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Retired husband syndrome

 Retired husband syndrome (主人在宅ストレス症候群 Shujin Zaitaku Sutoresu Shoukougun?, literally One's Husband Being at Home Stress Syndrome)[1](RHS) is a psychosomatic, stress related illness  which has been estimated to occur in 60% of Japan's older female population.[2] It is a condition where a woman begins to exhibit signs of physical illness and depression as their husband reaches, or approaches, retirement.[2] 

Common symptoms

The following are some of the common symptoms of RHS:[2]

Theorized reason for RHS

  This syndrome was identified and coined by Dr. Nobuo Kurokawa[2] and first appeared in a presentation of his to the Japanese Society of Psychosomatic Medicine in 1991.[3] It is a condition where a woman begins to exhibit signs of physical illness and depression as their husband reaches, or approaches, retirement.[2]

Dr. Kurokawa has theorized that RHS is a result of the fact that many of Japan's citizens who are reaching retirement age, 60,[2] are members of the Baby Boomer generation of Japan. The members of this generation were expected to meet certain social requirements: that the man should be the breadwinner and work to support his family, and the woman was to be not only a homemaker but also to show a level of adoration for her salaryman husband as reward for his bringing in the money she used to look after their children and socialize with her friends.[2][3]

As the husband's career as a salaryman can demand long hours away from home, both working and socializing with other salarymen and their bosses as is expected, a husband may leave home in the early hours of the morning and return home late at night.[2][3] This could mean that a husband and wife may not interact extensively and when a husband retires both members of the couple can feel they are living together with someone who is a virtual stranger.[3]

This can be a particularly stressful experience for the woman who, as society dictated in her youth, is expected to attend to her husband's every need and can find this a very large demand indeed.[3] The stress this change in life style brings can lead not only to the above listed symptoms,[2] but also to a level of resentment felt toward her husband.[3] Some couples have been known to separate over RHS, however divorce is uncommon as it is not considered an acceptable option for that generation of Japanese.[2][3] Also currently an ex-wife has no rights to a portion of her husband's pension should they get divorce, and therefore may be unable to survive financially (though this is set to change in 2007).[2]

Some women deal with RHS by focusing their energy on obsessions such as collecting teddy bears, or following a celebrity,[2] which they say can help them psychologically. They may also ask their husbands to stay on at work past retirement age.[2] Many wives do not tell their husbands what is happening[2] and this can worsen the stress as their husbands may not understand or even realize their wives are RHS sufferers.[2] [3]


  1. ^ Retired husband syndromeあるいは「主人在宅ストレス症候群」 [医学・科学関連] (Japanese language) (November 15, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-11-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Kenyon, Paul. "Retired husband syndrome", BBC News, This World, BBC, November 13, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Faiola, Anthony. "Sick of Their Husbands in Graying Japan", The Washington Post, October 17, 2005. Retrieved on 2006-11-29. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Retired_husband_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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