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Getting to know you ?takes on new meaning

My husband and I are recently retired empty-nesters and about to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in July. We have a great marriage filled with laughter, love and many shared interests.

My husband worked the midnight shift, and often put in 60- or 70-hour weeks. I worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many times our paths would cross only on the stairs when I was going to bed at 10 p.m. and he was leaving for work.

The song for our wedding was "Destiny" — appropriate, I thought, for finding each other and a second marriage. After eight months of retirement, I think I need to change our song to "Getting to Know You."

My bedtime routine was the usual pampering — slathering of cream on my face, my newly painted toenails on top of the covers in their little sponge separators, wearing my old ripped T-shirt and pajama pants. I had the entire king-size bed and all the pillows and covers to myself. I could open the window when those hot flashes became unbearable and read my book with the light on until I fell asleep.

My husband is 6-foot-2 and sleeps with all the covers wrapped around him like a cocoon — in the middle of the bed. I won't even get into the snoring, but I think there is a new track for freight trains in our back yard. When I am finally ready to fall asleep, I like it dark and quiet. So why does the fan have to be on full blast? To shut out the noise outside? We live on a cul de sac — there is no noise at night.

I was so happy to finally be able to have breakfast with my husband. I would make his coffee (OK, it was from the Keurig, but still), and scramble an egg or two for us. However, I was used to having the newspaper all to myself in the morning. My husband teases me, "Do you have to read every single article and the whole newspaper cover to cover?" Yes. Now it's a race to see who gets it first. The new rule is whoever goes outside in his or her PJs to get the paper gets first dibs on the front page and the prime spot at the kitchen table.

My husband can eat a small bowl of cereal in the morning and then go all day without eating anything until dinner time, which is 4 p.m. for him. I have to eat breakfast at 8, lunch at noon and dinner at 6. (And some snacks in between.)

We started out retirement by rolling out of bed when we felt like it, puttering around the house, reading our books and going to the cheap movies in the middle of the day. That lasted about two weeks. We quickly realized we needed a schedule of things to do. Every room in our house suddenly seemed smaller. Every time we turned a corner, the other one was lurking. "What, you again?"

I keep hearing "Honey, have you seen my …" (keys, wallet, sunglasses, hat). How did he ever survive without my detective skills?

My husband suddenly started repainting every room in the house — with the door shut. "I need to keep the dust out," he said. Hmm, I think he needed to keep me out.

We quickly volunteered with several organizations and joined a gym. Now the new code for "I need some time alone" is "I'm going to the gym."

I love my husband and wouldn't change a thing about him. "Getting to Know You" has taken on a whole new meaning in our house. He is probably feverishly writing his side of the story right now with a cup of coffee — that he made. I'll be at the gym.

Susan Smith, of Williamsville, retired last August after 17 years in support services for a heating and plumbing company.