How to Get a Retired Husband off the Couch

by Molly Thompson
You can help your husband from turning into a couch potato.

You can help your husband from turning into a couch potato.

When your husband retires, he may (rightly) feel he is entitled to a little down time, with no schedules, no commitments and no need to fill his day with activities or chores. This might be fine for a few weeks, but when it stretches to months, it can be problematic for both you and your husband. Use your ingenuity and creativity to help him find activities that will get him up and active again.

Acknowledge to your husband that you appreciate his years of hard work and support his desire for a few weeks of relaxation. Depending on your budget, plan a dream vacation or a mini-getaway to celebrate this milestone.

Enjoy a casual lunch or dinner with your husband and share ideas about what you both envision for his retirement years. Perhaps he has a hobby or interest he is eager to pursue, or maybe he wants to work at a low-stress, part-time job to keep his mind engaged outside the home. These kinds of goals make it considerably easier to get your husband off the couch at the end of your agreed-upon "relax time."

Encourage your husband to take advantage of his newly available free time to give back to the community he loves. He can volunteer at the local food pantry or homeless shelter, mentor a struggling teen or get involved in public service in your area, suggests Phil Taylor in "U.S. News & World Report." If he's interested in earning money, suggest potentially lucrative ways he might put his expertise or passion to work: teaching a class, writing a blog or coming up with a new product or idea. Planning ahead helps stave off feelings of uselessness that retirees often feel, reports the website Retired Pay.

Get involved in activities you both enjoy that are fun to pursue as a couple. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class, take the family boat out for a sail more often or dust off the bikes in the garage and explore trails in your area. If indoor activities are more your thing, teach a Sunday School class together, enroll in a cooking class or work together to update that dark, dreary basement you've been meaning to get to for years, but just never seemed to have the time for.

Encourage a recalcitrant spouse to get moving by inviting him to join you for a walk around the neighborhood or a stint at the gym -- and don't take "no" for an answer. Point out that one of the benefits of his retirement that you've been looking forward to is time to take leisurely walks every day. Remind him that you do better at your workout if you have him as a partner to encourage you and push you a little harder.


  • Don't nag. Frame your suggestions as fun things you both can enjoy or as an opportunity for your spouse to pursue a beloved hobby or passion. Engage friends or your family to help you. Perhaps the neighbor who owns your husband's favorite book store needs some part-time help or your grandchild's recreational baseball team needs an assistant coach.


  • If your husband fails to respond to suggestions or encouragement, ask his doctor to help you by creating an exercise regime for him or assessing him for signs of depression.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images