Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-pf4mj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-30T01:19:37.064Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Respite, renewal, retirement and tensions: Australian Men's Sheds and the impact on significant others

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

Annette Foley*
School of Education, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Barry Golding
School of Education, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Helen Weadon
School of Business, Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:


The health and wellbeing benefits of Men's Sheds to the men who participate have had significant research attention for over a decade. However, there has been little research into the broader impacts of Men's Sheds, particularly in relation to the impacts on significant others in the lives of the men who participate. Our paper aims to redress this lack of research by focusing on the interrelated perceptions and experiences of men and those closest to them in four Men's Sheds in regional Victoria, Australia. The research shows that the partners and carers of ‘shedders’ reported that the men's participation not only benefited the men but also had benefits for their significant others. The study also showed that the partners of shedders in the study found that their individual and joint adjustment to retirement was in some cases assisted by the men enjoying the social and structured environment of the Men's Shed, while in other cases it was seen by partners as an over-commitment and impacting negatively on the marriage. The findings also shed some important light on some tensions experienced by the partners associated with carer burden and adjustments to retirement.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adams, K, Leibbrandt, S and Moon, H (2011) A critical review of the literature on social and leisure activity and wellbeing in later life. Ageing & Society 31, 683712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barnes, H and Parry, J (2004) Renegotiating identity and relationships: men and women's adjustments to retirement. Ageing & Society 24, 213233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bassanini, A and Caroli, E (2014) Is work bad for health? The role of constraint versus choice. Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany, IZA Discussion Paper 7891.Google Scholar
Braun, V and Clarke, V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, 77101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown, M, Golding, B and Foley, A (2008) Out the back: men's sheds and informal learning. Fine Print 31, 1215.Google Scholar
Carragher, L and Golding, B (2016) Men's Sheds: sharing knowledge and learning in the company of men. Adult Learner: The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education 65, 5971.Google Scholar
Cooley, E and Adorno, G (2016) Advice from working women with retired partners. Journal of Women & Ageing 28, 141149.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dow, B and Meyer, C (2010) Caring and retirement: crossroads and consequences. International Journal of Health Services 40, 645665.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ely, M, Vinz, R, Anzul, M and Downing, M (1997) On Writing Qualitative Research. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
Flood, P and Blair, S (2013) Men's Sheds in Australia: Effects on Physical Health and Mental Well-being. Melbourne: Ultra-feedback for Beyond Blue. Available at Scholar
Foley, A, Golding, B and Brown, (2008) Let the men speak: health and friendship, community and shed therapy. Paper presented at the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Conference, Adelaide, Australia, April.Google Scholar
Frieden, B (1993) The Fountain of Age. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
Glesne, C (2006) Becoming Qualitative Researchers: An Introduction. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
Golding, B (2011) Older men's wellbeing through community participation in Australia. International Journal of Men's Health 10, 2644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Golding, B (2014 a) Older men's learning and conviviality. In Schmidt-Hertha, B, Jelenc Krasovek, S and Formosa, M (eds), Learning Across Generations: Contemporary Issues in Older Adult Education. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, pp. 2334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Golding, B (2014 b) Men's sheds: a new movement for change. In Golding, B, Mark, R and Foley, A (eds), Men Learning Through Life. Leicester, UK: NIACE, pp. 113130.Google Scholar
Golding, B (2015) The Men's Shed Movement: The Company of Men. Champaign, IL: Common Ground.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Golding, B and Carragher, L (2015) Community men's sheds and informal learning: an exploration of their gendered roles. In Oustrouch-Kaminska, J and Vieira, C (eds), Private World(s): Gender and Informal Learning of Adults (ESREA Series: Research on the Education and Learning of Adults). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, pp. 103118.Google Scholar
Golding, B, Brown, M, Foley, A, Harvey, J and Gleeson, L (2007) Men's Sheds in Australia: Learning Through Community Contexts. Adelaide, Australia: NCVER.Google Scholar
Haug, M, Belgrave, L and Jones, S (1993) Partners’ health and retirement adaptation of women and their husbands. Journal of Women & Ageing 4, 529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hedegaard, J and Ahl, H (2019) Learning to deal with freedom and restraints: elderly women's experiences of their husbands visiting a men's shed. Australian Journal of Adult Learning 59, 7693.Google Scholar
