You're not going to like this, fellows.
You're going to have to listen more if you want to age well.
And you're going to have to talk.
That may have been the bitterest pill offered at a "Men Aging Well" seminar Friday afternoon at the Hilton Head Island Senior Center.
"I have yet to find a real psychic couple," said Paul W. Anderson, a family psychologist practicing in Bluffton, in his lecture called "Why My Wife is Always Mad at Me."
That means the man is going to have to listen to the woman and talk to her about stuff she's interested in.
And she's going to have get over the notion that, "If he loved me, he would KNOW I like dark chocolate, and if he has to ask, I don't even want it."
Anderson said, "If you're not going to read minds, then what?"
You pay attention. You talk. You open up. You make yourself vulnerable.
Figure out what it was that attracted you to each other to begin with. Some wives want to check the DNA to see if this guy's the same one she married.
"Take her hand and start dating and courting her again," Anderson said. "Courtship after marriage is much more important than before marriage."
You're going to have to talk on a daily basis. Once a week means there's too much catching up to do.
I've seen old couples sit in a restaurant and never say a word to each other during the whole meal.
Anderson and two other presenters said that comes with age.
Andrew Kohlhepp, whose Transitions Life Coaching and Counseling practice for men is on Hilton Head, said it's tough for retirees.
"For men, a job is who we are," he said. "I had 100 employees paid to agree with me."
Women get this new THING in the house when the husband retires. Who is that man staring blankly into the refrigerator? I've been running this place for 50 years, thank you. Who are you to decide what we'll have for dinner?
Our columnist Katie Callahan once wrote about this unfortunate time of life going on in homes all across Beaufort County.
On Hilton Head, she found herself longing for "the impeccable grandeur of the kitchen where I could simmer and stew and sautè. I could braise and poach and broil. I could fry and bake. I could do these things in serene solitude, with nobody coming in and out to ask what I was doing."
Life becomes a pretty tough deal, said the experts who have heard so many of our stories. A lot of unfinished business between man and wife comes out when the kids are gone, the business is sold and they face each other.
They lose spouses, friends, family members and their health.
Anderson said, "Anger will not kill you."
Ironically, he said, it is the only emotion our society allows a man to show.
And it shows a couple still connecting. But there has to a better connection.
"Learn to stand in the heat," Anderson said. "Take the first step. Don't wait on your wife to do her part before you do your part."
The other thing men aging well do is get off the sofa and turn in the remote.
Shelly Hudson, a certified health coach with the Sungate Medical Group in Bluffton, said, "Exercise is the closest thing you're going to find to the fountain of youth.
"This is the magic pill that nobody wants to take."
She said 75 percent of chronic diseases are preventable.
The best exercise? What you want to do. "The kind you're going to do," she said.
Some rules of thumb on eating:
"Eat real food. Mostly plants. And not too much."
"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper."
"Make your plate colorful (with fruits and vegetables). Half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter of the plate should be lean protein and a quarter whole grains."
"Skip coffee; drink the water."
Kohlhepp pointed our room full of geezers toward the meaning of life.
Study a 12-step program, or go if you qualify. It has the right steps to success, he said.
Be still. Shut it all down for at least an hour a week. Do yoga, Tai Chi, deep breathing, meditation. Surrender. That doesn't mean quitting. It means to accept, to allow, to receive. Pick your battles. Shut up. Accept yourself as you are. Have humor. Talk about things other than your ailments.
He quoted Viktor E. Frankl on the meaning of life: "To help others find meaning in their life."
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.