Peggy Barnhardt: Retirement: Who would have thunk it
Retirement: A blessed state by God; a resting from creative works; a time to reflect on accomplishments past and present; and for us incomers, a reconstitution of our worn-down resistance from the constancy of the daily grind.
In theory, most would agree with this loose definition, but in reality there seems to be a dichotomy between the sexes — two avenues of thought that rarely intersect.
Men, for instance, see their wife’s retirement as an opportunity to wrangle more services from her. Now the wife can cook more, clean more, see to his needs — emotional, physical and sexual.
If the husband retires first, then he is chomping at the bit waiting for her arrival from her multi-faceted routine so she can, cook, clean and see to any needs he has accumulated or contrived while she was gone.
If they retire at the same time, another glitch is encountered. He is underfoot, messing up the house that used to remain clean throughout the day in his absence. He is now eagerly logging meal times for her that used to be cared for by restaurateurs and lunchroom jockeys at work.
Things he used to do for himself — the admirable trait of independence — has gone the way of chivalry, buried under the sea of un-ironed shirts that were destined for the cleaners, now dubbed a you-can-do-it-since-you-are-home chore.
Where is the free time promised in retirement, romanticized in the media? The long leisurely baths without interruption by kids knocking on the door, passing dad on the way, letting Calgon take you away, or lazily reclining on the beach watching the sun set behind cottony clouds. Where is the time for classes you have been wanting to take to enhance your mind and appearance purely for self gratification?
The private, carefree time so anticipated evaporates before your eyes into an intangible, irretrievable mist.
We have been conditioned too long for retirement with baited breath. We wistfully visualize a time when we might have our soul mates to ourselves like we started with. It’s a living fantasy with strings attached.
I am sure there are some compatible thoughts on these matters as we have lived, loved and laughed for these many years and will continue. We have celebrated our differences.
However, as John Gray’s book reminds us: “Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus.” It’s laughable.
Think about it.
Peggy Ann Barnhardt lives in Salisbury.
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