Husband is exhausted & wants to retire (I think)

downsouthMay 25, 2003

My DH has worked for the same company since 1968, 35 long years ago. He is 57 years old and is a produce mgr for a nationally known supermarket. He works every Saturday and Sunday, and he likes to work Sundays because it's about 1/2 of his entire paycheck, as he gets overtime. He only takes one day off during the week, on Thursdays. He feels like he has to work so much because his company cuts hours and he doesn't have enough help to get the job done. Being a manager, he is overwhelmed with responsibilities.

Last night he told me he didn't think he could make it until August. My company gave me a chance to work at home and I work part time. DH suffers from depression and on top of this, he is the most dedicated employer a company would ever want. He feels guilty if he leaves and everything isn't done. Today he is working 12 hours and tomorrow it's inventory time, so he'll be working 12 hrs again (when everybody else is off for Memorial Day). I have to beg him to take his vacation, and he gets 5 weeks.

We are getting ready to put our house up for sale and take all the equity we have and pay cash for our next home which will be smaller. He needs dental implants which is going to cost $15,000, which is money we don't have. Hopefully, when we sell the house we will get enough money to pay cash for his implants as well.

I told him what he should do is give up the stressful manager position and just become a regular worker. As a regular worker, there won't be all this stress and he can leave at the end of the day and not worry about making schedules, inventory, price changes, etc. All of this burden would be off his shoulders. He could also reduce his hours to 32 hours a week which would be enough hrs to keep him as a full time employer, and we would still have insurance benefits. If he only works 32 hrs a week, he would bring home around $350 a week, but that would be enough with my job for us to make it until he can retire permanently, at age 62, which is only 5 yrs away. He still says he doesn't know how much longer he can hang in there. Right now he is working 48 hrs a week. He doesn't do much of anything around the house because he is so tired. Sometimes I get real aggravated because of this, but I try not to mention it because he is on anti-depressants and he is such a hard worker.

I told him another thing he could consider was going ahead and retiring after we sell the house, and working somewhere else maybe 3 days a week. If he does this, I don't know what we would do for health insurance.

Our biggest major problem if he does retire early is what would we do about health insurance? Even if he works part time somewhere else, there still would be no insurance benefits. He will get a pension from his work if he takes early retirement, but the longer he works, the more the pension will be. If he retires right now, it would probably be about $800 a month.

Does anyone have any suggestions in our case? Sorry this is so long.

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Well, my heart aches for you - these are some tough decisions. Our husbands are exactly the same age so I understand that our men do not have the same stamina that they did when they were younger. It seems that your husband's stress level is high and quite frankly, I'd worry about his health, blood pressure, weight, exercise, diet, etc. I think that down-sizing to a smaller house, watching your pennies and saving as much as possible is a good idea. I'm wondering whether reducing your husband's work load will actually make him less stressed - or is being stressed/depressed just part of his personality? If he reduces his work hours, will he take that extra time and use it to relax or is his personality not going to allow him to do that (regardless of the number of hours he works). If you have less income, will that cause him just as much stress? The health insurance issue is worrisome for sure - it just doesn't seem right that anyone as hard working as you two should have to pay that much money for health insurance. I wish I had the perfect solution for your problems. I think the most impportant thing here is your husband's health. I hope he is getting help for his depression. Good luck to you - please let us know what you decide and how it works out.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2003 at 9:41AM
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Cattknap, DH definitely doesn't eat properly, most of the time at work he grabs a bag of chips & a coke. He gets one good meal a day when he gets home from work. He is on meds & I have to make sure he takes them in the evening. I am beginning to wonder if he is not even taking them in the morning, so I guess I'll count them & see if he is. He is very indecisve. One week he wants to sell the house, the next week he is staying here. I believe we will sell, as I know when his depression is "talking". I am very concerned about his health, his mental health. He gets plenty of exercise, as he walks constantly at his job.

My son and DIL told me today not to expect him to "just" work 32 hours a week, because they don't see him doing that. He says he hates his job, yet he gives it his all. I told him to just come home after 8 hrs and if he didn't get it done, it will be there tomorrow. He doesn't think that way. He sees it as he has to work twice as hard the next day and he gets behind.

I am going to talk to him soon when he is rested and see if we can't make some concrete decisions. Making decisions is very difficult for him & always has been, esp. if it's going to change his lifestyle but once we do it, he seems to be okay. It took us 6 years to decide to sell our last house. I am going to pay close attention to his actions and things he says to try and get a better grip on his feelings.
It looks like this time I may need to give him an 'extra' push as there is no way he can retire early or reduce his hours if we stay here. I do all of the upkeep on this house, inside and outside, and it's about to kill me. I finally had to hire a painter last week and my son is helping me cut the grass. It's not that he's not "motivated" to do anything; he loves to have a garden and that is the only thing he seems to really love to do, other than working of course, LOL! (which he says he hates??)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2003 at 1:26PM
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I hope your husband knows how lucky he is to have you as his wife! Yes, we all have to give our men a little (sometimes big) push. It sounds like you know him very well - I'm the same way with mine. I'm 52, he's 57 and I think we've been married forever. I can't imagine having to work and take care of the house inside and out! You must be exhausted. I don't mean to be nosy, but does your husband realize this? We women tend to be too self-sacrificing sometimes - to our detriment.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2003 at 2:30PM
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I don't think he realizes everything I do, or maybe I've just taken control for so long, he expects all this of me? I told him last night that I would no longer be cutting the grass anymore, because I just can't do all this any longer (we have 2.5 acres and it's all grass). I don't cut it all the time; he does help cut the grass but I was doing it the majority of the time up until last year. I am 53 & DH is 57, so we're about the same ages as you and your spouse.

