Retired Hubby Syndrome

Retired Hubby Syndrome

An article by Ms.Gita Ravi – A Resident of Covai S3 Senior Care Centre


Wives suffer stress and depression when men quit work (and its worst each year) according to studies conducted in the west.

Retirement is the stage when a husband and wife finally have a chance to spend time together, free from the stresses and strains of working life.

But far from being an era of relaxed contentment, retirement can be stressful for couples.

Many wives begin to suffer from ‘retired husband syndrome ‘ once their men give up work, academics have claimed.

They discovered that nearly half of women complained of increasing levels of stress, depression after their other half retired. Every extra year husband spent on retirement, the wife’s condition became worse.

Part of the cause of great stress was that women are faced with an increase in housework.

After maybe years of working life and progressive estrangement it can be a stressful experience for wives, who suddenly have to face the continuous presence of a stranger in the house and the additional burden of tending to his requests.

Studies found 47 per cent of wives reported emotional problems when their husbands had retired, 41 percent said they were depressed and 16 percent had experienced sleeping problems.

Wives of retired men told a US doctor “I’m going nuts’, ‘I want to scream’ or he’s under my feet all the time’. Dr.Charles Clifford Johnson’s theory gained much attention, but the new study is the first to demonstrate it is true on a large scale.

Evidence showed retirement could be tough for men too because as their mental health and mood declines, life in turn becomes yet harder for their wives who always end up with a bigger share of frustration.

In the retirement community where I stay we have all the above mentioned cases but:

We we can be placed under different categories: 

We have couples who maintain a healthy balance in lifestyle. We have couples who really enjoy their sunset years together sharing everything they do. These couples are so close that I sometimes wonder what happens when one walking ahead into oblivion. I have a friend who can’t talk about her husband without shedding a tear. The reason is they were equal partners in life. She was not made to feel less equal anytime.

There is another category that starts enjoying life after their spouse departs. It’s not that they have not done their duty. They did, taking care of each of his needs even after their husbands were bedridden, were  there with a helping hand, sometimes grudgingly because they were e never appreciated. Once their spouse departs they start a life on their own doing things they always wanted to do with friends who face similar situation. In this situation mostly wives have to start from scratch because their husbands never made any attempt to make them independent whilst alive thought them anything or encouraged them by giving them moral support.  There are wives who don’t even know to sign a cheque leaf or to take charge of anything. They have always been ruled and made useless by their husbands who grudgingly did things for them thus making them fully dependable. Still, ladies cope much better than men when single.

There is another category that is always arguing and shouting at each other. One does not understand the other or they are not compatible. Because they were married they were expected to live together.  In this case if the husband survives, he lives a secluded life cursing his existence because he has never cared for anybody and in particular his wife.  If the wife survives she somehow copes with life making herself useful to people who appreciates and cares for her.

Yes there are husbands who suffer in the hands of their wives too and husbands who tend to their sick wives with much love and care. Of course, they are a minority. The only difference is care giving becomes the wife’s responsibility no matter what the husband’s character maybe, when a husband does it, it is talked about with much ado and he is talked about in the community as a model husband.

I have a friend who I feel enjoys the best retirement life because they don’t sit on each other’s head 24/7. Husband has full freedom to do whatever he wants which he missed during his working life. He being a movie buff and a music lover is a regular there she has lots of time to herself. And, together they take off to destinations they have always wanted to go enjoying each others company. It’s really a pleasure seeing couples who care for each other in their old age.

Once somebody asked a movie star what is the secret of their long married life. She replied with a smile. Oh it’s simple “we hardly see each other “.

Love is not controlling one’s partner or spending day and night in each other’s company. It’s the freedom to let go and to give each other space and at the same time be there for each other.

Here in India we always want control over the spouse which in turn translates to anger, resentment and indifference. So in the end two strangers who may be good individuals stay together and live a loveless life and fade away.

A little understanding and a little kindness from both sides  will go a long way into making   retired life happy,  and, a man should take up something as long as he can, if not for finances at least for the other person’s sanity because a woman never really retires from her duties.”IT’S UNTO DEATH DO US PART” so she definitely deserves much more understanding than her counterpart.

The best part of staying in a retirement home is somehow ladies who come from different financial and cultural backgrounds, irrespective of whatever high posts they must have held officially, at the end of the day most of our problems are the same. People talk openly and are a solace to each other which goes beyond wanting to gossip and spoil the others life. While we laugh openly and speak about each other’s problems men are so closed, that they do not want to or don’t find a friend to talk openly or their pride shuts them up that they suffer silently.

We ladies are happy to be part of this extended family sharing our sorrows and joys and being there for each other.

These are the perks of living in a retirement home for us ladies

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