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Struggling with husband


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Good evening everyone,

I'm looking for some advice as I'm finding things difficult at the moment. To give you some background, I'm married and my husband is considerably older than me by more than 20 years. This has not been an issue before and I will say people always comment how young he seems for his age and outlook etc.

He is retired and I work. For the last decade it's been like this and worked well. He seems to enjoy his retirement and is happy to take the role of a house husband.

However, I'm now on holiday from work and some things have struck me. He mentions a lot how he is usually on his own all day most of the year. It is said in jest but I'm beginning to realise from some other things that have been said, that he is making a point that he's been left all day alone. For the past few months I've taken some guilt for this, but while I've been off I'm beginning to think actually this is not all my fault. I have my career and need to work. He has the opportunity to go out and male the effort to meet people or socialise but is choosing not to. 

This leads me to my other point. In the few days I've been off I've realised how very boring his day is. After doing some errands he basically sits and watches Netflix, does some games or reads. He sometimes goes for a coffee but doesn't have any regular friends. 

We have had a few silly arguments while I've been off. He says I'm constantly undermining him when we have a conversation but in my eyes, I'm simply replying with a response or opinion. He says this makes his opinion then invalid as I think I'm more important than him. It's all been very much bickering and is very tiring. He says everything that is done or decisions that are made are all with me having the final word and it's simply not true. 

I really think he's forgotten the art of conversation or being around people. I really really want to talk to him properly about the situation as the bickering is getting to me, he says he's frightened to say anything because I argue etc but I really don't. I just want to get along and enjoy the holiday time but it's constant stress with his attitude. 

I'm desperate for him to get a hobby or something to occupy his time. He has suffered badly from depression in the past and I can see this rearing again if things aren't sorted. Activity wise sport isn't really an option as he has COPD but there seems to be an overall lack of effort to do anything and then blame everyone else. He says he's absolutely fine being on his own but I just don't agree, I'm seeing the negative side of it. If I try and talk about it, a huge row breaks out and simply ends in him telling me to leave him alone. He usually starts going on about my position at work too and how I think I'm important at home because of my job. 

If anyone has any advice I'd be very very grateful. 

 

Thank you 

Edited by Lemon24
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Perhaps he can join a community organization, volunteer for charity and do something.  It sounds like he's bored just being a house husband. 

He's pinning the blame on you which is gaslighting. 

He needs to get a life outside the house to prevent his depression from getting worse.  He needs outlets.

When you're not at work, how about being with friends in a group so both of you can have a social life?  (Safely, of course.) 

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Sorry you're going through this. I'm not clear from your post whether husband was complaining that he's been alone, or stating that he prefers some alone time in his day? 

In the first part of the post you mention feeling guilty, but in the second part it sounds as though you're feeling rejected.

Aside from that, I would avoid any discussion that he might interpret as you 'assigning' or prescribing any changes for him. I'd serve him a 'love sandwich,' where you compliment, then follow with a statement about your concern, then close with another layer of compliment.

For instance, "While being home with you, it has struck me how much I tend to miss you during the day. I also wonder how you feel about being home alone, and I wonder what kinds of things might make you happy, because I love you--and I want you to feel happy."

Then listen to his response without any interruptions. If you think he's done answering, stay quiet for a while longer and see if it prompts anything more from him. If he responds badly, let it lie with his own words being the thing he'll reflect on from the convo.

Maybe we can be of more help with more info. 

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10 hours ago, Lemon24 said:

  If I try and talk about it, a huge row breaks out and simply ends in him telling me to leave him alone. 

Then follow his advice and leave him alone. He doesn't want to be fixed or nagged.

The problem is you're home for vacation and getting on each other's nerves.

It's you who needs to get out of the house with friends and hobbies.

Since he has medical problems and is retired (not househusband), stop bugging him. If he chooses to sit around in front of the TV all day so what? It's only bothering you now that your mulling around the house.

The real issue is that you mistakingly believed a 20 year age gap would never matter. Too late now so just leave him be and manage your own time.

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If this is only happening during your holiday, it's just a change to the norm and you're having too much time together. It's a disruption of his routine. It's your holiday, so do what you would enjoy outside of the house and invite him along. If he doesn't want to go, go by yourself or invite a friend.

I thought after my mother died, who was disabled and could rarely leave the house, that my dad would like to get out and about, so I planned to take him to several places. He usually ended up being grumpy. He's always been more of a homebody, so I now don't feel guilty about not asking him to go places with me as much. Sometimes we project onto others our own false perceptions.

If he makes a complaint, ask him what he would see as a solution to the problem.

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Maybe some couples counseling may be in order.  Suggestions might be better received from a third party.

This seems to be brewing for some time.  It's only become more apparent with you around more during this time off.   What happens when you retire?  What will be waiting for you then?

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18 hours ago, Lemon24 said:

that he is making a point that he's been left all day alone. For the past few months I've taken some guilt for this

First off he is not a pet, he is a human that is capable of going out and engaging with the world so how is it your responsibility to take him for a walk so to speak?

  This is his problem but since you are a couple it is yours as well.

Instead of talking to him about this why not ask questions.

"You have mentioned being alone all day several times, what would you like to do to change that?"

"What interests do you have?"  "Volunteering?" "Gardening" "Photography" "Bird watching" "Motorcycles" "DIY home projects" "Restoring a car or furniture"

 When someone is not productive their feeling of self worth  can drop dramatically and that is why he seems to resent you for being productive and an opinion.

