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Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-30-2004, 08:55 AM   #1
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Spousal resentment? ? ?

I have lurked here for about a month, & have not run across any talk of what I would assume would be a common issue - & that is the spouse disagreeing with the ER issue! ! !

I have just recently verbalized to my wife(& myself really) of my intentions to at least semi ER. Actually, this has been a creeping process as my sole pro. service business has been in gradual decline for about 3 years, & consequently work only about 10-20 hrs/wk.

She works full time but hates her job & I sense some resentment (not verbalized) or perhaps jealousy with my admittedly suspicious lifestyle of working "sometimes"! The wife will come home tonight after a hard week at the office & ask what I did today & I will respond "shoveled snow, did the dishes, & played on the net". She will smirk & I will say that I've worked hard & saved all my life & at 55 I can afford to semi ER & enjoy the fruits of my labor. We have never argued about this issue, but I do detect "something" brewing beneath the surface.

Surely there have to be similar issues with others on this forum. Or do you all magically & blissfully come to the same conclusion at the same time about ER? Are things ever EZ in this world?
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-30-2004, 09:18 AM   #2
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

My spouse stopped working about a year before I did. I didn't have any resentment. If the two of you agree that it's financially plausible for *both* of you to ER, then I don't see a problem.

However, if you decide that you can only afford for one of you to ER while the other needs to keep on working, then that's not really ER in my book. That just means that you'd be transitioning to "househusband" and you'll have to deal with all of the stigma a housewife has to endur plus a wallop of reverse gender bias. That would be an awkward situation for me.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-30-2004, 09:30 AM   #3
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

My wife and I were both engineers. But while I looked at engineering as a career, she looked at it as a job. She worked to produce enough money to enjoy life. Early on, I enjoyed my work and career and looked forward to going to work while she worked day-to-day because she viewed it as necessary to sustain out lifestyle and enjoy life. Neither of us even thought about retirement.

Then about 7 or 8 years before we finally retired, I began to become very disenchanted with work. I started looking into all kinds of alternatives and realized that retirement was an option that was not that far out of reach. Although my wife was skeptical that we could really retire in that time period, she was more than eager to take the plunge. We established a timeline and goals and eventually got there. I retired about 10 months ago and she retired about 5 months ago.

It is interesting that she now struggles with retirment far more than I have. She is a little uncomfortable telling people that she is retired. Although she doesn't want to go back to engineering, she seems to be restless and continues to try working part-time and temporary jobs. She got state certification and took up substitue teaching for a month or two. A few weeks after she stopped teaching, she took a temporary job as a County Park Maintenance worker. Early on, I did sense that she was not completely pleased -- maybe even a little embarrased -- that I was able to feel so comfortable not working. I think she is beginning to be more comfortable with things within the past month. There seems to be about a 4 to 8 month settling in period that a lot of retirees go through. I'm hoping we're almost through that.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-30-2004, 10:35 AM   #4
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

I think it is normal for most all retirees to experience some angst, no matter what their age. Once again,
I am an anomaly.

John Galt
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-30-2004, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Thank you for bringing up the issues of sposual attitudes. I am 53 and can theoretically retire at 55 with a pension comfortable to the modest level we have been living. My wife is 56 and is a teacher. Her pension is more robust if she makes 60 but she can retire any time on a reduced pension. We have visited Fiji and the south Pacific and contemplated missionary/Habitat for Humanity type work. Real subsistence living will really stretch our funds. Anyway I would have preferred her at home more but she has liked teaching as well as liking the income. When we met some years ago she was making a bit more than me and now I probably make 30 to 40% more. In the last few years our finances have come together and we could pay off the (modest) house from funds in the credit union. Anyway the attitude thing, I am "lucky" in that she has the "class from hell" this year and suddenly is interested in retiring. I, on the other hand, always talked up retirement but my work has turned massively interesting. I work for NASA where the Mars rovers are designed. For the last three weeks I would pay to go to work. I remember some dark days when we lost spacecraft and some boring days in between.
The point of all this is that attitudes change. Changes in health, income and interests will change attitudes. As soon as my wife & I had a plan for what to do after work it kind of organized our thinking. The only big unknown is my younger son is at home and in high school. I have saved some for his schooling. I know there are various kinds of schools, scholarships and jobs but education is very big to us. I was able to go to some great schools (University of Chicago, Oxford and the like) on scholarships as my family had a very low income. It seems like it would take a remarkable amount of saving for me to duplicate the financial aid I received. But I consider it a blessing to have had a good quality family, good schooling, an interesting job and the chance to provide for my family even if it means working longer than the minimum I contemplated whilst still single and floating around with the navy.
Attituds-talk and adjust a lot-and be ready for them to change.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-31-2004, 06:44 AM   #6
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Good point about changing attitudes, Yakers! Anything can come along in a week or a month so as to upset the apple cart of current plans & notions. Like you say, anything from health issues to spouses work situation to a more severe economic downturn. Heck, even another terrorist strike on our soil could potentially alter some retirement plans in ways now unknown!
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-31-2004, 07:10 AM   #7
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Yep, I've been ERed 11 years and have been blindsided
repeatedly. Also I got divorced, moved
four times (3 states), remarried, bought a house, bought a ranchette, and now we're
working on moving south asap. I would guess I'm on
my 5th or 6th health insurer. The one thing that I would not
expect to have any direct impact on my ER is another
terrorist attack. I hope it doesn't happen, but
otherwise I never give it a thought.

