Dear Career Doctor:
My husband will be retiring in a few years. He’s a lawyer and is looking forward to a no-stress life after retirement. I’m worried that no stress will mean boredom after a year or so. He likes computers and some sports, but I’m afraid he won’t have enough to do and we’ll have problems being together all the time. I love him dearly, but I’m used to having the house to myself on weekdays. What do successful retired people (mostly men, I guess) do to keep retirement fun and interesting?
You are absolutely right to be worried. People who retire without a plan to stay active and involved often just mope around the house and get depressed. However, I know plenty of people who have used retirement to learn new skills or use their old skills in a different, satisfying way. For example, a friend of mine who was a high-powered international lawyer took some courses and retrained in poverty law. He now finds deep satisfaction working two days a week in the Bronx at a settlement house.
You can express your concerns to your husband, but it sounds like he believes that doing nothing will be lovely for him — and you. So your best chance is to lead by example: find yourself a new skill or interest that will get you out of the house several days a week and give new zest to your life. (After all, having the house to yourself every weekday doesn’t sound like a barrel of fun either.)
Tell him you are preparing for retirement (you don’t have to tell him that it is HIS retirement you’re preparing for!) When he sees you get a new lease on life, he will probably want one too.