While we frequently look forward to our retirement as the time we’ll be able to travel and do the things that have always held our interest, men can hold an entirely different view. Rather than looking at it as a reward for work well done, they sometimes see it as a punishment for having grown old, having grown weak. Retirement can make a man feel emasculated.
Men, from the time they are boys, are wrapped up in what they can accomplish. They are famously linear in their thinking. When you talk about your problems, they attempt to solve them. Men tend to function in verbs, usually “to make” or “to do”. So when they are told that they can no longer make or do, they feel unwanted, unnecessary. It is reasonable to expect that they may feel a bit depressed or even angry when they finally retire, even if they had been looking forward to it. Be gentle with him but do not coddle.
If you can, plan ahead of time. Without attempting to control his life, introduce things that he may be interested in. Hobbies are good for keeping busy but men need a purpose – encourage him to mentor, teach, or volunteer with his free time. Re-direct his energy into useful pursuits. He has years of experience that can benefit others. Re-assure him of his usefulness but again, don’t coddle him.
You may find that you’re arguing more. You may feel that he’s constantly underfoot. You may feel as though your domain has been invaded. You may feel as though he’s being overly critical. Before bickering, take a deep breath and ask yourself why this is happening and what can be done to improve the situation. Don’t rule out counseling because you think you know each other so well – often a third party can offer a neutral viewpoint or a workable compromise.