John Galt
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 01-31-2004, 09:53 AM   #8
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

No spousal resentment here, although I've definitely fallen into what might be considered "househusband" I guess, since I do all the cooking and cleaning. But I guess I'd be doing all of that regardless, I just cook a little more and wash a few more clothes.

She loves the fact that I'm ER'd. Unless I'm mistaken she's actually proud of it and brags (a little) to her friends.

Resentment from others? Friends and family are glad for me. For peripheral people I usually tell I got "lucky" in the stock market, that it was like winning the lottery. They can accept that.

Should I find that anyone in my life is resentful, my reaction would be simple: theres the door, dont need you in my life, if my circumstance and good fortune make you feel that way, I dont want you.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 02-21-2004, 01:54 PM   #9
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

IF there is any spousal resentment here its because I'm only semi-retired. She wants to be footloose! Me too cant wait. Shooting for year end 2004! 8)
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 02-21-2004, 03:33 PM   #10
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

There won't be any resentment in *our* house when the ER day arrives! The "real" retirement will be from my husband's job, as he has the 9-to-5, good-salary job; I've worked full time in the past but right now I do freelance writing (doesn't pay much, but I enjoy it) and seasonal part-time work (teaching fencing, because it's fun to do - just makes it nicer that they pay me). So *my* work won't really change, just his... but we always think of ER as something *we* will do. Ie. the plan is that *we* will retire in 5 years.

I won't be surprised if we get some resentment/envy/cluelessness from other family members... but no biggie. If they don't "get" why we don't spend all our money now, just because we can, then they won't "get" the whole ER concept. Their loss!
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 02-26-2004, 04:40 PM   #11
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

There are 2 icky parts to FIREing when a spouse is still working.

1. Resentment, as seems to be the case for the original poster.

2. Overloading of domestic jobs, i.e. doing all the "little" jobs around the house.

In case #1, if I were ther FIREing spouse, I would try to take any load I could off the one who was still unhappily employed until they, too, could enjoy the fruits of retirement.

Case #2 is the opposite of #1. That is - if both spouses are able to retire, but one doesn't want to because they want to consume more/enjoy their work/whatever, then the FIREing spouse can certainly keep doing half the chores and no more. There is no point in retiring if all you are going to do is clean bathrooms and clean house all the time (unless that's what you want to do). The working spouse must understand under these circumstances that, just because you are at home, doesn't mean you are going to do all the <insert favorite naughty word here> work.

Works pretty well for me. I do clean the potties, because my husband never would, ever. But I cook half the meals and he the other half, and otherwise house work is divided pretty evenly.

Communication in this area is very important.

arrete

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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-23-2004, 08:17 AM   #12
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Interesting article in the NYTimes today.

He's Retired, She's Working, They're Not Happy

... Some men are threatened by the role reversal; others are impatient to travel or to move someplace warm. Some women resent having their husbands lie about all day, rarely taking on additional housework. A Cornell University study of 534 retirement-aged men and women found that working women whose husbands were retired or disabled were the least happy with their marriages. Working men whose wives stayed home were the most. ...
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-23-2004, 09:27 AM   #13
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Quote:
Some men are threatened by the role reversal; others are impatient to travel or to move someplace warm. Some women resent having their husbands lie about all day, rarely taking on additional housework. A Cornell University study of 534 retirement-aged men and women found that working women whose husbands were retired or disabled were the least happy with their marriages. Working men whose wives stayed home were the most. ...
My wife and I are in this situation and are very happy.

I think one thing you have to understand about this forum membership - We are the minority in just about every category. Especially finances. Most Amercians are broke and in debt. Were not.

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Re:  A few words of helpful advice...
Old 03-23-2004, 09:36 AM   #14
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Re:  A few words of helpful advice...

... you're retired. Get over yourself.

But it's probably more complicated than that, and my advice is worth what you're paying for it.

