Q: My husband, a sales director, said he was going to retire at 65. He's now 68. There's always 'another deal' or 'more commission' that keeps him tied to the company, and the four-month cruise we'd planned keeps getting postponed. I feel like my life is on hold because of him and I'm sick of it. What can I say to make him see there's life beyond work?
Jeremy says: For many people, both men and women, work is a great deal more than a necessary activity that earns the money that pays for the food on the table.
They're the lucky ones. It means that they've found an occupation that engages and challenges them; that gives them opportunities to win or lose; that provides them with colleagues and friends with a shared framework of experience: often the most agreeable to have a drink and a gossip with.
During their working lives, men in particular are often reluctant to admit to all this; thinking, wrongly, that to be seen to be enjoying their work is tantamount to saying that they find their home life unsatisfactory. So they pretend to be looking forward to retirement when in fact they're half dreading it. I suspect that everyone knows of men who've gone - abruptly, overnight - straight from work-filled days to barren diaries. And who've languished unhappily at home, often falling into physical and mental decline as a direct result.
To your husband, though he may be too considerate to say so, a four-month cruise with only oblivion at the end of it may be a nightmarish prospect; and you mustn't take this as a personal insult. Instead, talk to him openly and see if between you - and his company - you can engineer not sudden death but a mutually agreeable tapering-off. You'll both be much happier people if you can.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.