This I Believe

Marilyn - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on June 8, 2007

I Believe In Expecting the Unexpected

Many women get sick, physically sick, when their husbands retire. It’s called RHS and it stands for Retired Husband Syndrome. It’s medical term in Japan. I know all about the mind-body connection as six years ago, I became seriously depressed while taking care of my father-in-law. I lost 25 pounds; it was a tough way to lose weight and I wouldn’t recommend it. So you can imagine my despair and panic on the day my husband retired a little over a year ago. He wasn’t in such good shape either.

This is America and here we know that we can “overcome” our difficulties. I put my father-in-law in a retirement home to solve my depression problem but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to do this with my husband.

So I made a plan. I sat down with my husband (I wish he were more philosophical and more of a leader but he isn’t; I had to begin the discussion about our impending doom) and told him we had to try very hard to make the other person happy. We had to go the extra mile to please each other. Quite simply, we had to be very kind. This, I told him, meant some sort of interaction between us.

I put signs around the house for encouragement. Most of the signs were positive but one sign said, This isn’t Iraq. Get over it. I meditated. I prayed. I exercised.

Well, so much for The Secret and its idea you get what you think you’re going to get. My husband’s retirement has been more like Stumbling Into Happiness. Everyday I look around and wonder when it is going to end.

This retirement is like the honeymoon without the sex and it just gets better.

My husband is no longer sleep deprived. He is never irritable. And since he doesn’t go to work, he talks to me. He hasn’t talked, really talked, to me for years. Nor I to him. Often he says something to make me think. A few times, I’ve found myself laughing with him. Occasionally, I realize why I married him.

He has taken over some household chores. My aim for my next life is to always have an administrate assistant. Who knew he could make a bed better than I? Who knew he could put the dishes in the dishwasher? Who knew he could go to the grocery store alone? I didn’t even know he knew where the grocery store was.

The dogs changed owners. They are now, much to my surprise, his dogs. And why not? He feeds and walks them. One dog has a health problem and can’t eat. It’s so strange to see my husband cooking for this dog late at night and then feeding her by hand. Tears come to my eyes when I think of his kindness. Who is this man and where has he been the last forty years?

My marriage began when my husband retired.