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Is a generation of women living with Grumpy Old Men?

living with a grumpy old manArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

I recently attended an event all about financial wellbeing in later life. It was an event which highlighted the contribution over adults made to the UK economy – in fact the over 65s spend more than £100 billion a year.

Most of the research shared and discussed highlighted income, level of debt, spending etc. from the age of 50 upwards. It also looked at how financial security and personal circumstances contributed to personal wellbeing. To be honest, there were no surprises in the findings that those who were financially secure and had strong personal relationships and a good social circle were generally happy with their lot in life. There were some serious issues highlighted – such as the fact that most women are financially ill prepared for retirement – but I will cover that in a separate post!

Women seemed to feel unhappy in their relationships when they reached 65

However, there was one line, buried on the last line of one of the 59 slides which I did find interesting – both genders saw being in a relationship at 50 as a positive thing, but seems that although men at 65 still saw being part of a couple as positive, women at 65 started to feel negative about being part of a couple! So why, at 65, were women saying that they were now less happy being part of a couple? Unfortunately when asked by the member of the audience if this could be expanded upon, the researcher was unable to do so as he grasped for answers and came up with none.

Grumpy Old Men

All the women in the audience were amused – ‘grumpy old men’ was the phrase being bandied about. But were there other issues at play. Were women finding themselves increasingly taking on the role of carer, for both partner and parents? Were they perhaps soaring in their own lives while husbands and partners were looking for a quieter life at home?

I mentioned this to my own mother after the event. She immediately responded with ‘That’s an easy one to answer!’ According to my mother, from her own experience and that of her friends, she described the scenario of an army of women quite happily conducting their daily lives, managing their homes, perhaps working, meeting friends for lunch, seeing their own children and grandchildren until suddenly their husbands retire. They are home – they want to know what the plan for the day is. They want lunch made for them. Suddenly your time is no longer your own. You have to adjust. Add to that the fact that the men who have in all likelihood had their whole identity tied up with work, once that is gone they are having to find themselves and adjust to their new lives too.

So is this the reason why women at 65 in this particular study ( by the International Longevity Centre)  suddenly seemed dissatisfied with their lot? Is it due to adjusting to the pressures of having a partner present 24/7 , or are there other aspects which contribute? I would love your thoughts and opinions on this one !!

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Janie Emaus

    March 10, 2014

    I sort of agree with this. I’m happy to meet with friends, see my daughter, spend time with my grandchildren and my mom. Whereas my husband likes a lot of quiet time. Me? I’m ready to get out and see the world.

  2. Carol Cassara

    March 10, 2014

    This describes my current marital situation exactly. I had so much more time before he retired! But I’ve begun reclaiming it.

  3. Doris Russell

    March 10, 2014

    I really had to adjust to my husband being home. There were problems. I found that even though I wanted a companion I really missed having my alone time. It’s working out better in that he helps with the housework.
    However sometimes I don’t want a house husband. He ends up telling you how to do housework and rearranging your cabinets.

  4. facebook_anne.arnott.16

    March 10, 2014

    This can happen to people before this age , as for instance if your husband travels for work and is not at home a lot and then , they are on leave for awhile , We , the wives have got used to our routines and they want us to change it when they are home. My husband works away and I change my lifestyle to be there for him when he is at home, , not all the time but it is difficult.

  5. Mandy

    March 15, 2014

    There is an old wives’ saying which my 92 year old mother has regularly told me – ‘I married you for life, but not for lunch’ – women find retired husbands’ demands on their time very tiring and debilitating – a garden shed is required – at the very least – for men who are able to potter and entertain themselves! Luckily I am a little older than my husband and he is not yet retired….

  6. Kathleen O'Donnell

    April 17, 2014

    I think it can be tough in retirement. Men often define themselves by their careers. When those end it’s hard for them to feel fulfilled. The empty nest leaves women with not as much to worry about and regardless of how far feminism has come I think women love to nurture. It’s hard often when there’s no kids to nurture anymore. I think the expectations are different from both partners. My mom was go person, my stepdad was a stay person. It’s a good idea to talk to each other before retirement to find out what each person wants, expects, and is looking for.

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