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Husband in retirement

(59 Posts)
Cabbie21 Thu 24-Jan-19 14:52:06

My husband has been able to continue working in a part time capacity until over 70, which he was very happy to do. Now he is fully retired, and apart from occasional involvement with some charity work, he does almost nothing. His health is not great, but I know he feels better when he has things to do, yet he doesn’t seem to want to do anything much now, even hobbies.
It may be he just doesn’t feel well enough. I don’t know, because he doesn’t say. I don’t nag him about it, but I do get a bit resentful when he doesn’t even manage to ( for example) peel the potatoes, whilst I am out and about, busy with choirs and voluntary work or family.
We have never talked about a fair division of labour since retirement, and some of our old ways no longer work for us. I guess we really need to discuss what each is most able and suited to doing, according to our skills and abilities, or disabilities.
I really don’t want him to sink into being an old man sitting in his armchair being waited on just yet! Any suggestions?

Barmeyoldbat Fri 25-Jan-19 15:18:27

I don't know if this helps, but I always have Mondays doing nothing not even cooking., no cleaning or putting the washing on etc. On this day it is up to my husband and he is responsible for providing a meal for the day including planning and shopping.

4allweknow Fri 25-Jan-19 15:55:15

Cabbie21. I know where you are coming from. When my husband retired he became more and more obsessed with doing woodwork in his shed/workshop. He also volunteers with the Nat Trust and became involved in the creation of a Men's Shed. I was left to do all and sundry with the household. The most irritating part was how he would spend hours in the morning in the shed for 5 days coming up the garden at lunch time then back out until appearing again at dinnertime. The other days were more or less the same ie go out to activity returning for dinner. I have a couple of outside interests in the evening but for me to get out to them I have to have dinner done and dusted and cleared away before trying to get out the door in time. I felt I was more or less just a skivvy and started to just go out having trips to a couple of cities or visting towns on my own. This was eventually noticed and when asked why I just stated my case that I was basically left to do it all, with DH doing his own thing obviously not interested in doing anything together. Didn't take long for change to happen. Now out for coffee, occasional meal and trips in the week. They can become selfish after retirement and I think a good old jolt is needed to get some response.

Tillybelle Fri 25-Jan-19 16:57:17

I was about to switch to another subject, as I am not part of this group.
Then I thought, well, if this lady says, "I do get a bit resentful when he doesn’t even manage to ( for example) peel the potatoes, whilst I am out and about, busy with..."
Perhaps it is relevant for me to say, I don't get resentful, but I get exasperated when I hear people who have:
no real money problems so
live comfortable lives with
their husband/wife/partner
are able bodied
active and busy
involved in hobbies and clubs
meet people frequently
are not lonely
Those people with all the above in their lives, in my book, have no right to "get a bit resentful".

If you think he should do more towards the jobs in the house why don't you just tell him so?

And be glad he's there for you to tell him so.
And be glad you are so busy that you have been out.
And be glad that you are fit, able bodied, well enough to go out.
And be glad you get out to meet people and enjoy your activities.

Some of us have none of the above. But I do not get a bit resentful. Not at all.

HildaW Fri 25-Jan-19 17:33:47

Tillybelle, its true that there is always someone worse off than oneself and in the cold light of day you do know that but sometimes problems take on a significance all of there own often far more than they should and then they become crippling. Its good to open up about them and find that others share the problem.
On the other hand I fully understand that many people have so much to cope with and yet can still function and live a decent life.
Its a bit like the time I was coping with an extremely close relative dying from cancer and a less than supportive home life and feeling very alone. In a local supermarket some woman was causing the most remarkable scene because they had run out of some vegetable. Can remember thinking how shallow and ridiculous she must have been. A close friend punctured my perceptions by saying...'poor woman, it was probably the last straw for her and she was struggling with her life. Made me take stock and realise that so many of us are coping quietly with so much at any time and to just be grateful for what we do have. But thanks for your post it was good to be reminded to count my blessings.

sodapop Fri 25-Jan-19 17:36:29

I understand your feelings Tillybelle but its all relative isn't it. Some things just loom important in our lives and we sometimes lose perspective.
I'm sorry if life is difficult for you at the moment, its not always easy hearing about things others take for granted.

