I’m in my 80s, but my wife is telling me to pack up, get out

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 80s, living on a pension, but my wife has told me to move out.

I’m grateful to my wife for dedicating herself to our family for many years. She devoted herself to raising our children and was taking care of my mother in her final days.

However, it seems my mother was cruel to her at the start of our marriage, saying: “I worked hard to build this house. Hurry up and get out.”

My mother didn’t mention anything to me, and when my wife talked to me about it at the time, I didn’t do anything. I assumed it was a common problem between a wife and her mother-in-law.

Over the past few years, my wife has been saying: “You’ve never done anything for me. You’re not qualified to be my husband. Get out.”

I’m getting older and I have absolutely nowhere to go.

Throughout my career as a company employee, I’ve been a good member of society and haven’t done anything unethical. I believe I’ve always done my share of the household chores and have worked hard every day.

I want to spend the rest of my life with my wife, whom I believe I’m meant to be with.

—A, Tokyo

Dear Mr. A:

Your wife must be feeling incredibly frustrated to ask her elderly husband to move out. I think your wife has put up with a lot for a long time.

You have high praise for your wife’s dedication, but you can’t just continue to do nothing. I think what she is trying to say is that if you were truly her husband, you would understand how she feels.

If you don’t understand and choose to keep sitting there being confused, the situation will not improve. I think you have to show her how much work you’re willing to put in.

First of all, you need to apologize. Don’t make excuses for your past behavior, which your wife resents. Just listen to everything she has to say. Then, let her know how grateful you are by saying, “You have had to deal with a lot and dedicated yourself to our family.”

Don’t think about what might be convenient for you. Clearly let her know the feelings you have for her by saying, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Don’t say that you have nowhere to go. Instead, show her that you’re prepared to accept her wishes by saying that you are ready to live on your own if that is what she wants.

On top of that, you should fully discuss financial and other household matters with your wife. While the two of you are talking, carefully listen to what your wife wants and use it as an opportunity to build a new relationship with her.

After reading your letter, I think that your wife is generally a very kind and thoughtful person.

I wish you the best.

— Megumi Hisada, writer