The elderly companion

I came across quite a few “love-less” relationships in some elderly couples recently. They are normally above 60 years of age, retired, spending a lot of time together (if not all the time), and starting to argue within 5 seconds of a “conversation”.

I am not sure if it’s right for me to call them “love-less”. But there does not seem to be anything else, other than complains, arguments, resentment, and even hostility. Sometimes I feel like they are hating each other.

Whenever I try to shift the topics to something else, within a short while, and often without me realising, the topic is again back to the partner, what s/he has done, how s/he hates him/her doing that etc. I observe “loathing” on their faces when they talk about their partner.

“Hmm.. Ok. It appears that you two dislike each other very much, and dislike spending time with each other, and will start arguing once you talk. How about separation? Have you guys considered —” (Normally I don’t get to finish what I intended to say)

“No la! This is normal what! Don’t be silly la! You know how old we are now… It’s normal la, spending time together and arguing. You are young, you don’t know just yet”

Deep down most of them admit that they are no longer able to live the life on their own, without that partner who has been with them for many decades, whether with or without children. “Divorce” never crosses their minds, it can’t be mentioned, they don’t even consider it, as if it will lead to some disaster, socially, familial, morally etc. But they feel miserable with this life of retirement, it was never what they imagined to be (free, joyful, enjoyable etc). Even when they go on holidays, they can argue non-stop.

Other than listening to them, I’m not sure what I can do to help them. They don’t need any medication. They do need some counselling or psychotherapy, but they are not keen to stick to doing homework and learning new skills to communicate better, to manage anger better etc., they think they know better.

But normally, if both are relatively healthy, I’d at least recommend them to spend more time separately, look for their own interests and circles of friend, develop purpose of life of their own. This usually helps, as it indirectly enhances the quality of time they spend together. What say you?

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