Lily65 Fri 25-Jan-19 17:40:18

Its a strange one that " there's always somebody worse off " thing isn't it?

Yes, undoubtedly there is but it doesn't always help if you are fed up!

B9exchange Fri 25-Jan-19 18:36:05

As another gransnetter said once, it works both ways. Just because there are people better off than me doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to feel happy. OP was looking for help and suggestions, everyone is entitled to their feelings, it would be a sad world if we weren't allowed to talk about them.

Pat1949 Fri 25-Jan-19 20:01:05

I think probably they don't notice if something needs doing. My husband has this awful habit of emptying the cupboards for me to wipe the shelves and leaving everything on the worktops for me to put back. Grrrrrr!!!

trendygran Fri 25-Jan-19 20:30:37

I am one of those widows Avalon.10 years down the line and would give anything to have company in my old age .My DH was disabled so not able to do a great deal ,but he did cook sometimes, -much better curry than I make. Have several good friends and meet them -or go U3A meetings during most weekdays,but there is no-one to share anything-jobs,shopping ,housework,conversation etc in the evening and at weekends. ,not to mention holidays. Make the most of the time you all still have together.

willa45 Fri 25-Jan-19 20:46:04

You seem to have assessed your problem very well and yes, you need to have 'that' conversation with your H. To varying degrees, many of us have had similar 'post retirement' issues..

Unless I'm mistaken, it's very likely you continue to take care of most of the household obligations. Now that HE'S retired, he's enjoying what he feels is a well earned, well deserved 'Permanent Vacation'.

The trouble is that unless he has plenty of hobbies, he's probably bored out of his mind by now and can't figure out what to do with himself. You, in the meantime continue to fill the role of housekeeper, personal valet, cook, courier etc., whether he goes out to play or sits idly by, and it's business as usual.

He should be reminded that even after retirement, he is still responsible for contributing to the household, even if it's in a different capacity. He should be mindful also, that if you're both living, eating, spending and working together under the same roof, that you also share the workload equitably.

Most importantly, he needs to realize that those (household) obligations are his responsibility too... and that he's not the only one who is BOTH are!

lmm6 Fri 25-Jan-19 21:44:31

Let's face it, I know it's extremely sexist, but men barely notice when something needs doing in the home. They are usually willing to help if you leave notes spelling out exactly what you want them to do. It's no good expecting them to do things of their own accord however frustrating it might be. Somebody once said to me the difference between the sexes is that men can live in squalor and women can't.

PECS Fri 25-Jan-19 22:25:53

My DH is 71 and still works p/t as do I. I do all the cooking , shopping & general tidying and am i/c garden!

DH usually loads & empties the washing machine, is i/c bins & 'minor' house maintenance!

We do have a cleaner who comes weekly to clean the kitchen, bathrooms/toilets and also vacuums through the house. So all pretty OK domestic chores wise.

We both have a busy shared social life as well as our own friends that we meet separately.
But I do agree that some days, if neither of us are working, we can get in each others way! The way we try to get round this is our shared diary where we put in our individual and shared appointments /outings etc. That way we see when we have shared free time and can plan either a pub lunch or see a film , do a crossword etc. etc. rather than sit about or annoy one another! It generally works!

Cabbie21 Fri 25-Jan-19 23:36:34

It has been interesting to read the various responses, some more understanding than others. Thanks for the various suggestions.
Today as I had to be out all afternoon, he did some printing I needed and had a meal ready when I got home, so he is not unhelpful.
I do appreciate that for some, my problems are insignificant compared with their loss, and I am sorry, and did not mean to cause offence, but we surely all have a right to raise issues?
In my situation, it is not just a question of who does what, in terms of household chores. It is more to do with DH’s health and well- being. He has a number of hobbies which he could now have time to indulge, but he seems to have no interest. I think he is more unwell than he is letting on, so I am not sure that it is the right time for a conversation about chores just now.
I have a whole day out tomorrow, and he is out all day Sunday for a change, so I will have to wait and see if that does him good or exhausts him. It is all a bit uncertain.

