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Carolyn Hax: Don’t let husband’s sedentary lifestyle ruin your retirement

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are both 61 and fat. I, however, am active and work to keep moving and have no health issues. My husband is sedentary, and I have watched him go from pre-diabetes, to diabetes, to now having to take insulin and a recent hospitalization with diabetes complications.

I am growing angry at his disregard for what I thought was our shared retirement of hiking, biking and travel. I am worried I will lose him or worse, watch him suffer. How do I keep my resentment at bay? – M.

Know you will watch him suffer, be his caretaker and lose him.

For sure? No, anything’s possible; we’re all one accident or diagnosis away from a future we never imagined.

But your resentment lives in the gap between what you have and what you want, so close it. Stop hoping things will be different. Accept the worst-case scenario, grieve, express your anger about it to your husband. Tell him you love him and envisioned years of his company, and it pains you to spend this time instead witnessing his self-destruction.

Unless you’ve said so already. In that case, skip the harping and move to the next step: the life you lead in this truth.

And make the best you can of who your husband actually is.

That can mean a lot of things; even with the hard limits of age and weight and health conditions and expenses and whatever else, there always remains a high degree of choice. You can adjust what you think, what you do, what you plan and with whom, and what you expect of it all.

It seems your choice is between an active retirement or a shared one – but not both. Or one that toggles between the two: X diversions you share with your husband, because he is physically capable of them; Y activities you do independently.

Anticipate and budget for the caretaking, too, so it doesn’t chain you to home.

I won’t pretend this is a great solution. “Bye, I’m off to do Y while you yell at the TV” is not a scene out of anyone’s epic romance.

But it’s a solution that’s real, achievable and potentially lifesaving, since simmering anger will kill off these last years for you – emotionally, if not for real – faster than the sofa is killing your husband. Be active in peace.

Dear Carolyn: We have gone on weekend getaways with another couple for years. They are now asking about a longer vacation. The trouble is, the entire time they are calling or texting their children about everyday things. We love our kids, but connect with them when we return home. I’ve jokingly hinted at the amount of time on the phone, but it doesn’t seem to get to them.

The wife also receives constant Facebook notifications that she immediately checks.

If I tell the truth I’m afraid we’ll lose their friendship, which I value greatly. They would do anything for us, if needed. – Too Much

Possibly the one good thing about dumbphones ruining everything is that you needn’t point fingers. Everyone’s guilty! So: “Yes, we’d love a longer vacation! A warning, though – I’m on an anti-phone crusade and will only go unplugged. That OK?” If they refuse: “I understand – another time then.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 9 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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