According to the Social Readjustment Scale, retirement is in the top 10 most stressful life events. For some, like me, retirement is difficult and the adjustment takes years. For others, such as my wife, the transition is smooth. I’ve written about my challenges in The 6 Stages of Retirement. In this post, I focus on why my wife’s experience was so different.
So here are 6 reasons why adjusting to retirement was easy for my wife.
- Retirement was a long-standing goal. My wife always viewed work as a means to an end. While CeCe was well suited for her work (finance, accounting and consulting), she wasn’t passionate about it. She always wanted to move on as soon as it was feasible.
- She knew what she wanted to do. CeCe’s true passion is expressing her creativity through quilting, embroidering, cross stitching and design. She was never concerned with “what am I going to do with all that time”. Rather it was “look at what I can do with all that time”.
- Her identity and purpose was not tied to work.Looking back, it took me time to not see her as a controller, or CFO, or accountant. I was guilty of projecting my proclivity to identify with work onto her. It took me time to understand and to accept who she had always been – an artist.
- CeCe has excellent social and interpersonal skills.I marvel at how good my wife is when it comes to finding, developing and maintaining relationships. She excels at recalling the details of people’s lives. She is genuinely interested in her friends.
- We retired together. We were able to keep the same roles and responsibilities around the house that we always had. We could travel to visit family and friends (which is very important to her) without having to consider a work schedule. We were able to plan and discuss her projects without work interfering.
- She retired early. Retiring young and in good health enabled her to enjoy being active. This includes hiking, walking, biking and gardening whenever she wants to.
Now eight years into retirement, my wife is as happy and busy as she was in year one. She has grown as an artist and has a vibrant group of friends. She’s even agreed to volunteer at an event which is a first! I am grateful to her for the example she sets and for helping me work through my retirement challenges.