Ohmother Sat 26-Jan-19 00:28:10

Enjoy your days out you two. Hope you get to an understanding soon. ?

PECS Sat 26-Jan-19 08:21:23

cabbie sorry I think I misunderstood your main concern. At the moment I am very incapacitated by a bad back and cannot walk or stand for more than a few minutes. Consequently I have more sitting about time. I have read more, posted more etc. but I have had more time to focus on every little twinge, ache or pain. This , if I am not careful, can make me over focus on health and mortality. It is not very cheering! I am still able to work 3 half days and on those days my spirits are better... though physically I am far more tired. Maybe DH has also, because of his health slowing him down, become depressed too? Or worried about symptoms he now has time to notice?

Are his health problems chronic or is there a liklihood of improvement? It does sound as if he needs distraction from the process of aging and slowing down. There are many things out there but it depends on your DH interests and experience as to what he might do to have a " purpose" .

Cabbie21 Sat 26-Jan-19 08:53:45

PECS, I realise my OP came across as being a bit disgruntled about chores, which is not my main concern in fact. Yes, DH has been ill with bronchitis and has now got over that, but the rest of his conditions are long term and need medication and monitoring, which he is very good at. He has developed a further problem which he mentioned to the GP a while back, but it has persisted and could be serious. He flared up when I tried to discuss it and told me it was not my business. It affects aspects of everyday life, so it is my business, and if he needs an operation, who does he think is going to look after him afterwards?
He certainly needs something more to take his mind off his health concerns, but doesn’t have the motivation, since he can no longer do what he has always done. Yes he may be depressed. When does ( justifiably) feeling a bit low become something more serious? Hard to work out when the person chooses not to share his concerns very often. Nothing new, of course, he has always been reticent, but when you are busy with life it is less obvious. He has been fully retired for just over a year now.
I am off out now for a wonderful day of singing. Best tonic there is!

TerriBull Sat 26-Jan-19 09:01:11

I sympathise Cabbie21 I do think hobbies are important as people age.

My husband plays golf 3 times a week, which is and has been a great interest for yonks. To me it's a most mind numbingly boring game, but I have to admit it keeps him fit due to the walking involved. His cerebral hobby is learning Spanish, again an ongoing project and like me he loves to read. As for the division of labour, I do all the shopping and cooking, my husband did a fair amount of the cleaning, the heavy duty stuff like cleaning the bath and showers etc., then he hired a cleaner, I don't blame him, he knows I'm a bit useless as far as applying elbow grease is concerned. The general maintenance of the house and our cars is also his domain. Aside from that he likes to and see all of his grandchildren, 5 for him including the two we have together, one of whom is staying with us right now till we take her home later. He does get a lot more tired these days though, definitely likes an afternoon nap after golf, and if we do the after school pick up like we did yesterday, he feels the worse for wear as a consequence so I understand your concerns about your husband's exhaustion, I think as far as activity is concerned one has to pace oneself in retirement and not overdo things. I think anyone who remains relatively active through sports as they age is lucky. I try to do a bit of gym and yoga, I really don't enjoy the former but I feel I must try at least to do some exercise given all the warnings about the perils of leading a sedentary life.

Your concerns obviously run deep particularly relating to your husband's inactivity which may be masking some health problems I think you should encourage him to see his doctor. I hope you manage to sort something out.

PECS Sat 26-Jan-19 09:12:44

Your DH sound both frustrated and a bit afraid.
I have been unreasonably snappy with DH who has been nothing but kindness since my back became a bugger!
You can just " be there" and maybe voice his concerns.. if x does turn out to be y we will manage it together. etc. Sometimes hearing worst fears out loud makes them smaller. You know your DH so will know if that would cause more or less long term worry. Good luck ?

