Fear of retirement boredom is a serious problem for many men. In fact, a number of them will delay retirement for fear of boredom.
Furthermore, a large number of retirees claim they are bored out of their minds after only 6 months to a year after retiring.
At a time in their lives when they are free to spend their leisure time in pursuits of their choosing, many men feel frustrated and occasionally depressed.
They are depressed with their inability to break out of their retirement rut.
Many describe themselves as “bored to death”.
Sadly, when men describe their suffering this way, they are on to something. Chronic retirement boredom can lead to long-term depression and disinclination to live.
Men fear retirement boredom more than women.
It’s not that women don’t get bored. They do. But, men and women are wired differently. Women have a different approach to life and retirement.
Everyone, experiences boredom – times when we’re left without anything in particular to do.
At best, boredom makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s an unpleasant experience. At worst, we may feel frustrated, anxious, or even angry.
It occurs when we are unable to focus our attention on an activity that would engage and satisfy us.
The fundamental difference in how men and women handle the fear of retirement boredom lies in the male psyche.
Compared to women, men more strongly relate to their careers and financial success.
Jobs and the male psyche.
For wives to fully appreciate what their husbands are going through, it’s necessary to understand why men fear retirement boredom.
Jobs play a huge part in the male psyche.
Jobs and careers are very much a part of a man’s self-identity. So much so and to such a degree that many men have difficulty exploring a new identity outside of the workforce.
Leaving the structured routine of a job leaves many men feeling lost.
A common complaint is a lack of purpose – much like they have no compass to guide them. They no longer feel like they are making a meaningful contribution to society.
Some men let their egos get in the way of their newfound freedom. They no longer have the label of President, CEO, Manager, Foreman, and so forth.
Frustration sets in because they believe they’ve lost a certain amount of social or financial status.
In addition, change can be challenging for men, especially as they get older. They are afraid to lose the familiar connections they’ve had for years.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for men to discover that their vision of retirement is contrary to their wives.
All of these factors leave men feeling alone, dejected, and bored.
Retirement boredom can lead to an early death.
The negative effects of retirement boredom can be serious.
Retired men often complain of waking up in the morning dreading another day of retirement boredom.
This may be a cry for help. If not corrected, it can result in unpleasant side effects such as anxiety and lethargy.
Retirement boredom can also lead to destructive behaviors such as alcohol abuse.
In the most serious cases, bored retirees may become severely depressed and may even turn to suicide.
The problem with long stretches of retirement boredom is that it is bad for your husband’s health.
A wife’s role in helping her husband overcome the fear of retirement boredom.
Statistically, married men live longer, healthier lives. And although you may have little sympathy for your husband’s inability to occupy himself, you’re very influential in his longevity.
With that said, it’s understood, that wives can influence and help their husbands overcome retirement boredom and rediscover a passion for life.
But first, it’s important to realize that boredom occurs when there’s substantial arousal or energy in one’s environment.
The bored individual wants to engage themselves in satisfying activity but is unable to focus their attention to do so.
This is what psychologists John D. Eastwood, Alexandra Frischen, Mark J. Fenske, and Daniel Smilek describe as the Unengaged Mind.
That’s why offering suggestions like, “you should volunteer, exercise, or take up a hobby” doesn’t work.
Effective ways to help your husband overcome the fear of retirement boredom.
The most effective way to help your husband overcome the fear of retirement boredom is to listen. Lend an ear, and listen to his concerns.
- Give him support if he is afraid to retire. Offer encouragement. There’s more to life than material wealth.
- Understand if he gets bored shortly after retirement. Transitioning from many years in the workforce to a completely different routine can be challenging.
- Be patient. It may take him a little while before he gets comfortable in his new role as a retiree.
Encourage him to analyze his strengths and weaknesses. He may discover an area of strength that could be put to good use – a productive activity that results in great satisfaction.
Ask him to reflect on his life. One way to do this is to take a trip down memory lane. This exercise helps one rediscover their true selves.
Focusing on what brings joy and happiness restores self-identity and purpose in life. This, in turn, leads to deliberate choices that bring rewards and satisfaction.
Inspire your husband to look deeper into his spiritual side. The result will be a better understanding that there is more to life than status symbols and earning more than the next guy.
Suggestions for moving forward:
- encourage him to step out of his comfort zone
- suggest he record his memoirs
- motivate him to take steps to fulfill a lifelong dream
- challenge him to get in better shape
- recommend he get a part-time job simply for fun, not money
The fear of retirement boredom can be a serious problem for many men. And some men delay retirement, not because of money concerns, but because they are afraid of how they will occupy themselves. But with patience, understanding, and a dose of encouragement, wives can help their husbands overcome it.
Last updated: 09/28/22
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