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

Katharine Whitehorn / 26 April 2016 ( 05 September 2019 )

A reader writes to Saga 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.

Controlling husband
A reader feels that since her husband retired he has been trying to take over the running of the home

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?

How to retirement proof your relationship

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.

Finding a new sense of purpose in retirement

Saga readers say...

'Delegate everything to him and go meet the girls for lunch!' Linda, via Facebook

'Let him run the house and go do something you enjoy and find more worthwhile.' Susan, via Facebook

'I'm from Yorkshire where a spade is a spade and not a shovel. Many years ago my cousin Doreen's husband once told her she was wasting money by spending too much on the housekeeping. She told him he could do the food shopping in future then. And he had to for the rest of their marriage which was about another 30 years!' G Anne, via Facebook

'Let him get on with it. Go and have lunch and lots of wine with your girlfriends.' Petronella, via Facebook

'Take a month's break and leave him to it.' Yvonne, via Facebook

'Take a well earned rest, and let him get on with it. He can always move out!' Ann, via Facebook

'Go on holiday and just tell him you're popping out.' Wendy, via Facebook

'Take up a great hobby with all your free time!' Marion, via Facebook

'Let him do it and put your feet up!' Jeanne, via Facebook

'I knew a woman years ago that went out and completely rearranged her husband's workshop and garage! That worked perfectly!' Peter, via Facebook

'It sounds as if he’s telling her how to do it rather than actually doing it himself. I think I would tell him to get on with it if he thinks he can do better and then go on strike!' Sue, via Facebook

'Go on a holiday with your friends and let him sort it! But before you go make sure he can't do too much damage - secure documents and valuables - then enjoy...' Breda, via Facebook


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.