Retired Husband Syndrome

Retired Husband Syndrome—the term was coined in 1984 by Dr. Charles Clifford, who, writing in the Western Journal of Medicine, described wives of the newly retired who said things like “I’m going nuts” and “he’s under my feet all the time.”

Clifford said these women reported “headaches, depression, agitation, palpitations and lack of sleep.”

Evidently, the condition is prevalent in Japan, too, where they have their own name for it (Shujin Zaitaku Sutoresu Shoukougu), which loosely translates One’s Husband Being at Home Stress Syndrome.”

There’s even a book about it. Miriam Goodman wrote “Too Much Togetherness” in 2011.

So I decided to address the topic head-on.

“Honey,” I asked her. “Do you have retired husband syndrome?”


“Am I under your feet all the time?”

“Of course not.”

“Now run along and make sure you get everything on that list—don’t forget the mail. I’ll be at my sister’s.”

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