Retirement Lifestyle:Working as a team

Horse Team Collecting Maple Sap in March 1975

Image by foroyar22 via Flickr

I’ve created a monster!

For a long time around the Carlson household, I had it easy. My wife was busy with her projects leaving me to fuss and bluster about doing my own things and getting wild and crazy in our retirement. Truth was, I had my head stuck in my own projects and wasn’t making much headway.

Well last month my wife got focused. “We are in a rut!” she tells me. “I need some excitement.”

Since then, we’ve been skydiving, horseback riding and Friday we are making another day trip to San Francisco. In the past, I’ve used my wife an an excuse for not doing more. I told myself it was difficult to get her moving.  Maybe that was justified then but no longer. If there is any anchor around here, it’s me.

It’s no longer all about me. 

I’m always the smug one that tries to look superior whatever the discussion. But I am seldom the leader of the pack pushing the envelope and making it happen. I don’t like to be called out as a poser but that is exactly what my wife is doing (in a nice way of course). I like to think I’m spontaneous and quick to act. The truth is that I want lots of information before I can get myself moving. It make me uncomfortable to be pushed which is probably why I dither rather than taking action.

 Life is fast and furious.

So lately with my wife’s pressure, we’ve been doing rather than thinking.  Truthfully acting quickly doesn’t seem to cause any problems and it definitely saves time.  What has happened recently to us is that we are now working as a team. My wife is pushing me to overcome my weaknesses as I do the same for her. Short term, it’s darn annoying. Long term, we are going to do more and enjoy the journey. I hate being pushed but, like a mule, I do move when you get my attention.

Bottom line, my wife and I operating as a team will make our retirement better and richer than either of us following our own track separately. Those faults that I recognize in myself but can’t change get her attention and we are all better for it.

It’s all a process.

We are still coming to grips with working as a team. Neither of us has been much of a team player up to now, but we are leaning. It’s not always easy but the benefits are undeniable. Managing a retirement lifestyle can be a challenge whether you are single or a couple. Singles may lack motivation without a partner to urge them on and couples may reinforce inertia rather than change. If you are married, how do you see the teamwork. Are you a natural team or is it still a struggle to work together?

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • hansi August 11, 2011, 4:37 am

    I got to say that I’m not very much into team sports, and the same goes for retirement. I do my thing (which is inferior, nasty and a waste of time) and the wife does hers (far more superior, moral and uplifting). Seems to work. I’m getting tired of being the driving force in the relationship. Seems like if anything happens, it’s because I make it happen. The wife’s job is to sit back and evaluate the job, and give appropriate corrective feed-back.
    hansi’s last Blog Post ..COITUS

    • Ralph August 11, 2011, 10:11 am

      Hansi,
      Maybe you need to discover something that gets your wife excited. Believe me it really changes things.

  • Bill Murney August 11, 2011, 8:31 am

    Similar to Hansi, I make the decisions when it comes to activities, if it goes goes wrong then it’s my wife’s job to bollock me (or as Hansi puts it – “appropriate corrective feedback” – nicely put Hansi) which she does with relish.

    Without sounding chauvinist, I think most guys take the lead in matters of adventerous activity.

    Bill
    Bill Murney’s last Blog Post ..A Postcard From Madeira – 2

  • Ralph August 11, 2011, 10:15 am

    Bill,
    I don’t mean to stop leading. It’s like good management facilitates the staff to manage their own affairs for the course you set. When your wife gets excited the process goes smoother and you reach your goals faster and if she wants to take the lead sometimes- whats the harm?

  • Anita Jesse August 11, 2011, 1:12 pm

    Does a female dare raise her hand in this lively discussion? I admit that I haven’t much to contribute other than this: I love this post. It has set me thinking about my relationship both with my husband and my reluctant embrace of retirement. It is comforting to know that others find a need to exert some effort in finding a balance when it comes to who is the leader.

    P.S. I have to confess that the photo of the horses won my heart even before I started reading.

    • Ralph August 11, 2011, 3:55 pm

      Anita,
      Absolutely raise your hand and contribute away. I’m happy to have my wife and I on the same page. We’ve sort of worked out leadership roles over the past 39 years (whoops I just rmembered our anniversary is next week) but it is great when my wife can keep me focused and moving on where I’m supposed to be the lead and I’m open to thinks that she wants and I may be indifferent. It has been a valuable relationship and we have both paid a price to keep it going. Now we both want our teamwork to bear fruit. What’s your story?

  • Bob Lowry August 15, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year, Ralph. This post may mark a watershed for you. In the past you have written how you and your wife are often at cross purposes in various areas of your life. I seem to remember one post where you said she doesn’t like to leave the house so you were going to start going solo.

    Working as a team is so much more beneficial, and fun. For some things you will be the puller, and others she will push you out the door. As long as both of you bend enough to allow the other to be satisfied, I predict a new season in the Carlson household.

    Sky diving…really? No thanks.
    Bob Lowry’s last Blog Post ..What happened to Second Helpings?

    • Ralph August 15, 2011, 2:32 pm

      Bob,
      You are so right. Part of the problem was me. I’m a closet control freak and I don’t like letting anybody else set the course. This new way of operating stresses me out at times but the benefits are too obvious to deny. As I continually say, you really can change. And that means me too.

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