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Retired husband problems or more?

(22 Posts)
Azie09 Thu 31-Mar-16 12:16:14

Hello, I'm more of a forum lurker than anything else. I admire how chatty and confident you all sound. I've found a couple of recent threads about long term marriages and DHs driving you mad and separation so useful.
So, I'm in my early 60s, husband a year older. He's an odd man (aren't they all) who I'm not sure will ever really retire. He's quite driven, does a consultancy with a friend (which has earned zilch over the last year) and also does editing and journalistic work on a freelance basis. He has worked from home for some years and he obviously loves it, he's a real homey type.
We're in the process of selling our house. Neither of us get state pensions for another 3 years. He has a private pension which he won't take, he keeps hoping the business will pick up. We live thriftily on my small pension from a past work and some savings.
I've recently given up the part time job I did because I just couldn't cope any more. I suffer from anxiety and fatigue. Nothing diagnosable by the GP but I wonder if I have mild chronic fatigue.
The fact that I'm at home now too is something I am finding so stressful. I feel like he's always watching me though he says he isn't. He has done the typical male thing of doing all the driving, all the cooking unless I get to the kitchen first, doing the shopping and recently, to my horror, he did the ultimate of staring hard at something I had picked up off the shelf in the supermarket and replacing it with something else, cheaper!
There are a lot of arguments, which adds to my weariness. And he comes out with things he then denies like a comment recently about 'working his socks off' and wondering 'what I am going to be doing while he does that' . My attitude to the future is, to be honest, selling the house and retiring on the proceeds, to some extent anyway. I am so tired and I just want to rest. When I have more energy, I do think about finding some work when we move.
I got 6 weeks counselling from my GP recently and at the end, after I had spent a lot of time talking about what seems like, in short, a passive, aggressive, avoidant partner, the counsellor said (in response to me saying I just didn't know what to do) 'well, I wouldn't marry him on the basis of what you've said'.
Sorry for the long post. I just wondered if anyone had a moment to read it whether there were any ideas about how to begin untangling things. He's actually out on business for the day today and I feel a weight gone off my shoulders. I know he'll be difficult about a separation, I've tried to talk about the possibility and he always just says 'we can work it out'. For goodness sake, just writing this makes me feel like Helen in the Archers. Am I going mad or am I not being sympathetic enough about the business etc. He can be loving and sometimes he does listen which just adds to my confusion. Sigh. Oh yes, btw I have adult children self sufficiently living away from home, no grandchildren.

obieone Thu 31-Mar-16 15:19:01

I am a bit confused really.
You sound quite tired, but on the other hand, it sounds like he is doing quite a lot at home?
Can you take to your bed for a few days, or go on a break somewhere to rest and recuperate?

Smileless2012 Thu 31-Mar-16 15:27:02

Oh dear Azie I can see why everything's getting you downflowers. I'm not sure that I have any good advice for you, I really just wanted to respond so you knew someone had read your post and to say there'll be plenty of helpful and supportive responses from other GN's.

When he heads for the kitchen you could try suggesting that you cook, after all he's been working or, and this is more likely what I'd say, 'you keep telling me you're working your socks off, so why do the cooking as well'. As for food shopping use the same approach, 'it's OK I'll go on my own while you get on with -working your socks off- your work'. If Mr. S. took something out of my trolley and replaced it with something else, his choice would go back on the shelf and mine back in the trolley. Chance would be a fine thing, grocery shopping is as rare as it is novel to him.

You don't say how long you've been married but I'm guessing for some time and IMO I don't think that comment from your counsellor was particularly helpful or professional, I mean you are married to him and the problems that you're now experiencing are at least in part because circumstances have changed.

Yep, men are odd aren't they; been happily married to mine for 35.5 years and still find him odd at times and a little prone to playing the martyr; had a difficult day, I'm exhausted but it's OK I'll do etc. etc. I don't think you're going mad or being unsympathetic I think you just need to talk. Perhaps you having given up work, if only for the time being has made him anxious about your finances.

