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Are You Still Here? – Retired Husband Syndrome

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You’ve heard the saying “A little goes a long way” And a new study shows they could be talking about time with your spouse.  Amazing as it seems and as much as we think we long to be retired a new study has found that once a couple’s husband retires many women suffer from ‘Retired Husband Syndrome which can present itself in depression, sleeplessness, and elevated stress for both parties.

The latest research comes to us from Italy’s the University of Padova who interviewed 840 Japanese women between 2008 and 2013. They chose Japan because the country is thought to have strong traditional gender roles. Researchers found that with every extra year the husband spent in retirement, the wife’s condition became worse. They said that the affliction does not only affect housewives, but can be even worse for women who are still working while their husbands stay at home.

Amazingly enough, one cause of greater stress for a working woman of a retired husband, according to the study, was that women were faced with an increase in housework, even though Husbands are now at home. Add to that the added burden of reduced income, an extra concern for both partners.

The theory of retired husband syndrome was first established 30 years ago by US doctor Charles Clifford Johnson in 1984. Wives of retired men told him: ‘I’m going nuts’, ‘I want to scream’, ‘He’s under my feet all the time,’ ‘I’m nervous’, and ‘I can’t sleep’. His clinical description of the symptoms of the stress-induced conditions, included: headaches, depression, agitation, palpitations and lack of sleep.

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Not ready to give up? A few things I have read say it helps to…

  • Develop separate hobbies
  • Keep a purpose in your life together and separately
  • Share household chores evenly

Need more?  An article published in USA Today about successful retired couples gave these ideas to get it done happily from the new book, He Wins, She Wins:

Set ground rules to make negotiation pleasant and safe. Do not make demands, show disrespect or become angry when you negotiate. If you reach an impasse where you do not seem to be getting anywhere, stop negotiating and come back later.

Identify the conflict from both perspectives. State the conflict. Use a notebook or smartphone to try to document everything you know about the issue, then describe each others conflicting perspective. Respect is key to success in negotiation.

Brainstorm with abandon. Look for mutually acceptable solutions. You may be tempted to sacrifice, to give into your spouse’s wishes, but that’s not a win-win outcome. Your goal should be mutual happiness with neither of you gaining at the others expense.

Choose the solution that meets the conditions of mutual and enthusiastic agreement. Many problems are relatively easy to solve if you know you must take each others feelings into account.

If that doesn’t do it keep looking there are all kinds of books and counseling available. Don’t brush it off because you worked too long and hard to get here to lose it now.

Just saying.

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