1. Home
  2. Careers
  3. news
  4. My husband is turning 68 and terrified of retiring. I'm ready for a more flexible lifestyle.

My husband is turning 68 and terrified of retiring. I'm ready for a more flexible lifestyle.

Marcia Kester Doyle   

My husband is turning 68 and terrified of retiring. I'm ready for a more flexible lifestyle.
  • My husband and I have been married for 40 years and had four kids.
  • He's so hard working, and at one point he had three jobs to make ends meet.

Like many boomers, my husband and I have counted the days until retirement. Now that the time is quickly approaching, my husband is suddenly ambivalent about his future.

Since starting his first job when he was only 14, he was socially programmed during the 1970s to embrace the role of a financial provider.

We've been married for 40 years, and I've never known a man with a stronger work ethic than my husband. At times, he worked three jobs simultaneously to make ends meet while we raised four children in a tiny, two-bedroom home.

He's terrified of retiring

Three years ago, when he was eligible for retirement, I was excited at the prospect of checking off our bucket list: buying an RV to travel around the US. But several months before he was to retire, we were hit with unexpected medical bills and major home repairs that drained our savings. My husband insisted on working one more year to get caught up on the bills. I reluctantly agreed, doubling my remote job hours to help pull us out of debt faster.

In July, my husband turns 68 and is still uncertain about leaving his ground maintenance job at an upscale condo. While most boomers are thrilled to leave the rat race and rack up their flying miles, my husband is terrified of leaving his beloved job.

Physical work outdoors is second nature to him, and he worries that he'll become bored, lazy, and overweight without it.

Although he's convinced that his mind and body will deteriorate without his job, I see how the physical labor is taking a toll on him. He lives with chronic back pain and joints that stiffen to the point that he has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

I tell him it's time to quit, but he's not ready despite having a healthy retirement pension. He has a special connection with his tenants, and the respect they give him fulfills his sense of purpose. For these reasons, he's having trouble understanding what he's physically capable of doing. I also believe it goes deeper than that; he fears losing his identity as the breadwinner in the family.

I'm ready for a more flexible lifestyle

Deprogramming someone conditioned to work full-time was more difficult than I'd anticipated. But recently, I convinced my husband to cut back his hours in exchange for taking the leap and purchasing a small RV. Buying into our bucket list dream is the best decision we could've made for our future and gives us so much to look forward to. We're already taking short trips around the state, and I can see him warming up to the idea of having flexible hours to travel anywhere, anytime.

Even more surprising, my husband bought a yellow tandem bike for us to exercise together. It was tricky initially, but we wobble less now and feel re-energized after taking a few spins around the neighborhood.

After spotting a pickleball match at the park during one of our rides, my husband said he'd like to learn the game. I pointed out that most players were his age (or older) and likely retired — but staying active and engaged in the community.

He's starting to see the opportunities

I'm finally making progress in convincing him to retire. He sees all the fun opportunities to stay fit, travel, and meet new friends —whether on a pickleball court or an RV campsite.

For him, the key is staying busy during retirement and learning to embrace his freedom. He also realizes the importance of maximizing his energy by doing what matters most, simply because we don't know how much time we have left together.

Recently, while riding the tandem bike, my husband said, "We're really getting the hang of this," and I couldn't agree more. With an endless bucket list of possibilities in retirement, we're riding in sync through life, one pedal at a time.

Marcia Kester Doyle is a Yahoo Life Columnist and the author of "Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane." You can find her at

Popular Right Now