Friday, April 12, 2013

Grumpy Old Men: Ladies, it is not your fault!

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 Have you ever wondered if you should pamper your husband? After all, he is working hard and under a lot of pressure.  When the husband turns that certain age when he begins to wonder where his youth had gone, the changes in his life may have his wife wonder what she could do to make him happier. Women will even morph themselves into something they are not just to keep the marriage together. They will take up hobbies they have no interest in learning because they can see that, if they don't participate in his life, some other woman will. 

Really, there is nothing wrong with being aware and making an effort to be a part of the husbands life.  Sometimes we get too comfortable in our relationship with our husbands and blow them off when they want to do something we think is silly. But there is a much deeper issue here. The question might be how responsible is a wife for her husbands happiness? What if the husband that was dealing with midlife issues didn't want to take up a new hobby but was so irritable that he was impossible to live with?

There was an article published on eHow several years ago entitled How to Deal with Grumpy Old Men (the original is not available but here is a similar one.) I could not believe what I had read. The female author was promoting the idea that, when her husband treated her badly, it was because she was doing something wrong. She believed that he would be happy if she just gave him a relaxing back rub or worked harder at not irritating him. 

It all seemed so 1950s to me. But it must not be. When younger women bloggers are giving other women advise on what changes are needed to make their husband happier, there may be a lack of knowledge concerning a deeper problem. I think that if women are doing this, they are doing their husband a real disservice. The husband may not be suffering emotional issues. There may be problem physically.

Grumpy Old Men (film)
Grumpy Old Men (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever heard of andropause. It is a midlife crisis similar to the menopause women endure.  The condition or syndrome is related to the drop in male hormones. The drop begins at the age of 30 and continues at the normal rate of about 10% per decade. The drop is believed to be related to the upswing in the number of grumpy men past the age of 40.

We all know that this is the problem so many married women encounter when their husbands pass middle age. Women are suffering from menopause and begin taking hormones to get through the crisis if it is necessary. They take blame for their husband's behavior because they are so menopausal and unreasonable themselves. But men, unaccustomed to even hearing about their hormone level, are in denial and making everyone miserable both at home and maybe even at work.

A book called The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression by Jed Diamond is a one that is referenced quite often. The author is a psychotherapist practicing in Northern California.  In an interview written for the San Francisco Chronicle he  said,
"The chief response with men is denial," Diamond said in a phone interview from his home. "They say, 'No, I'm not irritable!' to their wife at the dinner table, or, 'Of course I'm irritable! My wife makes me irritable. If she wouldn't do those annoying things, I wouldn't be irritable!' 

I think that women really do believed that if they didn't do those annoying things their husband would be less irritable.  In an article written within the last year for eHow, this was a contributor's  advise for dealing with a cranky husband:
Watch what you say and do, because getting mad or offending him is not a good way to deal with a cranky husband. And remember, he isn't perfect, and neither are you. Have patience, because we all go through cranky spells. He is your husband, your lover and your best friend, so a little patience will go a long way in dealing with his moods.

Read more: How to Deal With a Cranky Husband |
Trust me, when a man suffers from this drop in male hormones, there are not enough back rubs or patience in the world to help! I might add that if either party is displaying abusive behavior, there is something very wrong.

But what is this all about? Does the problem just creep up on the couple at such a slow pace that no one realizes what is going on?  I think so. There are physical signs that go unrecognized because the syndrome is not all that simple. In a news item from they pointed out that depression was not the only symptom. They also mentioned loss of sex drive, lack of energy, increased body fat, loss of strength and body mass and hot flashes. 

Recognizing the symptoms, seeking either the medical help or counseling needed and facing the fact that abusive behavior is a symptom of a deeper problem is key. Even having the discussion about what the problem might be may help. As a woman that has been married for 52 years I can tell you that the work that goes into keeping it all together never goes away. This issue is one that needs to be faced head on or the misery could last a life time.

"If she wouldn't do those annoying things, I wouldn't be irritable!" is not even rational and never has been! The man that said that didn't really mean it...I can't believe that he even heard his own voice. 

It is just a thought!


Note: My husband and I traveled in our RV with an older couple for several years. This lovely man was the most unreasonable, irritable human that ever lived.  His wife suffered his abuse and even tried to change her behavior to keep him happy. This experience made me wonder what was going on. The research I did here was a result of that experience.

I might also add that I am not going to eHow for advice.  It is not reliable...or at least I don't think it is.

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  1. I agree with you. Changing our behavior to dance around a rude man is NOT the answer. I suppose the ability to communicate is, and always will be, the best plan of attack. That- and respect.

  2. Yes, Cheryl, you are so right. Women are so accustomed to keeping the peace that they forget that it is not okay for anyone to treat them like a door mat. Respect is the key I suppose but a good self image helps a lot.


  3. My husband has a short fuse and can be grumpy. I used to tiptoe around. Now I either confront the behavior, or I walk away from it.

    It almost never has anything to do with me, even if he thinks so!

  4. Linda

    I think we get wiser and tougher as we get older. If we Bly knew then what we know now!



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