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Planning Retirement Online

 

 

Relationships - August 2014

Too much anger

 

Maggi Stamp is a highly qualified relationship counsellor and trainer who writes each month about emotional and practical concerns and challenges that many of us meet in later life. For 20 years, as well as running a private practise, Maggi worked with the organisation Relate to help married and single people, cohabiting couples, same sex couples, families, young and old people and the bereaved to develop, foster and enjoy healthy and fulfilling relationships. No less important, as she is herself a wife, mother and grandmother, she brings a lifetime of varied and eventful experience to enhance her empathy and understanding.  

Many of her examples are based on concerns that clients, family and friends have presented over the years. In the monthly articles where she responds to issues raised by readers, she strictly respects confidentiality and never identifies those who write to her. But the individual worries they raise are invariably felt by others, so her responses can help many.

You can write to Maggi at maggi@laterlife.com for her to respond in the column.



Too much anger

I am so worried about my future. I am still working full time as a teacher and love it. I won't be retiring for some time, but my husband has. He is a little older than me and now does quite a bit of the day to day housework - laundry shopping and vacuuming, leaving me to cook when I get home from school. Before he retired I did it all.

When he started doing all this it was such a help, but now I come home and he is bad tempered and often very unpleasant. Last week we had an argument and he lashed out at me and my lip was cut. It was over something so stupid, like changing the sheets, as it so often is.

I don't understand what is happening, but it scares me a bit. Will it be worse once I stop work?

Safety first... let me emphasise that it is never acceptable or excusable to hit out in the way your husband did. You need to make that clear to him and think about whether anything like it has ever happened before. If it has, and if your husband failed to be shocked at what he did, or didn't apologise immediately, then perhaps you also need to consider having some sort of place of safety, that you can go to if such anger starts to show again. He must know it is absolutely wrong.

It is going to take you a little time to get to the bottom of this I suspect. Something is making your husband very angry and he is taking it out on you.

It is a good feeling when a partner shares the workload involved in running the home, but it can also lead to conflict when things are done differently, either not as thoroughly or so carefully that it takes too long. We all have our individual methods of work and can find it hard to accept another's approach. Is there something which is a bone of contention between you regarding the house?

Sometimes, when a person has not thought about retirement deeply enough it is a shock to the system. The old pattern of life is changed forever, work contacts, friends, colleagues and responsibilities are removed. Although some friendships are continued, most will not and new friendships take time to establish. Is your husband lonely? Is he missing his old work?

Taking on some of the responsibilities for the home is a good way of staying active, maybe forming new friendships and helping support the working partner. I wonder if he is finding that role hard? Maybe it bores him, or it is physically harder than he realised, or that he now sees how hard you have had to work to run the home as well as teach full time. Perhaps he is lonely?

Any combination of these, or even all, could be what has affected him. How you approach that might be a tricky process, especially as you now need to keep safe, given his temper.

Whether a person looks forward eagerly to retiring, or dreads it, it needs careful consideration, planning and discussion with a partner or spouse, before it happens. If done this can clarify hopes or concerns, and prepare people for what is a major life change. For some it is a well earned rest from hard physical or mental work and time spent renewing old contacts or interests, it can release time and energy to travel or help family or others – or even start a new career! But there are people for whom it is a disappointment. Time hangs heavy on their hands and they become bored, or get under the feet of a spouse while trying to tell them how to do jobs the spouse has been doing their own way for years, or they sit around watching tv and become unfit and depressed.

Time to consider what is ahead is time well spent. We all want to stay healthy and enjoy our time as retirees and being honest with yourself and your partner or a friend about what concerns you is a way of getting things in place which might help you make good decisions. The important thing to remember if you are in a relationship is that one retiring partner affects them both. That is why it is vital to negotiate how domestic responsibilities and leisure time are shared.

But here we also have an undercurrent of violent anger. You say you are “a bit scared” now. This cannot be ignored. Have you a close friend you trust, or family nearby? Has anyone noticed your cut lip? Could you talk to them about your concerns? I feel when there has been violence in a relationship there needs to be a third person made aware of what has happened. At the very least , if you don't feel you could say everything, they need to know there might be occasions when you need to come to them for a little while, to allow your husband to cool off and keep you safe. Either this has happened before and you have kept quiet about it, or it is a new thing, either way it is time to think about safety.

It is possible that there has been a change in his health. Unexplained or unnecessary anger could be a symptom of an illness. If he has headaches, or with any other changes in physical health or in behaviour, suggest he checks them out with the GP.

Choose a time to talk to your husband when you know he is calm and content, but not about to go out or watch his favourite tv programme. Tell him how much he frightened and upset you by becoming so angry he was unable to control himself. Make it clear it must not happen again. Ask him what is upsetting him and how he feels you might ease that together. You might ask him how he feels about being at home all day and if there are things he might want to do differently with his time. If you can reach this stage then you are doing well and can repeat this approach regularly until a fresh 'plan' has been defined. Never spend more than an hour talking about it. Having shorter discussions and returning to the subject once both have mulled things over is a good way of proceeding.

If talking at home is a problem then contact Relate to help you both focus on areas of discord or worry.

I recently attended one of the LaterLife courses for retirement preparation. It was in an hotel in a beautiful setting near Bath. There is such a light touch yet thorough attention paid to many of the issues to consider, and all presented in a relaxed, friendly and inclusive way. I recommend it to anyone who is nearing their retirement in the next year or two – and even to those who, like me, and perhaps like your husband, have given up their main work already! Spouses are encouraged to attend if they wish. See our website information for more details of courses up and down the country.

Relate


You can write to Maggi at maggi@laterlife.com for her to respond in the column.


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