Monday, March 14, 2011

Retired Husband Syndrome

An interesting article by a male reporter. Pretty funny, I thought.

I've often wondered what one can do after retirement.

Enjoy this read!

Straits Times 13 Mar 2011
By Marc Lim

Retirement.

It's the one thing almost all working adults look forward to. Whether you're a CEO or a blue-collar worker, there's something cathartic about being finally able to put your feet up and not worry about meetings, deadlines and bosses.

Instead, it's time for doting on the grandchildren; time to pick up a hobby; time to enjoy all that CPF money that has finally come your way.

But, if the views of a growing number of women are to be believed, dealing with the retirement of their husbands has increasingly become more of a pain.

A family friend, whose husband recently called it a day from his banking job, complained: 'It's as if he's suddenly become the woman in the marriage. He nit-picks, complains when things don't go according to his liking and even throws tantrums.'

Apparently, this 'infliction' plaguing men is so widespread that there is even a term for it.

'It's called RHS - Retired Husband Syndrome,' said an aunt who has been trying to live with its ill effects for years.

It stems from a generation of retired men who are struggling to deal with the idea of the new retired women. Previously, the role of women hardly changed even when they hit their 60s - since most of them were housewives to begin with anyway.

But the babyboomers generation saw more women joining the men in the workforce. A number of them, like their husbands, also took on senior management roles. When they retire, they have their own interests and hobbies.

Said another aunt: 'The men don't understand that it's no longer like their mothers' generation. We volunteer, do church work, serve on committees, go for high teas, have manicures. It's our time, too. We don't want to spend our retirement years being bossed around - most of the times unreasonably.'

Almost always, say the wives, the retired husbands' need to feel important at home leads to unnecessary drama and tension. My aunt cites an example of how she and her friends went on a short trip together, only to return to a home she barely recognised.

My uncle, who enlisted the help of their maid, saw the need to reorganise the storeroom and kitchen - and ended up throwing away things that he deemed surplus to requirements.

Among the items that were thrown away included bags of clothes that were supposed to be given to charity and pots and pans which had been passed down generations.

Said my aunt: 'Things that were stored in a corner of the store room, things that he never knew even existed, suddenly became a problem overnight, just because he had nothing better to do.'

Such conflict in the silver years is set to affect even more people as Singapore ages.

A recent research report from Swiss banking giant UBS found that Singapore is set to be the world's third-fastest ageing nation, as the proportion of those aged 65 and above will double to 20 per cent in 2020.

A greying Singapore could also see grey skies hover over many a household.

My aunt said to me: 'Your generation will have it even worse if man and wife don't come to a compromise. Women of your generation are more capable, they won't be content to sit around at home to be at their husbands' beck and call.'

Her suggestion is for men to take up a hobby. 'Go take up golf, learn flying, just anything to keep you out of the house,' she said, half in jest.

I brought the issue of Retired Husband Syndrome up with several of my uncles. And while they stopped short of admitting they were the cause of unnecessary tension at home, they offered their side of the story.

An uncle said: 'We, too, would love to hang out with the boys all the time, take trips overseas for golf. But do you think the wives would be happy? They complain that we're out so much. So to avoid conflict, we stay home.'

Added another uncle, who worked as an engineer: 'But once at home, you can't expect us to do nothing. We spent our lives finding solutions to problems, making sure things are efficient, so if we spot something not quite right at home, it's only natural that we fix it.'

It may be 30 years till I hit retirement age, but I reckon I should start preparing. And I think I've found the perfect way to keep myself busy, keep out of my future spouse's hair, yet be in a fixed location so that she is aware of my whereabouts.

I'm taking up mahjong.

Probably a great time for gardening, methinks. 
Look at my large curry plant, by the way. It used to be so little..

4 comments:

Malar said...

This is very true!
I hope i won't be such a person once get old! hahahhaaa...

milka said...

I read your post but did not comment earlier. Im working in an old folk's centre (admin) and i meet lotza different (funny) character old ppl everyday. It is true that we must take up a hobby when we get old, and mahjong is good to exercise your brain :)

Lrong said...

Pretty hilarious article... I have about 12 more years to work before I start making my missus go nuts... hahaahaaa... am looking forward to it...

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Oh.. I hope I find things to do when I retire! I can think of dancing and gardening for now..

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