I do hope you can talk this through. Good luck.

Smileless2012 Thu 31-Mar-16 15:28:54

Sorry I must have done something wrong, working your socks off was supposed to have been struck through; that what comes of being a technophobeblush

Azie09 Thu 31-Mar-16 16:01:23

I was terrified to look and see if there were any answers! I am horribly confused and thank you smileless and obleone for your replies. We've been married for 35 years. I am exhausted, last of the kids left home last year and I spend a lot of time feeling I just want to curl up in a corner and sleep forever though sometimes I feel better and I do walk and swim regularly. However I have developed a number of recent allergies and I spend a lot of time feeling generally grotty. GP has done various tests and now she just says I'm ageing and I have to slow down and take note of my body's reactions. This in response to me especially suffering from a cold or infection the moment I do more than the usual.

This really ought to be in the health thread I guess. The thing I puzzle over is that I don't want my husband to just do everything. The thing is he's really capable and he can and does do things though maybe his frustrations leak out in what come across as snide comments. A lot of the time he's silent. He's also very chaotic and untidy and the kids used to be like that too and I often feel I am the one 'picking up the pieces'. For instance when he does some gardening, he'll chop lots of things down and then wander off distracted leaving tools everywhere and a bag of cuttings on the lawn. These can remain for days, sometimes I clear up, sometimes I ask him to and he will do it though he moans. I'm realising as I write that he's always been like this and I've given up complaining for peace sake and although there are occasional catastrophes, mostly we get by. He likes to think he is super relaxed and laid back and he can be, it's just not always the best way to be and it leaves me anxious about lots of things.

I know he does worry about money but he won't talk about it, last year I only discovered that there had been no income from the business for a couple of months because I was checking the bank account because he NEVER does. He then insisted that he had told me but I really don't think that was true.
I wouldn't anymore describe my marriage as happy. Lovely for those of you who feel they are. Maybe a thread on how to make a happy marriage would be good? I saw somewhere recently that low expectations was one key! Thanks again.

NanaandGrampy Thu 31-Mar-16 16:46:19

I was so sad when I read your post Azie.

I feel retirement is the gold at the end of the long working rainbow and should be for enjoyment so to know you're not currently in that place is sad.

I have a couple of suggestions ( apart from getting a bigger patio - you need it for burying husbands smile ).

Firstly, if you're so tired then rest. Let him cook, clean, all the things he wants to do . Let it all wash over you. Take gentle walks if you're able ( alone is probably better but you never know it might turn out to be something you could do together). Don't worry about conversation , just be. Use it as thinking time to come up with a list of what you do like/want.

At some stage maybe come up with a list of all the things you hate. Then whittle the lists down. For instance my husband can be a bit of a wind up merchant , which drives me nuts. BUT that's offset by how good he is round the house.

At the end of it you should have a list of what are the best bits about your life and marriage and the things that really matter and drag you down.

At that stage you'll have information to base your choices on.

Take your quiet time to rest, eat well, let everything wash over you and get some strength back.

It sounds like you picked up after him all your married life, its become as much a habit for you as him. Stop it ! smile If he only does half a job , give him time to clear it up ,( not to your timeline but to his) and if that doesn't happen tell him what you want, if he complains tell him it was his job , you're not his skivvy. Tell your kids the same if they come home and bring chaos with them.

I think you need some time to decide what you can and cant live with , so take it. This is your life. Then make the changes you need to be happy. You deserve it.

The Queen is dead , Long live the new improved and happier Queen that's what I say [ smile]

Azie09 Thu 31-Mar-16 16:47:21

Sorry to post again, but, on the husband front, how about

Going shopping without consultation of me or the fridge and buying lots of duplicates which sit opened at home.
Refusing to use the dishwasher but instead doing the washing up, always next morning, not scraping the plates before putting them in the water, then tipping out the bowl and not cleaning up the detritus in the sink.
Never cleans the car, inside or out.
Never does DIY willingly and resents paying anyone else to.
Never notices the cat's food or water bowl needs filling.
Never tidies up or if he does, just throws everything away.
Never cleans windows or paintwork.
Will vacuum if asked but never empties the bag/cylinder.
Decorates once in a blue moon if I suggest it.
Will suddenly, out of the blue, take it upon himself to set about cleaning the kitchen or bathroom with much flourishing of water and cleaning materials whether I have recently done it or not (he never notices).

I do all these things and more. He likes reading (a lot), riding his bike (he sets himself a target of 200 miles a month since he got a new bike last year), fiddling on his computer, going out to his choir once a week, pottering about with little writing projects and putting out the rubbish.

There, got that off my chest.

Luckygirl Thu 31-Mar-16 17:40:44

I am confused - you say he does everything and you don't get a look in, then there is a list of all the things that he never does that you wish he would. You feel tired (which would make him doing lots a good thing) but you seem to find it hard to rest and let him get on with stuff. I have found that if you agree to OH (or indeed anyone else in any other context) doing stuff, then you have to let them do it their way.

If I am confused about what you really want, I winder if might it be that your OH is too?

It would seem that there are two things operating here: your ill health and anxiety, and your unhappiness with your OH.

It sounds as though you are not feeling very well, so that really does need addressing. Have you asked your GP if this might be ME and sought a referral to someone who knows something about it?

And OH? - can you sit down and make a list of what you would like your OH to do or not do, and then discuss it with him? At least he would know then and could say whether he can or cannot meet these wishes. But beware - he might then have a list for you!! Or you could try RELATE, if you feel sufficiently motivated to do that.

Rubbing along with someone over decades is not always easy. And it helps if you love them - and I get the feeling that for you this has dwindled somewhat. Lots of couples settle for the devil they know rather than one they don't - i.e. they stick together because separating is too challenging, presenting practical, financial and wider family problems.

I wish you luck with all these challenges and hope that you can get your health problems sorted, as this will be making everything feel more difficult.

obieone Thu 31-Mar-16 18:34:48

Good posts above.

I think I understand a bit more where you are coming from.
Clearing up after someone can take almost as much effort as doing a job yourself.

I do think you need a change of scene by getting out of the house, at least for a few days.

NanaandGrampy Thu 31-Mar-16 19:53:54

Azie it's interesting to see the long list of things that your husband does wrong. It's hard to gauge in text but you sound very angry with him?

Is it difficult to talk to him about your concerns?

Some of your list are things that he does badly or not in a way you like . Some are things he just doesn't do . What exactly would make you happy? Do you know what happiness looks like for you?

Could you discuss that with your husband ?

I'm not sure what to suggest , and I'm not sure you're looking for a solution or just some support and for a place to vent? That's fine if you are .

Grannyben Thu 31-Mar-16 19:58:16

Hi Azie, I think you're probably in need of hugs as much as helpful advice so I'm sure plenty of GN's are sending them. A few years ago I went through a very difficult time and I suffered the very symptoms you are describing. My children were still at home then and every day I would get them off to school and then literally crawl up the stairs to make the beds. After doing the first one I had to lie down on the next before I could carry on. I quite literally felt like the life had been drained from me. I was suffering from depression and really couldn't see the good in anything. Obviously I can't say that applies to you but I do think you need to be speaking to your GP. Perhaps if you were feeling better in yourself the situation with your husband might not seem as bad xx

Azie09 Thu 31-Mar-16 21:40:55

Thank you all again for your comments, they are helpful. I probably am a bit angry with OH. I realised, having written it all down, that he doesn't do everything, he does what he enjoys largely without consulting me! And so I end up doing what he doesn't enjoy and doesn't want to do or only half does!

Thank you NanaandGrampy and Grannyben because I think I do need a few hugs and a bit of understanding. Luckygirl I hadn't thought about ME but I am a bit taken aback by the GP saying it's just old age because surely not at 62? I have wondered if I still love OH and I do envy those people who seem to just know, without question, that they want to be with their partner. I must admit, I sometimes think I would be happier on my own but then we have a nice time together, maybe just watching the tv or going to a film and I feel better about us.

Grannyben, your description of tiredness is absolutely how I feel. I do wonder about depression because I've read that being irritable can be a symptom. I don't feel overly down but I feel quite flat and I've known for years that I probably suffer SAD because I get very down in the winter. I actually went to my GP before Christmas and said I was depressed (I've just reached the age my mother was when she died and my father died in the autumn and I'd been thinking about them and feeling very sad). I felt very low and would have taken a handful of pills (I'm usually someone who refuses medication) but instead I found myself in a new era of being prescribed counselling instead! I liked the counsellor and found him helpful but six weeks is really not very much though one has to be grateful it's on offer at all.

It is a time of change and I miss my daughters, it's true. One of them is going to New Zealand in the autumn. She's got her visa and her sister is thinking of going with her. I try not to think about how much I'll miss them, I don't feel Skype etc is going to be quite the same. So I suppose I do wonder what life has in store now and I am trying to get out and start some new activities but it's good advice to take some time to myself and think about what makes me happy. I don't have a ready answer to that at the moment.

Coolgran65 Thu 31-Mar-16 22:12:07

I think you sound quite sad and depressed.
Certainly don't think your counsellor's comment helped much.
Would you go back to your doctor, tell her exactly how you feel, or write it down and give it to her. Fight your corner for help.

My own story........ I didn't think I was depressed, thought I was just tired. When at the doctor about a specific matter he turned around and said, and how are you feeling. Next thing I was in floods. He suggested an anti depressant and I said no. After a year of feeling no better, not unhappy, just flat and excited about nothing...... I agreed to try the AD. Within a month I was smiling, keen, a brighter person. Felt stronger and better able to cope.

It sounds rather as if your husband starts a job and you finish it off.
What about speaking up for yourself. Never mind if he is taken aback, say you want to do X, Y or Z.

By the time your daughter is in New Zealand you could be feeling much better and looking forward to visiting her. Perhaps even by yourself.
62 is not old. GP may talk of the aging process but you get in there, fight for her help in feeling better.
When you feel better..... everything looks better.... and you may feel more like standing up for yourself. xx

f77ms Thu 31-Mar-16 22:44:28

Azie, You sound just like I did 10 years ago . You sound sad and not well , maybe another visit to the GP ( a different one ) to discuss whether anti depressants would be an option ? they really helped me in similar circumstances and enabled me to cope and make the decisions I needed to make at the time .
I found it very helpful to keep a daily diary , I wrote down the good things as well as the bad and also a list of goals . It became apparent that bad outweighed the good in my case and I did end up separating and eventually divorcing .- I am not suggesting that you should ! but seeing it written down I realised how bloody miserable I was , and how unwell it was making me .
Have you considered doing a bit of charity work or joining a group ? it may help to spend sometime doing something for yourself , you get to meet other people and a change of scenery can be a tonic. xx

Synonymous Thu 31-Mar-16 22:54:11

Azie I really feel for you. There are many good posts above so do take note.
This time of your life is a time of huge changes for you. Your role has changed and is continuing to change. You are thinking it is the end because family members have died at this point so it is depressing because you still have lots you want to do. The children are all now off hand and even thinking of going right round to the other side of the world so you are dreading that. Your husband is actually retired and playing at being 'a business man'. If he really was a business man he would be earning money and clearly he is not doing that if the bank account shows that no money is going into it. He is living off your money and some of your savings - why is that do you think? He is disorganising your home routines and when he gets bored goes off and leaves big messes. In reality he is just playing.

You say you have been to the doctor so presumably have had your bloods done and nothing obviously detrimental was found. So here are some suggestions for you:
1. It would do you no harm to take some supplements: St John's Wort,
also take a good multi mineral and multi vitamin containing plenty of Vit b 6&12 and particularly Vit d. We don't make vit d at our age and we need it. Do a search on these and you will see what I mean.
2.Get a cleaner in for a couple of hours a week
3. Get plenty of sleep and
4. try to go for a gentle walk every day.
5. Go swimming regularly (preferably with a friend) as that is particularly good for you.
6. Try to count at least three things you can praise your DH for each day and try to do it. He may well be surprised or even shocked and it will show in his face -
7. this will make you laugh! It is good to laugh as it releases endorphins.
8. This is also why it is good to smile lots, wise to do it out of public view if you don't have a good excuse or it will frighten the natives. grin
9. Go and have a facial and a massage this will make you feel special
10. Do something amazing that you have wanted to do for ages and never had the courage to do.
11. Sort out all your clothes and revamp your wardrobe.
12. Choose somewhere to go and invite your husband out on a date. (If he refuses tell him not to worry if he can't because you have a reserve in mind.) so good to worry the heck out of them. grin By this time hopefully he will be intrigued and interested.
13. Spend some money perhaps on a good holiday and don't worry about it because your DH should be working properly by now or have retired to have fun together with you.
14. Then come back and tell us what has happened - second thoughts keep us updated as we will be interested in your progress.

The above may be a bit whacky but do it and have fun!
Big ((hugs)) and flowers

Coolgran65 Thu 31-Mar-16 23:01:10

Just be careful about taking St John's Wort. It interacts with certain medications.

obieone Fri 01-Apr-16 09:43:08

Can I ask, are you a person of indeciveness at the best of times? And how long has your husband been acting the way he does?

I am trying to assertain whether this state of affairs has always been thus or crept up on you.

obieone Fri 01-Apr-16 09:44:47

Having reread the thread, there really isnt much joy in your life. Some of Synonymous's ideas are very good.

Azie09 Fri 01-Apr-16 10:19:24

Thank you all again. I'll take some time to read the suggestions which are certainly helpful. It's my inability to see what's me and what's OH/the situation that's been really upsetting me. I don't want to end my marriage at this point and be even more stressed out. It is certainly true that there is no joy in my life at the moment.

Obieone I am not indecisive but OH is to the point of absurdity. If he can avoid taking a decision, he will and I know I have felt drained by living with that. I think OH has got worse since he stopped doing a job outside of the home and the children left, so within the last 5 or 6 years. I do feel that he is playing with his business and playing with life to suit himself. We only finally put the house on sale when I got really heavy about the long term implications of our financial position and said I would leave unless we took action. He is cooperating on that now though he will still admit that left to his own devices he wouldn't bother. When I look at his life he is one of those who has just floated through, a modestly privileged background, nothing awful has ever happened to him and jobs have dropped in his lap. He is working now with a friend he first met at university (one of those grand ones!!).

A little bit of me reads this and thinks I'm a fool but I had a difficult childhood and I can be quite a vulnerable person. I admire those people who are brave enough to walk away but I don't have any family who I am close enough to go to and I do have friends but landing myself on them would be quite a major thing to do so I spend time chafing away and don't do anything.

Grannyben Fri 01-Apr-16 22:03:58

Azie, if I was you, I would get myself back to the doctors (are you able to see another GP at the practice?) and tell him that you have been attending the counselling sessions they very kindly arranged but you do not feel that you are improving and could you therefore try antidepressants. You do seem to have such a lot going on, particularly with your daughter's moving away, and I wonder if the pain of that is making your husband's failings all the more obvious to you. I do suspect he's probably always had his annoying ways but when you have been feeling better in yourself you have managed to overlooked them. It's time to put your health first and I know you still have some traumatic times to come but it never fails to surprise me how strong we can be when we have no alternative xx

Coolgran65 Fri 01-Apr-16 22:15:42

What Grannyben said.

Azie09 Sat 02-Apr-16 12:41:04

I feel a bit horrified at what I've written but buoyed up by some real grannying which is something I never had and full of new ideas, thank you. Golly I hope I can contribute something more positive elsewhere on the site. grin