The Career Doctor™


Dear Career Doctor:

My husband is a recently retired lawyer. He always said he was looking forward to retiring because there were lots of things he wanted to do. He is very intelligent and was very successful, but all he seems to do is sit around and watch television. This drives me crazy! I think he needs to do some volunteer work or take up a useful hobby, but when I say this he says I am nagging or criticizing him. Any suggestions?

Hating His Retirement

Dear HHR:

Perhaps your husband is just savoring his new freedom to be lazy. On the other hand, his becoming a couch potato may be a symptom of depression. Many hard-working people look forward to retirement, but feel depressed when it happens. Some can't cope well without the structure of having to be somewhere at a certain time. Others mourn the loss of the status and purpose that came with a job.

Most people need to feel they have a purpose in life and that they are making a contribution. No one gets that feeling if his or her main activity is watching TV. There are so many ways your husband could use his talents, but you are in a difficult position if your helpful suggestions are met with anger.

Perhaps he would be more receptive if you suggested doing something together: learn a sport together, take some courses, or get involved in a volunteer project as a team. Or maybe you can suggest that some of his friends who have happily retired invite him for lunch and talk to him about his future.

If these suggestions don't work, several sessions with a marriage counselor might be helpful to work out some agreements on how retirement will work for both of you. If he refuses to go along with all of this, do not feel that you have to stay home while he sits around watching TV. Take your own advice and develop new, rewarding activities that get you out of the house. Your husband might learn from your example. Even if he doesn't, at least you'll be happier doing more interesting things than watching your husband watch TV.

The Career Doctor


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