Tillybelle Sat 26-Jan-19 12:32:51

HildaW plus all of you who said things are relative

I know! I do understand! actually I think that living with someone 24 hours a day when you are both retired can be a huge strain! Thank you for not telling too harshly and for being gentle.

I simply wanted to reply with my honest thoughts, from the heart. As I said, when a thread discusses husband and wife issues I usually just think "Oh another one I can't relate to." But I realised it did give me a reaction and so I trusted you all and gave you my honest, naked reaction.

I am not judging you. Not in the least. I really do understand how living with someone can drive you up the wall especially when you feel they are taking you for granted.

May I though, sound just a little "preachy"? I lost my husband when I was just 42. we had 3 children. He had been difficult and often cruel. I had covered up his rude and cruel ways for 23 years. I met another man when I was 47. We did not move in together. Soon I found the relationship was one-sided. Early on I was victim in a car crash which has left me in disabling constant pain. I was driving him 200 miles home at 10pm which he just expected me to do. He liked to upset me and play cruel tricks but I could not free myself from him especially after he retired. In the end he had prostate cancer and did not go for treatment in time. He committed suicide violently and bloodily leaving me to discover him.

Please, all of you, when you feel that irritation build up again, I beg you, try and tell your other half, that despite his only all too annoying habits, you are so glad you have him! Please, enjoy every moment, good and irksome, enjoy the unpeeled spuds, enjoy the snoring, the unwashed mugs... tell him off of course and enjoy that he is there - in front of you letting you tell him off! Please cherish every minute with your normal, loving, irritating, but good, deep down good hearted and loving husband. We never know when it will end.

Thank you so much. Thank you for being kind to me.

eazybee Sat 26-Jan-19 16:19:20

Tillybelle, I don't think you sounded preachy.
Just talking sound common sense, and it needed to be said.
Please, don't apologise.

GabriellaG54 Sat 26-Jan-19 23:56:09

You say his health is not great.
What health issues does he have?
Maybe he's feeling a bit 'flat' after working for 50+ years and now he's wound down, possibly finds it difficult to maintain any enthusiasm for anything...even peeling potatoes.

Tillybelle Sun 27-Jan-19 16:01:02

eazybee. Thank you. thanks

Lyndylou Sun 27-Jan-19 16:37:46

I am very firmly of the view that if two people live in a house and need to be fed, keep clean, and have clean clothes and hygienic living conditions, then they both should be sharing the upkeep 50/50. Unfortunately, somehow I haven't been able to find a partner, male or female, who agrees with me. grin.

My XH of 25 years seemed to think the feminist he had married turned into his mother as soon as we got out of registry office. Once we had 2 small children he firmly told me child care was 100% my responsibility and then was surprised when I didn't want a 3rd.

My lovely OH of 14 years works 12 hours a week while I work 35 and to be fair he does cook tea. There is no way I could commute, work and cook tea so I am very grateful. It is not that I want him to do more, I just want him to stop leaving piles of things on the floor or the kitchen worktop for weeks. And possibly to sweep up after the dog he wanted so much so the muck it brings in doesn't get trod all over the carpets. It's not too much to ask is it? grin

PECS Sun 27-Jan-19 16:41:01

Lindylou sounds very reasonable to me! However the tricky bit is finding a partner who shares, exactly, ones own view of what tidy means!

sodapop Sun 27-Jan-19 17:13:10

Views are never going to be the same though are they PECS I think the trick is to decide which areas are most important to both of you and deal with them then compromise on the others. I know my cleaning and tidying can get on my husband's nerves so I try to limit this, he knows cleanliness is important to me so he cleans up after any jobs he does.
Leisure time is the same, some things we do together even if its not a favourite with one of us then we have separate interests. Compromise is a great thing.