If one of you is working because you need the money to pay your living expenses, then you're not actually retired-- you're employed at supporting your family. The first one of you to find a job gets to award the other spouse half of their housekeeping chores. After you cover that obligation then you can go back to considering yourself retired.

If you're both employed, then you should both do housework & meals (or pay someone else to do it). If you're not seeking employment, then you get to do the housework & cooking... or at the very least, apportion it by the percentage of time each spouse spends at home during the day. (Good luck with that latter approach.) Or find the hidden pleasures in your chores-- my favorite part of doing housework is watching all of the commuters trapped in rush hour traffic. My favorite part of cooking dinner is watching my kid blossom as an amateur chef.

If your ego's health depends on your spouse's presence & adulation, or if your only friend is your spouse, then get help fast-- you're heading for a self-imposed implosion. I'm not necessarily suggesting therapy; many of the support structures that resolve this situation can be found in an office via part-time employment. (Or by wearing a Wal-Mart greeter's vest.) If you really want a cold splash of reality on your personal "life is good" situation, then volunteer to care for your relatives' kids for a few weeks while THEIR parents are working. Or call your local homeless shelter and ask if they need help serving meals. Ask your local YMCA or school or library if they need volunteers. Ask your Habitat for Humanity chapter if they want help at a construction site. In a month you'll have more friends than you can handle.

Now for the other side of the couple: You're working because you choose to, not because you need to. Sainthood is a posthumous occupation and if you complain one more time then you may attain early eligibility. If you don't want to go to work that day, then don't. But don't keep griping about it or I'll tell you how I plan to spend my day-- as soon as I get out of bed!

One of Gail Sheehy's "Passages" studies noted that a much higher proportion of women than men feared being elderly, alone, & homeless (the "bag lady nightmare"). Perhaps this concern isn't necessarily unfounded, but perhaps this is also a driving force in keeping more women in the workplace past the point of retirement. I keep showing my spouse the investment numbers and checking that we're not exceeding her risk profile. (If there's anything good to say about the last four investing years, they've been an excellent gut-check of everyone's risk profiles.)

FWIW, my spouse works because her career hasn't hit a plateau yet. She has the money part locked down but she's still pursuing the "I did it my way" closure, and it hasn't cost her in terms of life quality. While it may be her problem, she's dealing with it and it'll end one way or the other by 2013. I don't mind spending that part of my own retirement waiting for her to catch up. She can still see opportunities to collect a week or two of part-time paychecks, get paid for attending training, earn a few more retirement points, and perhaps get a well-deserved promotion. Subsidized international travel is just a bonus, especially when our grandparents can care for our kid while I handle the luggage! So I tolerate her occasional "I don't wanna work" morning blues, bite my tongue, and check the surf forecast.

But if you're retired, your spouse is working, and there's a problem, then it's not your spouse's fault. Go find the solution in the nearest mirror.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-23-2004, 05:07 PM   #15
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Wow! Is he talking to me? If so, he may have caught a slight case of "Teds" ailment! ! !
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Re:  No, not you, JamesGang!
Old 03-23-2004, 09:43 PM   #16
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Re:  No, not you, JamesGang!

My apologies if any of you took that personally. Hopefully it's not a guilty conscience.

Several of the retirees described in that magazine article clearly didn't understand their retirement roles. The article certainly serves as a warning to those contemplating retirement to a family praising their accomplishments!

I don't think their problems apply to anyone who's posted on this website. Anyone else seen this issue?
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-24-2004, 03:28 AM   #17
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Specifically re. spousal resentment, I detect none here.
My wife (5 years younger) still works pretty close to a full time schedule. I would like for her to be retired
but there is a big imbalance in our finances and she likes
having her own money. Also, I was retired when we met. Alas, the retirement issue was a big contributor to the demise of my first marriage. I was going and I knew
my spouse couldn't come along (very high maintenance and refused to work).
Now she works full time and I have not drawn a salary
since 1998. Poetic justice or just irony? You decide.

John Galt
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Nords, I see the light now!
Old 03-24-2004, 04:07 AM   #18
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Nords, I see the light now!

I was unable, for some reason, to link to that article yesterday & was unsure what you were responding to.
After reading the article, I tend to agree with your remarks.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-24-2004, 06:02 AM   #19
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

Wife is 13 years younger than me and still working in the IT field. She's very successful. I would like her to work until age 55 so that she can get a decent company pension and, most important, retiree medical benefits.
The only thing with my ER, is that she thinks I won't have enough to keep busy and not be bored.
I think I'll be ok, time will tell.
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?
Old 03-24-2004, 07:00 AM   #20
 
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Re: Spousal resentment? ? ?

I think the most blissful ER state would be a return
to a natural childlike attitude, where doing nothing was
doing something. For me, fishing comes close to this.


John Galt
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