Issues that men face in retirement

I had the opportunity to interview a number of men about their experiences with retirement. They ranged from one to five years into their retirements and so relatively early as their retirements could last another 30 years.

In January of 2016, Lyndsay Green’s book on this subject of men in retirement is due to come out and I am looking forward to reading it. Mitch Antony in his book, The New Retirementality, discusses the frustration of being on the grandstand and not being in the game. This got me curious about the issues that men face in retirement.

Issues, challenges and problems men face in early retirement

The responses that I heard most often had to do with identity issues. One person said he went from a legend to nobody in the snap of a finger while another called it the Hero to Zero fall. Status, position, role, and job satisfaction go by the board. Those who do not replace that with something else can have a real personal crisis of regaining a sense of who they are and how their lives are meaningful after work.

The other answers had to do with figuring out what to do with your time once the holiday stage is done, being active and productive, finding social connections and adjusting to the new realities.

“It’s a real mental adjustment once it sinks in you’re not going back to work. It’s like, now what?”
“You have to find a sense of purpose.”
“There are internal and external pressures that say I should be doing something.”
One of these external pressures may be from a spouse I heard.

Related article: Building a retirement vision

How can men cope with retirement?

I only had one response of,“Heavy drinking.” The rest had to do with postponing retirement, working part time, talking to a Retirement Coach, volunteering, starting a business, and keeping fit. The men I talked to did a wide variety of activities like Habitat builds, ski patrol, home and cottage renos, got involved in municipal politics, church work, charitable and fundraising activities, service club work, and a range of hobbies. Improved fitness was also a repeated theme. One whose wife was still working took over the shopping, cooking and a few other household chores. Another said he did not know what he would do without his weekly Men’s Group, “…hanging out with the guys and talking all this stuff out.”

Related article: Successful retirement is about more than just money

The experience of retiring

The men I interviewed were, by and large, positive about their experiences of retirement but I found most were still working in some capacity. Some did short stints in their former positions, had started a business, run for public office, were working part time and often at more than one job. One said that as long as he was able in mind and body, he would continue working to be productive and continue to make a contribution. Most said that they look for opportunities to use their experiences and skills. Another pointed out that, if you find yourself in a rut, get the hell out! He had friends who had not coped with retirement very well at all and had become depressed and jeopardized their marriages until they got their new acts together. The reality of physical changes and limitations also take some adjusting to and your pace may change a bit another pointed out.

Related article: Will you retire or keep working?

These talks with men reminded me of Chris Farrell’s book, Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life as well as Marc Freedman’s as both of these sing the praises of continued employment.

Stay tuned for next time to hear the advice from these men in retirement. I would like to hear of your experiences in retirement and your thoughts on issues that men face in retirement.


  1. Ashley

    As a man who may “retire” in less than 5 years in my early 50’s while my wife continues to work at her cosy government job this was fascinating. I’m planning on some of the very things listed in the article, very informative.

  2. Joey Sapien

    I’m in no way close to retirement. I think my “retirement” will be a second career or a business. Currently, I have my hand in a lot of different things. If anything, work is kind of in the way of me doing these other things. Don’t get me wrong. I love and appreciate my job. I just don’t see myself needing to “cope” with retirement.

  3. ESellers

    Good article. I think all working people face these issues, men and women.

  4. Steve

    I’m 56 this year. Won’t retire until early 60’s with my wife.
    Much of what I read indicates that most retirees LOVE it. They havent missed a day of work, or the cranky people!! We need to think outside the box more. Work should not define us. Most of us are not “heroes” at work. Make a list. Take a course, volunteer, look after your health, see more of the world….even if it’s just down the street! There HAS to be more to this life than work. Oh ya….. and once we lose our health, the game is over!

  5. John Johnston

    The article is good. I am 4 years into retirement and can add a few additional thoughts.
    1. If Married, spending lot’s of time together
    The number one item in my mind, if married, is to realize that you may spend a lot more time with your spouse. Before retirement we already spent most of our free time together.

    I’ll be brief here; We do have separate interests and friends but it is inevitable that we now spend a great deal of time together. Be prepared for disagreements and lots of essential communication and “give and take”. We are happy and everything is working out, just be aware of this reality.

    2. Money
    Spend wisely while expecting the unexpected, BUT, make sure you do some of the things you have dreamed of, ASAP. Not to be morbid but time and health grow more limited as each year passes. Start a written “bucket list”.

  6. Marci Moroz

    I am wondering why this information is directed only at men, when women face the same challenges. In my experience, there isn’t much difference other than, in group situations, women are more comfortable talking about it and can dominate the conversations.

  7. Bala Kris

    Men in retirement find several things quite satisfying:
    1. You love your life more.
    2. You learn to love your wife even more than before. Why? You both were in career jobs, raising children etc. Now, you have quiet time and you see your wife in a whole NEW way. I do not know about you – I love her more in my retirement than before.
    3. Community activities: get involved. Volunteer at a hospital. Work for a professional, pro bono. It is satisfying. Find a part time job in a completely different line of work than you are familiar with. I work as a parttime sales person at Home Depot. I learned as I go. I knew nothing about construction….!!!!
    4. Children/Grandchildren. They are a gift. Actually, if I knew grandchildren are so much fun, I would not have had any of my children….!!! They keep you young and healthy.
    5. Learn a new skill – how about Photography? If you were a manager in a manufacturing environment, this type of new skill puts a new perspective on life.

    Best of all, Love life. Embrace it. It will give you immense happiness in retirement – as a man.

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