Technically, retirement means the end of one’s career. But anyone who’s retired or is close to retiring knows that that’s only the half of it. To some, retirement feels like the end of one lifetime and the beginning of another. To others, it feels like falling off a cliff. This life-altering event doesn’t just affect our bank accounts and daily schedules; it also has a profound effect on our romantic relationships.
Everything we do from the age of one day old to the day we retire is like an arrow-straight line on a graph labeled “Career.” Our careers may have ups and downs or change course, but the idea that one should have a job and that job should take up the majority of one’s time is ingrained in us from the beginning of our lives. Parents of infants try to predict what their babbling babies will do for a living based on which episode of Sesame Street they re-watch the most. High school kids are reminded over and over that where they go to college can affect the rest of their lives. Then it’s college or straight from high school to vocation, and then onward toward career-building. In the United States, especially, what we do often feels more important than who we are.