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A really saddening conversation with a stranger today

(53 Posts)
RippingYarns Tue 24-Sep-13 20:15:43

I had a Drs appt today, and was sat, alone in the waiting room

An elderly couple came in and sat beside me, the woman immediately next to me, the man the other side of her.

He was called to his appt and she turned to me (complete stranger) and said

(paraphrasing here, but details correct) 'Ah..I can now enjoy a few moments peace while he's out of my hair. Since he's retired he won't leave me alone to do my thing. He thinks we should do everything together, that I want his company 24hrs a day. I used to get up at 4.30 to take him to work, I liked that, it meant I had an early start to my day and I could please myself. I didn't want it to be like this, I loved working, I loved the independence it gave me. I loved my own retirement a few years ago, and the different independence that also gave me. Now the person I chose to spend the whole of my life has ruined it.I haven't seen my friends since the day he stopped work, he wants to do everything with me. I don't want to do that'

Then her DH came back, and they left. She looked over her shoulder as the went out of the door, and waved at me, gave a small smile.

Now, DH and I are nowhere near our own retirement, but I'd hate to feel like that. I don't want to feel like the 'best years' are when a woman can have her own job etc, but on retirement is given over to pleasing her partner to the detriment of her own happiness.

Not even sure this is a feminist issue, but am more interested in a feminist viewpoint of this.

Sad isn't it?

TheOrcHeadKeeper Tue 24-Sep-13 20:24:43


It's sad she feels she can't just talk to him about it.

CakesAreNotTheAnswer Tue 24-Sep-13 20:25:02

Sad for both of them. Sad that she is sacrificing herself and sad that he isn't taking this opportunity to really live his life - take up a hobby or do something.
DH and I are looking forward to that dim and distant future where we can spend more time together, but we'll need joint and individual hobbies and interests or we'll just kill each other.

Oh god that is so depressing

TheOrcHeadKeeper Tue 24-Sep-13 20:27:32

^ And my grandparents (in their late 60s no, been retired for almost 10 years) both do quite a lot separately then meet up again in the afternoon/evening and have that too, and seem very happy for it.

The more I think about what she said the sadder it actually seems.

PractialJoke Tue 24-Sep-13 20:33:07

I know a number of men who worked well behind retirement age because they couldn't face the thought if being with dw all day!

Its a massive transition and to be expected that both parties need time to adjust and decide what the new normal is. I bet he'd only been retired a few weeks

ThisIs Tue 24-Sep-13 20:33:30

I read an article once that says the divorce rate in Japan increases massively after the husbands retire.

They work such long hours, so their wives get used to them not being around and doing their own thing. When the husband retires he doesn't know what to do with himself and gets under his wife's feet.

It's a bit sad really.

BasilBabyEater Tue 24-Sep-13 20:38:37

You betcha it's a feminist issue.

At least it is where there is abuse involved.

Since they retired, my aunt's life has become more and more constricted. She's just not allowed out on her own anymore. Even to go to church - my uncle will drive her there and come back when the mass is due to finish 40 minutes later.

He's always been a control freak and an abuser. But now, he's got all the time in the world to devote all his time to it.

The fact that it never occurred to either of them to get her driving lessons, now exacerbates the fact that she is utterly dependent on him for transport - as you get older and frailer, getting on a bus in the face of opposition from your husband, gets harder. All the things which cut you off from friends and life when you were younger, are magnified massively as you get old.

I'm not saying that's the situation for the poor woman you spoke to today, but for women like my aunt, it's the horrible end to a horrible life with control freak men. sad

RippingYarns Tue 24-Sep-13 21:00:33

i would teeter on the edge of calling the snap-shot of their life as abusive, Basil

her whole tone was browbeaten, there was no humour in her words at all

and she chose to tell a stranger - who could do nothing

BasilBabyEater Tue 24-Sep-13 21:05:35


edam Tue 24-Sep-13 21:07:10

Oh Ripping, that's so sad. Poor woman. Maybe it helped her to talk to you - you did a good thing in listening.

Basil, I can believe that about your Aunt, sadly. Family friend of ours, her husband surrendered her driving licence - without telling her until after he did it! Only now he's had a stroke, so he can't drive, so they are both in a pickle. I know he's ill and all but it doesn't stop him being a grade 1 bully.

