Dilemma: my retired husband is now telling me how to run the home

Katharine Whitehorn / 26 April 2016

A reader writes to agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn because her recently retired husband has become bossy and is telling her how to run the home, even though she has been doing it well for years.

Dilemma: bossy retired husband

Now that my husband has retired we have more time to be together, but it’s getting me down. 

He follows me round the house, asks me what I am doing, quite often tells me how I ought to be doing it. He gets underfoot and can be quite bossy.

It’s absolutely maddening because I’ve been running the house perfectly well for years and when he was working he left me to it and didn't do much to help or ever tell me I was doing it wrong. 

How can I get him to leave me alone and stop interfering with how the home is run?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

You have to look at this from his point of view: he always knew how he should run his life – until recently. 

Now he’s trying to make you fill the place that used to be occupied by the friends – or not even friends, just colleagues – he had at work. Somehow I think you must help him to do more of his own thing; undertake voluntary work, take up golf (I never thought I’d ever find myself advising that), start a course in something, join a camera club, get an allotment – anything to provide a new interest.

And maybe there are things around your home that he could take over. Many a retired man has turned into a really good cook; if you’ve always done the garden because he was too busy, you could get him going on redesigning it, not just mowing the lawn. 

We’re living so much longer these days that we have to find things to occupy the extra years; I quite understand why you want to throttle him, but you’ll have to help him adjust or you’ll go crazy.

Related: finding a new sense of purpose in retirement

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