be fun, can’t it?
So the message for a happy retirement is – have separate interests. I always felt, and my wife agrees, the key to a happy marriage is to have a common core of values, even interests but also to have some distinctly different ones. Like a Venn diagram for those of you with a visual bent. Why would retirement be any different? Some things will change in order to achieve a happy retirement but some aspects remain true. This, I think, is one such aspect.
For example, my wife has her yoga classes and I have my guitars; my wife has her art (including stained glass this next term) and I have my guitars; my wife has her cottage industries and I’ve got, err, my guitars. Seriously, I do have other interests and I shall write about them in the future to prove it. And we do play golf together now, so, come together, move apart, come together. Job done!