You cannot make him be productive or get back to living a life instead of just existing but you can prime the pump a little and see if it takes.

 Lost

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You have disrupted his peace so of course there is going to be tension. Instead of criticizing him about how he likes to spend his retirement, why not invite/include him in an activity or outing that would be fun. Go on a wine tour together, or hit the casino, hop on a bus and go on a tour, plan a cruise, dress up nice and go for dinner, etc. Don't over load him or start planning his day, just do something once in awhile that's comfortable for him. And do go do something on your own for balance. Go out shopping with a GF, get a pedicure, hit the spa, have some me time so he can have the house to himself. The only thing you should be talking about is what he would like to do on Saturday, or plan a trip or how nice the weather has been, what would he like for dinner. No partner likes their other half knit picking at them. Not the kind of conversation most wouldn't like. Lighten up, and the atmosphere will definitely lighten.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hmmmm, I dont understand this. So he doesn't do much beyond doing the daily to do's and you keep suggesting he do something else other than what he is doing? 

He sounds like he is feeling perhaps judged or attacked. 

Why not set up an activity to do together? Put that romance back in action. 

Sounds like he's going through something and sinces hes retired set in some ways and you trying to change that is not going to go over well no matter how you do it.

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On 7/15/2022 at 4:20 PM, Lemon24 said:

Good evening everyone,

I'm looking for some advice as I'm finding things difficult at the moment. To give you some background, I'm married and my husband is considerably older than me by more than 20 years. This has not been an issue before and I will say people always comment how young he seems for his age and outlook etc.

He is retired and I work. For the last decade it's been like this and worked well. He seems to enjoy his retirement and is happy to take the role of a house husband.

However, I'm now on holiday from work and some things have struck me. He mentions a lot how he is usually on his own all day most of the year. It is said in jest but I'm beginning to realise from some other things that have been said, that he is making a point that he's been left all day alone. For the past few months I've taken some guilt for this, but while I've been off I'm beginning to think actually this is not all my fault. I have my career and need to work. He has the opportunity to go out and male the effort to meet people or socialise but is choosing not to. 

This leads me to my other point. In the few days I've been off I've realised how very boring his day is. After doing some errands he basically sits and watches Netflix, does some games or reads. He sometimes goes for a coffee but doesn't have any regular friends. 

We have had a few silly arguments while I've been off. He says I'm constantly undermining him when we have a conversation but in my eyes, I'm simply replying with a response or opinion. He says this makes his opinion then invalid as I think I'm more important than him. It's all been very much bickering and is very tiring. He says everything that is done or decisions that are made are all with me having the final word and it's simply not true. 

I really think he's forgotten the art of conversation or being around people. I really really want to talk to him properly about the situation as the bickering is getting to me, he says he's frightened to say anything because I argue etc but I really don't. I just want to get along and enjoy the holiday time but it's constant stress with his attitude. 

I'm desperate for him to get a hobby or something to occupy his time. He has suffered badly from depression in the past and I can see this rearing again if things aren't sorted. Activity wise sport isn't really an option as he has COPD but there seems to be an overall lack of effort to do anything and then blame everyone else. He says he's absolutely fine being on his own but I just don't agree, I'm seeing the negative side of it. If I try and talk about it, a huge row breaks out and simply ends in him telling me to leave him alone. He usually starts going on about my position at work too and how I think I'm important at home because of my job. 

If anyone has any advice I'd be very very grateful. 

 

Thank you 

 

 I've been in a very similar position and my regret is being too sympathetic. So, I'm going to tell you what I wish I would have said. Take from it what you will..

Don't belittle my job. You're belittling me. I'm not undermining you. If anything, it's the other way around. If you were "fine", you would not be complaining and picking fights. You would find a hobby, a part time job on the computer or help around the house. But you'd rather whine and moan and make everyone around you miserable. 

I love you. I will be as understanding and helpful as I can. But I've reached my breaking point and have no sympathy for a man who won't help himself and has no consideration for how I feel.

Or something to that effect.

 

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Well I think what is important is to establish whether it's your husband that actually wants to get a new hobby, meet people, etc., or whether YOU want him to do those things.

When he mentioned that he's on his own all day, did he say that to you in an accusing way? Does he have a problem with being alone all day? If he does have a problem with it then he can't really blame you for it because you choose to work and he chose to retire. Also it's understandable if he's 20 + years older than you that you are of an age where people still work. 

I think the best approach might be not to push him and tell him: "You need to do this and this" but just to discuss with him how he's feeling about being alone all day. What kind of personality does your husband have? Like, is he outgoing or more homebody? There are actually people who are a homebody and although it looks like they're not really doing anything, they're actually happy with that.

I also think when someone retires, maybe it's because they don't want a busy lifestyle anymore and they actually want to live a more relaxing life. I wouldn't say that running errands, watching Netflix, going for coffee, games, are literally "doing nothing". I think the main thing is that the person is actually enjoying what they're doing.

That's very unfortunate that your husband doesn't really have any friends. Do you know why that is? Is it by choice because he's not that social or was it circumstantial? There are many opportunities to meet new people like volunteering, social groups, classes, Meetup groups. He should choose things he likes though because otherwise he might not enjoy them.

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