BasilBabyEater Tue 24-Sep-13 21:32:37

I used to work with old people and so many of them were not allowed to learn to drive "because my old man always said there were enough idiots on the road".

It was a way of keeping them dependent.

CailinDana Wed 25-Sep-13 07:01:35

I see it with my PILs.MIL is an energetic enthusiastic sort of person (sometimes overly so!) whereas FIL is a grumpy racist rude cunt. Once they retired he decreed that they had to move back to a place they had lived 15 years previously. Neither of them has many friends, the village is dull as ditchwater and MIL is bored. I don't know how MIL puts up with it. They do travel a lot which helps. We moved closer to them not long ago which is great but now FIL has decided he won't stay in our house (we live a bit too far for a day trip) but "doesn't like" MIL visiting us on her own

CailinDana Wed 25-Sep-13 07:02:47

MIL is getting more and more worn down by him. It's really sad. I know she'd never leave him.

BranchingOut Wed 25-Sep-13 07:12:18

My father had three daughters and never liked any of us driving - refused to let us practise in the car and if we had lessons, it was up to us to find, arrange and pay for them. My mum had stopped driving years before - apparently for health reasons but I am not totally sure. This was just one of an array of controlling tendencies.

Anyone else rememer all the jokes about 'women drivers' on tv in the 70s and 80s?

Bonsoir Wed 25-Sep-13 07:19:40

I don't think this is a feminist issue, I think it's a relationship issue.

wundawoman Wed 25-Sep-13 07:24:47

Interesting comments about driving/independence. My DM learned to drive in the 1960s under much protest from DF. When she wanted to buy a car, he said she would have to pay for and maintain it herself, as he could not afford it. They had 4 young children at this stage; she was expected to manage without a car??

Anyway years later she relished her independence and drove everywhere, without him!

sashh Wed 25-Sep-13 08:02:29

This was my grandparents, and no there was no abuse, they loved each other as much the day he died as the day they married.

My grandad was just under my Nana's feet, she had her way of cleaning and he was always there.

If she said she was going to the shop he said he would go with her, for the walk, nothing else.

He went back to work part time for a few years, which gave them both time to adjust to him being there sometimes.

I think in their case he had always worked and she mostly stayed at home (she also got a part time job later in life) to look after the children.

He went away to war for a few years, then came back and got his old job back.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 08:11:15

I think most couples go through a difficult patch when the second one retires. It's normal and natural - it's a HUGE adjustment.

Hopefully she will just snap one day (well, I think it's too much to hope she would just sit down and talk to him!!) and explain to him that he'll end up under the patio if he doesn't fuck off that she needs a life of her own some time to herself.

Hopefully our generation will be better equipped to deal with it as we already (mostly) live quite differently and are far better equipped to say fuck off get our needs met.

mrsshackleton Wed 25-Sep-13 09:38:08

It's a very common phenomenon and one of the reasons why divorce is rocketing in the over 65 group, but going down in every other demographic.

Bonsoir Wed 25-Sep-13 14:48:31

I think that being in the same house all day/week/year, year in, year out, with one other adult is a big ask, personally, however much you love one another. It is always best if both partners have a lot of interests outside the home and plenty of breathing space.

BasilBabyEater Wed 25-Sep-13 15:16:05

Really MrsS?

I knew that the fastest growing group of people suing for divorce are women over 50, but I didn't know it was specifically retirees.

I wonder how the figures break down.

I can see why women whose kids have left home (who've stayed "for the sake of the children") would sue for divorce as soon as the last kid's gone, but it's slightly depressing that couples who have been looking forward for years to having more time together, find that when they achieve that, the first thing they want to do is get divorced after all. grin I suppose it vindicates the old saying "be careful what you wish for".

StickEmUp Wed 25-Sep-13 18:23:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Childrenofthestones Thu 26-Sep-13 04:34:16

If she hangs around for a few years the odds are he will die before her like most men do and she can have her life back.

deepfriedsage Thu 26-Sep-13 04:44:41

All those years married and she hasn't learned to communicate, foolish.

SuperiorCat Thu 26-Sep-13 06:05:06

Agree the inability to communicate her wants and needs is a relationship issue. But a lot of that is brought about by women being conditioned to oblige.

Hearing some of these anecdotes makes me feel blessed by my lovely Dad who wanted to make me and dsis as independent and in control of our future as our mother chose not to be.

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