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Beacon Senior News

Looking for a way to switch up retirement? Ditch the gender roles!

Oct 01, 2020 11:44AM ● By Melanie Wiseman

Whether it’s a result of having extra time on our hands, boredom after doing the same chores for years, or lessons from previous marriages, many Boomer couples are choosing to swap household roles in retirement.  

Growing up, we Boomers saw household responsibilities fall to Mom or Dad based on their gender, whereas today, such obligations are up for grabs. Cooperation is encouraged, and responsibilities are often divvied up to the individuals best suited for the job. 

This flexibility makes for happier and healthier relationships. 

For my husband Dan and me, our roles around the house have never aligned with what’s considered “normal.” For one, I find mowing the yard meditative, and Dan did all the cooking until a few years ago when he admitted to being burned out and accepted my help. Where some couples find it romantic to cook together, we stand by the “one person in the kitchen at a time” rule to avoid a disastrous collision.

But for some couples, sticking with more traditional roles works just fine. 

At Barb and Bill Johnson’s house, she takes care of the inside while he takes care of the outside. She hangs on to bathroom duty so they stay up to her standards but does ask for the occasional assistance with vacuuming. 

Dan and I also follow tradition with a few roles that we’re happy to let the other take care of. Home and car repairs fall under Dan’s to-do list, and because he’s color blind, I’m happy to shop for clothes and decorate our home.

However, not long ago, husbands were more likely to be in charge of managing the household budget. Today, it’s a tossup, with women taking over balancing the books in most cases. Barb does, since Bill believes a McDonald’s BigMac should still cost 59 cents.

Dan Baumbach said he’s taken over doing his own laundry after many frustrating years of single socks going missing. (Kudos to his wife, Linda, for intentionally tossing the occasional sock.) 

I even have several women friends who’ve shaken up traditional roles after retiring by rewarding themselves with a house cleaner, allowing for more time to play and volunteer. You go, girls!