I Feel Fed Up with My Obsessively Meticulous Neat Freak Husband

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my late 60s. My husband is a meticulous neat freak. Since my husband reached his mandatory retirement age and left his job, he has become even more obsessive as he ages.

He voluntarily cleans our house and does other household chores, but I’m an easygoing person compared to him and I’m even sloppy sometimes.

My husband feels unhappy with my personality and instructs me every day about numerous things, such as the correct way to clean the entrance floor with a broom and how to take off slippers.

Though what is best for him is not necessarily what is best for me, he always tells me, “Do it this way,” and “Do it that way.” His choice of words annoys me.

My husband does not eat out or take trips. When I told him I get lunch with my friends, he asked me, “How can you afford it?”

My friends can go on trips and attend music concerts, but I’m left thinking, “Why is my husband like this?” And I have the growing urge to divorce him.

I want to spend the rest of my life enjoyably and freely, totally in line with my desires. I want to live without having to worry what he thinks.

— D, Gunma Prefecture

Dear Ms. D:

During the Showa era (1926-89), it was common for a married couple to spend only a short period of time together after retirement until one of the two would pass away.

However, now many people live until they are around 100 years old. You have entered the second phase of your life and the time has come for you to rebuild your relationship with your husband.

I know a homemaker who began living alone and renting an apartment in the same neighborhood as her house after turning 60.

Her relationship with her husband is not bad, but she fully enjoys living alone for the first time in her life. She says she sometimes visits her house and has meals together with her husband and their daughter who is a working adult.

You, too, can live the remaining part of your life just the way you are. If living together with your husband is stressful, you don’t necessarily need to divorce, and you can enjoy living separately. I think it’s good for you to aim for a kind of “graduation” from married life.

However, you should be careful about money and how you propose this option to your husband. If you have enough money, living separately can be an option. But if this is difficult, you need to propose to your husband that each of you be allowed to live in your preferred ways and find a point of compromise with him.

Also, why not try working outside the home, even for a short time, or engaging in community activities?

By doing so, your husband may change a little.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor