I knew it, but that doesn’t mean I’m pleased.
( Long… and unusual for me… personal rant to follow. )
As I’ve said many times, my husband is not happy in retirement. He doesn’t relax well or easily and has spent most of his 75 years in motion. One of nine children, he grew up poor on a dairy farm… and if that wasn’t enough work? He had his first job at age 12. Child labor laws… pfft! Not in those days.
22 years in the Marine Corps, 10 years with defense contractors and the last 22 with the Federal Government makes for a well earned and comfortable retirement. Everything we own is paid for, we have a nice nest egg and though we don’t live extravagantly…. we basically want for nothing.
The husband was supposed to retire in 2020 but then Covid struck and his entire office started working from home. No hour long commute, full pay and benefits to sit in your bathrobe and take two hour lunches? Sure, why not.
But by the end of 2021 he was tired of the constant politicking, the redundant paperwork, the travel ban, and a new computer system that defied human understanding. He hemmed and hawed, kept asking me what he should do and thought maybe it was time to pull the plug. I knew it would be hard for him but refused to be part of the decision. Leaving the Corps was a big adjustment, but not working at all would be worse. He had to want to retire or it wouldn’t work. I would support him either way.
So after a long deliberation, he retired December 31rst of 2021 and I have to admit, I was pleased. It was time to enjoy life. For an entire year he did what he wanted when he wanted. Unlimited time for yard work and projects, weekly breakfasts with his friends, a standing Sunday pool tournament in the man cave, impromptu trips here and there with no schedule, pressure or deadlines. I knew he missed his co workers and clients but truly thought he’d settled in to a new routine.
I was wrong.
Unbeknownst to me, he’d been in contact with his old boss since the beginning of 2023 and had floated the idea of going back to work. The office is understaffed and overworked so the boss was thrilled. I was not.
When the husband finally told me he was thinking of submitting a package for reinstatement we had a long discussion. And then an argument. I listed all the reasons I was unhappy and they were numerous. I won’t go into all the details but his health was #1 on my list. Though he doesn’t like to admit it, he’s not 20 anymore. Or even 60 for Christ’s sake. He had triple by pass 6 years ago, is pre diabetic, and takes a fistful of medicine. I worry.
And to be perfectly honest? The whole idea of him going back to work hurts my feelings. After all the years of my standing beside him, supporting every decision, allowing his career to take priority, moving when I didn’t want to, canceling vacations, taking care of his family because he wasn’t around…. this was supposed to be OUR time.
So I told him how I felt. I argued, I cried. He listened, and felt badly. But ya know what? He submitted the reinstatement package anyway. And when he did that? We really had it out.. because while I’m trying to understand his reasons? It’s pretty obvious where I stand in his priorities now and that hurts.
Do I doubt his love and commitment to me? No. Never. But apparently he needs work more than I realized. This became glaringly obvious when I overheard a conversation he had with a friend about returning to work. While my husband was having a hard time putting his feelings into words with me? To his friend he said ever since he retired he felt empty. Without purpose. Unfulfilled. Like he’s too old contribute and was being put out to pasture. It’s beyond sad. But it’s part of who he is, and feeling unproductive bothers him. I was hoping a leisurely life together would be enough at this point in his life, but clearly it’s not.
As I write he’s waiting for the official paperwork from the government. His package was approved by his boss, then the New England regional office and finally headquarters… but we’re talking about the government here so things move at a glacial pace. He’s said that if they don’t bring him back at the same grade, pay, vacation and benefits he won’t accept…. so I’m wondering if he’s having second thoughts.
I hope so.
I really do.