Things tend to bother me a lot more than they bother him. I don't want things to be perfect - just clean. For instance, the driveway/sidewalk have never been pressure washed since we moved to this house 7 yrs ago. Maybe I don't know men, but wouldn't most men get the pressure washer out, get some driveway cleaner & take care of this? He says I can sit down and relax any time I want to, but he can never relax at work so I guess he has a point. I did ask him last night to change a burned out recessed light in the kitchen and I was shocked that he did that. We have two huge porches, a deck off the master b/r and another small porch off the den. I can't stand things to look natural (the graying/aging look, haha, like I'm going to be) so I have been priming and painting these porches all by myself. I finally realized I could never get all these railings painted, so a painter is coming this week to paint all those. DH did help me paint the great room this spring, b/c it has a 22 ft. high ceiling and he knew I could not do that by myself. Most of the time when I complain about him not helping me, he says "I have a full time job, you don't" or "I worked more than 3 hours today." I get angry but it doesn't do any good; it just upsets me.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 12:12AM
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I sympathize with you also. I don't know how you do it all.
After the death of our nineteen year old daughter due to a senseless accident (trying to save our dog), DH and I have realized even more now, how insignificant so many things really are. He had been offered superintendent of his company and turned it down (he would have grabbed it before now). We know now, that money and the responsibilities of a job just aren't worth any extra stress and worry. If I were in your shoes, I would definitely try to sell the house for something smaller and as much upkeep as possible, downsize financially in any way that you can, encourage him to just work part time if need be, and pay the extra money to get medical insurance elsewhere. That job is not worth his life which it sounds like he is giving it. It is not only affecting you, but also his health, both mental and physical. That is not fair to either of you.
I have always been one to believe that we can make do with what we have. The most important things to survive is food and shelter and I doubt that you will go without that.
Good luck to you both and keep us posted.
Visit the Christin Cosby Memorial Web Site:

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 11:15AM
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Lu, I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I guess as we all get older, we place our emphasis on more meaning things in our life; not on material things such as who has the nicest car, who has the biggest house. None of that stuff has ever meant anything to me. I grew up in KY, the daughter of a coalminer, and there were 9 children. My mother never worked (ha, outside of the house I mean) and we were the most loving family. My fondest memories are growing up with all my sisters and brothers. You are right in that we never did without; we had the necessities and there was plenty of love.

DH is taking vacation next week so he is cleaning out the basement. I am finishing painting the railings on the porches and we hired a painter to paint all our windows. He said to do a quick job so we can hurry & put a for sale sign out front & I'm excited we are now agreeing on what we need to do. We are going to try & find a home with a basement and if we can't find what we like and in the right area, we will buy some land and build. We found one home already that we wanted to go look at, but of course we haven't even put our house on the market yet so we can't jump the gun so to speak.

I am so sorry about your tragedy. It makes you look twice at what is important in life - like us spending more time with our grandchildren.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2003 at 5:54PM
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I hope that week of vacation was a good time for both of you.

I agree that downsizing would be a good move for you. Be careful if you buy land to build on, because that sounds like a lot of work and is sure to be a stressful time.

I'd just like to share two things I have learned since DH has retired a year and a half ago (at age 62.)
First, it took him at least a month before he could actually enjoy not going to work. Within 2 months, you could easily see the wonderful change in him. He became much more relaxed and "a part of the world around him." I think getting 8 hours of sleep each night has made a big difference. He had to learn to not think about the things at work. He keeps so busy now getting things done around the house and helping the kids with things that he often says, he doesn't know how he ever had time to "work!" I know it was all that other stuff that didn't get done.
Your DH suffers with depression, and my guess is that one of the things that would help him the most is REST, and that is the one thing that is the hardest thing for him to do!

Second, about health insurance. If you think it's going to be expensive, sorry, but think double that! Ours is $700 a month for both of us, and that is with a deductible that is high enough that we are paying for almost everything. We never imagined that it would be this bad. Check it out ahead of time, and when you do, ask them about how often it increases. Ours BCBS has increased every 6 months.

A sugestion for deciding about retirement or change of job, would be to make a list to the positives and the negatives of both ideas.

We have never regretted DH's retirment, and now he doesn't even want a part-time job. Things aren't as rosey as we thought they might be, but we have everything we need. We keep a running list of the things that need to be done, fixed, or made, and we both work on that list.

Hope you are able to work out a good plan.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2003 at 1:00PM
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Hayjud, if it's going to cost us $700 a month for health insurance, then we could never retire. He can keep insurance through his company when he retires, but we don't know how much that is going to cost us. If he would only get out of this manager's job, he could stay with the same company and work 32 hrs. a week, and still be full time. I think though he wants to quit this company completely and I can't blame him. He has worked there for 35 years. He works for Kroger grocery chain as a produce manager. Our son doesn't understand why a "produce manager" job is so demanding, but I try to tell him it's the lack of help that they give him that makes it so difficult. He should have never taken this manager job because of his depression and I have always regreted that he did. I think he even regrets it now. Kroger does all this great advertising about how they help people with the food drive at Xmas, etc., yet they have reduced their employees' insurance and have practically taken away the dental coverage. We only have $1,000 a year in dental coverage and that's it. He is real bitter toward Kroger, yet he kills himself to do a good job for them. I just can't understand the logic behind this and it really gets to me sometimes. I just tell myself that he is from the "old school" of the people that still care about doing a good job.

We had a wonderful vacation. I just can't believe the difference in his attitude and his behavior. We had to come back home so he could be back at work on Sunday. He won't miss a Sunday because it's all overtime. He left at 3:30 and got home at 4:30. He does this every Sunday and when he gets home, he sleeps all evening and it's just like he's not even here. I think he said 20 words to me all last night and some of the words were "are my clothes ready for in the morning?" This morning, Monday, he left at 4:30 but he never had to be at a meeting until 6:00 a.m. This meeting is at another store, so he went to his store so he could work an hour before he had to be at the meeting. This really burns me up inside that he does this, esp. when they won't give a dam about him when he retires (for that matter, they don't care now how much he kills himself to do the "perfect" job). If I say anything, he gets defensive.

As for the land, if we do buy land it is only going to be one acre and no more. That's one reason why we are selling this house. We had 3.5 acres and we gave one acre to our youngest son. We still have 2.5 acres and all of it is grass and has to be cut. Personally, I am hoping we find a house already built so we don't have to worry about where we're going to live while a house is being built and storing our furniture. We've already done that once when we built this house.

I really enjoyed being around my DH when he was so relaxed. He is like a different person. We worked really hard around the house for 3 days, then we took 2 days off. I look forward to more days like this, just being able to see him relax more. We don't like much more having it ready. We are having a garage sale this weekend. My future DIL and son are going to help me and what doesn't sell, goes to Salvation Army. Would it be terrible if I set a date when we will put this house on the market, so we can go ahead and get it sold?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2003 at 5:24AM
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So glad you had a wonderful relaxing time......I think Hayjud is correct - it will take your dh a few weeks or months to totally relax and forget about work after he retires - but think how wonderful it will be to have a "new" husband that isn't stressed and depressed. Good luck on selling the house - do let us know how you are doing.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2003 at 8:25PM
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Hi downsouth,

With your husband so reluctant to make decisions, I think that building a new home would be a really stressful time. But I gather that you did it before, so you may have learned what that is like, with him. Perhaps at a time that was less stressful than now.

Do you think that part of his concern with getting around all the issues related to the job may be to worry that if he doesn't keep everything going smoothly, that they'll replace him with someone who can?

You mention that he eats fast food and a Coke for lunch.

Some people get really hyper when taking on too much sugar.

Do you think that it would help his stress and depression if he cut down on his sugar intake, e.g. taking a sandwich, pickle, milk, etc. from home?

I like to engage in a little humour from time to time - as regulars here have learned. Some enjoy it, a few don't.

It seems to me that some gentle humour - not the kind that is aimed hurtfully at another or others - is one of the best stress reducers around.

Have you found that you can jolly one another by finding something humorous in a number of things that happen when you're together?

Does he have friendly, happy relations with the people that he works with?

Good wishes to you both,

joyful guy

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 3:10AM
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hi joyfulguy, in answer to your questions, we built this home in 1996 and really enjoyed the experience. I think the most stressful thing about building a home is finding a new place to live while your home is being built, as so many places don't want to do only a six months lease or even less than that. Moving all the furniture to storage & then having to move it all again - that is stressful.

As far as his job, he doesn't worry about being replaced. He could just go to the union with any issue. When he got his 35th anniversary present from his company, he chose from a brochure of different gifts (most of the gifts were crap!), but he chose a set of luggage. When his mgr presented the gift to him in front of other employees, he asked my DH "what does this mean?" (jokingly), and my DH said "it looks like I'm getting ready to haul ass." I guess that says it all how much he is ready to get out of there.

We do find humour in things we do together and I try to be a little more "light" with him. Lately we have been so busy with this stupid house we haven't had time to breathe!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 10:56PM
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Hi downsouth - and hubby,

I do hope that you can find time to take a breath - now and again.

I find that some humour is a great stress-reliever - one of the best, I think.

Good wishes to you both,

ole joyful

    Bookmark   June 19, 2003 at 11:08PM
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