The other day, I discovered that the tendency to give orders in the belief that only they have the correct answer isn’t a flaw of just retired males. Apparently it begins at an early age in the male gender, but we may have had fewer occasions to notice it before retirement and living with our spouses 24/7.

Picture, if you will, this scene. Last week my husband, Art, and I were staying with four of our grandsons while their parents took a well-deserved vacation. The oldest, Griff, is 15 and quite helpful. However this evening his and my husband’s desire to “help” became a bit overbearing as I also like to be in charge. With a late change in plans for dinner, my grandson and I decided to use the Bolognese sauce his Mom had thoughtfully prepared. The debate began as I took out a pan to defrost the sauce. Both tried to tell me exactly how I should do it. The discussion continued for close to five minutes––with Griff holding the pan in captivity.  Finally I chimed in saying, “Wait a minute guys, I’ve been doing this cooking gig for 46 years, I know what I’m doing.”

Perhaps it was the number of years I mentioned to this 15 year old who couldn’t possibly imagine doing anything that long, but he and my husband quickly backed off and let me put the sauce in the pan to defrost slowly. A while later, we had a wonderful meal.

I mention this because I hear many wives express frustration with their retired husbands’ inclination to reinvent the way we do things––things many have been doing successfully for eons. After this experience last week, I wonder if such behavior may result from more than their  missing the role of decision maker at work…maybe it’s imbedded in the genes. If so, it might have happened before retirement, but we didn’t notice it as much. It could also be that previously he was too busy to need to make everything “perfect” at home.

An expression I frequently heard during a trip to Ireland was, “It’s worth the question.” Since the thought came to mind in this particular situation I might suggest that if your husband’s critiquing frustrates you, why not ask him why he seems to want to change everything. It could lead to some interesting conversations.

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