Advice columnist

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My husband is hard-working and also a caring and loving husband. Our relationship is absolutely wonderful. However, there is something I fear may soon destroy all this happiness. He is going to retire in a couple of years, several years before me. He is very much looking forward to fun activities such as traveling, skiing, hiking, hobbies and things of this nature. He deserves all that, as he has been working long hours for many years.

However, I am afraid I will quickly become resentful of having to go to the office every day while he enjoys a never-ending vacation. I know I should not think this way, and I am sure a lot of women married to older husbands somehow find ways to accept this kind of arrangement, but what if I can't? My job is fairly boring but pays well, so I will have to stick with it, especially when he retires and is no longer covered by insurance. I have considered changing my field of work to find something more enjoyable, but anything I would like will bring much less money, fewer benefits, and also it would require retraining. How do I handle all this?

— Have to Stick With It

Have to Stick With It: I don’t think there’s any magic answer, or any answer really besides the two of you talking about it.

The answers you can come to from here aren’t necessarily great; what is he supposed to do, stay home and do nothing so you’re both bored? Structure his will so he can finance your retirement in return? Then what — you can go off skiing during your post-work years without anyone else’s feelings to consider?


(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

But getting the feelings out there will give you both a chance to anticipate them in your planning. Maybe choose a job with an eye to health benefits and flexibility vs. size of the paycheck. Maybe he can take on more household responsibilities so that his retirement benefits you both. Maybe his free time will allow him to plan more elaborately and include you in many of his activities. Maybe talking about it now will make him mindful of your feelings when the time comes so that he doesn’t unwittingly rub his freedom in your face.

Or, maybe just hearing yourself say them out loud will help you see that your feelings aren’t worth acting on beyond getting them off your chest. He will have his time and you will have yours, health permitting for both, and the happiest way to handle that is to treat it as a foreseeable misalignment vs. any kind of injustice.

Re: Retirement: My father retired several years before my mother. He took advantage of the time by indulging his love of cooking, and he made my mom a lovely meal every night. Also, dad drove her to the Metro station every morning and picked up every evening. She felt a little pampered.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Lovely, thanks.

Re: Retirement: My dad was planning to retire, my mom was fretting about it and then my dad suddenly died. Be grateful he is there and has a plan for his time that will make him happy. The alternatives are much worse.

— Not to Be a Total Downer

Not to Be a Total Downer: Needed to be said, thank you.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.