Married Life
A sense of humor helps in old age

How to cope when your spouse becomes grumpy

A sense of humor helps in old age
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"How to cope when your spouse becomes grumpy"
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When a husband or wife gets old and grumpy, unfortunately you cannot trade him/her in for a new, less grumpy model. Well, actually, you could, but hopefully your affection for the old codger, or codgeress, would dictate the wisdom of simply learning to live graciously with the old grouch.

Everyone becomes testy at times in their old age. If health is not up to par, that can put a person in a grumpy mood.

Men are especially prone to becoming negative and grumpy after they retire. It is a huge letdown to feel like you have been "put out to pasture," or relegated to the "back burner." Self-esteem can take a dive when one realizes he is no longer a pivotal player in the game of life.

Women have similar issues. Their children used to come to them for advice and information. Now those same children are dispensing advice to their own children, and Grandma feels somewhat useless and unimportant. Compound those feelings with the natural slowing down process of old age and it is easy to see how griping and complaining can become a habit.

Whatever the reason for a person becoming difficult, there are ways to mitigate the unpleasantness and live graciously with a grumpy old husband or wife:

Maintain a sense of humor

When your partner spends much of his time in a bad mood it is easy to be brought down yourself. Make a conscious effort to keep humor in the relationship. Watch humorous and lighthearted programs on television. Have upbeat music playing softly in the background during meals. Bring to his attention funny jokes and articles in the newspaper.

On rare occasions you might even get away with teasing your grumpy spouse out of a dark mood. If you can discern that he is being grumpy more out of habit than because something is really bothering him, you might cajole him into a better mood.

Encourage your spouse to exercise

Exercise is not only a healthy physical benefit, but it can lift spirits and lighten moods as well. Go for daily walks with your spouse. In the winter, walk the indoor mall or go to the local recreation center and walk the indoor track.

While you are walking together, practice deep-breathing. Encourage your spouse to walk the dog. Even that small purpose will increase self-esteem.

Encourage your spouse to join a gym, do weightlifting, take a swimercize class, or any other exercise activity with a social component.

Acquire a pet

If you don't have a pet, consider getting one. Watching a cat or dog at play is amusing and entertaining. Individuals who have difficulty relating to other people will sometimes let their guard down and show great affection for an animal.

The burden of caring for a pet could potentially be offset by the enjoyment of pet ownership. Caring for a pet can also restore a nurturing feeling and restore a positive outlook.

Communicate through active listening

When couples have been married for a long time, they often fall into careless communication. Daily routines are so second nature, there is a tendency for mutual conversation to dwindle. Begin each new day by talking together over breakfast about what the day might have in store.

If you have reason to contact your grown children, let your spouse make the call. If you receive a call from family, after having your conversation, pass the phone to your spouse. Women, in particular, tend to take the lead in social connections and this can leave a spouse feeling left out.

Prompt your spouse to share feelings and reminisce about the earlier days of your life together. Pull out the photo albums and home videos to nudge the memory. Just seeing evidence that life has been full and well spent might coax a person out of grumpiness.

Pay attention to health issues

Whenever someone becomes grumpy, and that was not his personality in earlier years, it behooves you to look for underlying reasons related to health.

Ensure that meals are nutritious and healthy. Check your mattress for wear and tear. A good night's sleep is imperative for good health and good moods. Avoid dehydration for both of you by drinking plenty of water.

Get regular medical checkups, including dental, vision and hearing. Sometimes a grumpy spouse is suffering from neglect in one of those areas of good health.

Make sure your family doctor rules out any serious disorders that are generally accompanied by change in personality, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases.

If you have considered your spouse's grumpy demeanor from every conceivable angle and conclude that he/she has simply become a grouch in old age, as a last resort, try hug therapy.

When a person is difficult, sometimes he/she just needs a hug.

More about this author: Carol Gioia

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