Imamura, F, Micha, R, Khatibzadeh, S, Fahimi, S, Shi, P, Powels, J and Mozaffarian, D (2015) Dietary quality among men and women in 187 countries in 1990 and 2010: a systematic assessment. Lancet Global Health 3, 132142.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Karpen, RR (2017) Reflections on women's retirement. The Gerontologist 57, 103109.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kelly, D, Steiner, A, Mason, H and Teasdale, S (2019) Men's Sheds: a conceptual exploration of causal pathways for health and well-being. Health and Social Care 27, 11471157.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kimberley, H, Golding, B and Simons, B (2018) The company of others: generating know how in later life. In Findsen, B (ed.), Fresh Perspectives in Later Life Learning. Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis, pp. 3749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lang, FR and Carstensen, LL (2002) Time counts: future time perspective, goals, and social relationships. Psychology and Ageing 17, 125139.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Li, T and Fung, H (2014) How avoidant attachment influences subjective well-being: an investigation about age and gender differences. Ageing & Mental Health 18, 410.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mackenzie, C, Roger, K, Robertson, S, Oliffe, JL, Nurmi, MA and Urquhart, J (2017) Counter and compliant masculine discourse among Men's Shed members. American Journal of Men's Health 11, 12241236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Milligan, C, Neary, D, Payne, S, Hanratty, B, Irwin, P and Dowrick, C (2016) Older men and social activity: a scoping review of Men's Sheds and other gendered interventions. Ageing & Society 36, 895923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mock, SE and Cornelius, SW (2007) Profiles of interdependence: the retirement planning of married, cohabiting, and lesbian couples. Sex Roles 56, 793800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moen, P, Kim, JE and Hofmeister, H (2001) Couples’ work/retirement transitions, gender, and marital quality. Social Psychology Quarterly 64, 5571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muller, T and Shaikh, M (2018) Your retirement and your health behaviour: evidence of retirement externalities from a fuzzy regression discontinuity design. Journal of Health and Economy 57, 4559.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nimrod, G and Shrira, A (2016) The paradox of leisure in later life. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 71B, 106111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oliffe, JL, Rasmussen, B, Bottorff, MT, Kelly, PM, Galdas, P and Ogrodniczuk, JS (2013) Masculinities, work, and retirement among older men who experience depression. Qualitative Health Research 23, 16261637.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Picchio, M and van Ours, J (2018) The causal effects of retirement on health and happiness. Rotterdam: The Netherlands, Working Paper, Tinbergen Institute.Google Scholar
Price, C (2003) Professional women's retirement adjustment: the experience of reestablishing order. Journal of Aging Studies, 17, 341355.Google Scholar
Principi, A, Smeaton, D, Cahill, K, Santini, S, Barnes, H and Socci, M (2020) What happens to retirement plans, and does this affect retirement satisfaction? International Journal of Ageing and Human Development 90, 152175.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rowe, J and Kahn, R (1997) Successful ageing. The Gerontologist 37, 433440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rusbult, CE and Van Lange, AM (2008) Why we need interdependence theory. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2, 20492070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ruxton, S (2006) Working with Older Men: A Review of Age Concern Services. London: Age Concern.Google Scholar
Shiota, MN and Levenson, RW (2007) Birds of a feather don't always fly farthest: similarity in Big Five personality predicts more negative marital satisfaction trajectories in long-term marriages. Psychology and Ageing 22, 666675.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Standridge, SH, Dunlap, R and Hamilton, G (2018) Retirement and flow: can the casual leisure pursuits of older adults in retirement create the experience of flow? Activities, Adaptation and Aging 44, 192209.Google Scholar
Taylor, J, Cole, R, Kynn, M and Lowe, J (2018) Home away from home: health and wellbeing benefits of men's sheds. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 29, 236242.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Van Solinge, H and Henkens, K (2005) Couples’ adjustment to retirement: a multi-actor panel study. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 60B, 1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waling, A and Fildes, D (2017) Don't fix what ain't broke': evaluating the effectiveness of a Men's Shed in inner-regional Australia. Health & Social Care in the Community 25, 758768.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Warren, DA (2015) Retirement decisions of couples in Australia: the impact of spousal characteristics and preferences. Journal of the Economics of Ageing 6, 149162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilsnack, RW, Wilsnack, SC, Gmel, G and Kantor, LW (2018) Gender differences in binge drinking. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 39, 5776.Google ScholarPubMed
Wilson, NJ, Cordier, R, Ciccarelli, M, MacCallum, J, Milbourn, B, Vas, S, Joosten, A, Buchanan, A, McAuliffe, T and Stancliffe, RJ (2017) Intergenerational mentoring at Men's Sheds: a feasibility study. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities 31, 105117.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed