Hello Caregiver Community:
I have read some of your messages, and feel ashamed that my situation does not concern cancer, MS, Alzheimers, or other very serious illness. My situation concerns the effects of aging on a marriage. My husband and I married in 1975, so for 42 years, but we've been together for 44 years. He was my best friend, lover, husband, and soulmate. My husband retired at 74 from the federal government 2 years ago. I have been retired for many years now, but I do part-time work at our church. After my husband retired, he had prostate surgery, which was very painful and extremely difficult. For 18 months, he suffered much pain "down there" and could not normally function by doing every day chores and activities. He was a couch potato much of the time. He was like a zombie. When he went to work he was very active and alert. Now, he is very forgetful, complacent, apathetic about going out or doing anything with me, his hearing is much worse and he cannot hear me most of the time, he is grouchy, irritable, and loses his temper. He was not like this before he retired. I know that at 76, people do slow down. And I cannot expect him to be the way he was in our earlier years. I am also 13 years younger than my husband, so his age is showing more on our marriage. When I ask him to go to church functions, I know the answer is going to be "No." He likes to stay at home and watch Fox News or CNN to hear the latest on Donald Trump or watch how to grow plants on YouTube. He and I have two daughters, ages 45 and 40. They have their own successful careers, children (our grandchildren), and love their dad very much. We don't see them very much---maybe once a month. Also, my 89 year old father lives with us. We have to take care of him. We make sure he gets good meals and is safe and secure. He fell down a couple of months ago, which caused a lot of problems for him and for us. And, at 89, he still drives, which we don't think he should be doing. He is extremely hard of hearing, but won't use his hearing aids, and says he can hear. So it is not a terrible problem, but I live with two old men. They are both set in their ways, forgetful, almost deaf, and stubborn. I am sad about my husband. I feel lonely. I feel angry that he cannot hear me and I have to repeat things over and over again. I feel frustrated that he is forgetful and does things his way without telling me. The other day, two strangers came to the door asking if there was any handyman work to do. Our house is old, so my husband put them to work. He agreed to pay them $300 to patch up a concrete area out back. They power washed and used a small bag of Quikcrete. They stayed about an hour and then followed my husband to the bank machine, where he gave them $300. He said he made a mistake and won't do it again. Stupid! On retirement income, we cannot afford to give away $300 like that. Those guys took advantage of an elderly man and are probably laughing about it. My husband grew up poor in central Florida, he is a twice combat wounded Vietnam army veteran. He was in the Battle of Ia Drang which was shown in the Mel Gibson movie, "We Were Soldiers." He knew Colonel Moore. My husband was an alcoholic. But he and I both have 27 years of continuous sobriety through the blessings of AA. We have much to be grateful for. So as I write this, I ask myself, "What am I complaining about? Stop whining and count your blessings." But then, another voice says, "I miss my best friend, my lover, and my soulmate." He is changing. He's not there.