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Early retirement is not what it’s cracked up to be

Dear Abby: My husband lost his job more than a year ago because his plant closed. He was almost retirement age, so he took an early retirement. The problem is he isn't adjusting well to the change.

He has his hobbies, but he seems to have lost interest in them. He is angry a lot of the time and lost at other times. I understand it's a huge adjustment for him, but I'm concerned that it has been going on too long. I have tried to get him interested in things, but he doesn't take my suggestions well anymore. He thinks I want him out of my hair, but it's not true. I want him to be happy.

I know he's depressed but he denies it. When other people ask how he likes retirement, he says he loves it. I think he feels silly for not enjoying it. He doesn't want to spend money for counseling, even though he knows he can get the fee adjusted according to our income.

I'm at a loss about what to do to help him. He reads your column regularly, and I think he would take seriously any advice you could offer. – Concerned Wife in Michigan

Dear Concerned Wife: Retirement is not for everyone, and not everybody "loves it." That's why it's so important that before a person retires, he or she have a plan in place for staying mentally and physically active.

Your husband may have valuable skills he could pass on by mentoring others. He could volunteer in the community, delivering meals to shut-ins, coaching youngsters' sports, help out at the police department or a hospital. All he needs to do is go to his computer and type in "volunteer opportunities in Michigan" to find plenty of opportunities. He can donate as little or as much time as he wants. But first, he will have to admit that he ISN'T loving retirement and needs an outlet. Please make sure he sees this column.

Dear Abby: I'm 12, and for the last five months my family hasn't been getting along. We act like we love each other, but I'm not so sure. My mom and dad have been fighting. I saw something Mom left on our computer she had been looking at, and the title was "How to Let Go of Emotions During the Divorce Process." I don't know if my parents are getting a divorce or not, but it's slowly tearing my family apart, and I don't know what to do. What can I do to prevent it? – Confused Pre-Teen

Dear Confused: Tell your mother you saw the article she left on the computer, and ask her if she and your dad are separating. If the answer is yes, tell her you hope they're getting counseling.

It is important you understand that while they both love YOU, they have reached a point where their relationship may no longer be working. Much as you might like to, there is nothing you can "do" to head this off because their problem has only to do with them and not you.

Dear Abby: I was just wondering why when men drink and get drunk, they always talk about themselves. – Heather in New Hampshire

Dear Heather: They may do it because the alcohol allows them to loosen up and open up. Or, because they think the subject is fascinating, and you are a willing listener.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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