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ER with one spouse still working
Old 07-11-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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ER with one spouse still working

I'm looking for some advice from those of you that are retired but your spouse continues to w*rk. I ER'd about 6 weeks ago and my spouse is planning to w*rk for some time yet (several years, maybe longer). Even though she was very supportive of my decision to ER, I think she is now a little frustrated that she is w*rking and I'm not. Financially, there is no issue with my ER - it is not making any difference to our budgets. I do all of the housework, honey-do lists, etc - and I think she appreciates that. She likes her job okay, but like all jobs, it's never perfect. IMO, she still needs to w*rk as her career is a major part of her life, right now. She is two years younger than I am.

I'm sure this "discomfort" will pass as we both continue to get used to the changes that ER brings, but I was wondering if others went through this, and how it worked out.
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:28 PM   #2
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My wife still works. She likes working but, like everyone else, she has some bad days. On those days, I can feel her getting frustrated. I think it would be easy to feel like she was frustrated at me and not at her job, if I felt guilty about retiring before she did. So perhaps this "discomfort" comes from an unease on your part. The only way to find out is to have an honest discussion with the wifey.

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IMO, she still needs to w*rk as her career is a major part of her life, right now. She is two years younger than I am.
Unless I misunderstand, that could be part of the problem. If I stayed at home all day and told my wife "IMO honey, you still need to work", I don't think she'd be very happy.

If you think that your wife is not psychologically ready to retire just yet, I would rather ask "But Honey, what will you do all day?". Based on the advice I found in the book "get a life: you don't need a million to retire well", I asked my wife to imagine what her day-to-day life in retirement would look like and she couldn't get past breakfast. So I didn't have to tell her that she wasn't ready for retirement. She figured it out for herself. We are now working to get her ready.
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:41 PM   #3
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Thanks FD. I would never tell my wife she is not ready to retire - that would really cause issues! I only say that because I watch what she does on weekends or Holidays and she is so bored if we don't have something to do - she just watches TV and does w*rk from home. Eventually, she will be able to ease into the retirement mode, but not yet (IMO).
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:46 PM   #4
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Even though she was very supportive of my decision to ER, I think she is now a little frustrated that she is w*rking and I'm not.
So, you are retired and she continues to work but you don't. Even though you are making a good faith attempt to help out around the house, I can see how that could possibly cause some marital discord while you iron out the details.

Maybe you need to talk to her about whether or not she feels that you are doing your share in this 50:50 deal, and what she thinks you need to be doing that you aren't. For example some, including me, might think that a "house husband" should plan well balanced, nutritious menus, determine what is needed from the grocery store, do all the shopping, put it all away, do all the cooking, and clean up after every meal, without having to be told to do any of it.

Alternately, when she expresses her frustration why not just tell her that if she doesn't like her work, she can quit with no financial implications. Show her that your present standard of living has not required one penny from her salary, and show her how her salary has been accumulating untouched, so it is not needed in order to maintain your present lifestyle.

Whether or not she is ready to quit work is her decision, not yours, IMO. She may be basing that on various concerns.
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Old 07-11-2011, 02:37 PM   #5
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What W2R said. DW kept working after I retired because she wanted to and because she wanted an extra cushion in her 401K before she felt comfortable pulling the plug. We had discussed the issues at length and I did a lot of things that eased her continuing work life (e.g. driving her to work, "guy Friday" chores, etc). I was always the cook anyway so nothing changed in that regard. It worked out well -- DW is down to about 10% now.
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Old 07-11-2011, 03:43 PM   #6
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I do all of the housework, honey-do lists, etc
This may be the problem. You are doing all the housework and she is feeling unsecured that this job is being away from her. She may be feeling that she is/will not be needed anymore. Like losing a job security.
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:22 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I really think the main issue is that we have gone through a significant change in both of our lifestyles. We have only been married for 6 years and DW had an ex-boyfriend that was forever unemployed and lazy, so maybe there is some bad memories being conjured up. I think DW is happy about me doing the household chores. I was just wondering if others went through anything like this, and if so, did it just settle out with a little time?
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:27 PM   #8
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I was just wondering if others went through anything like this, and if so, did it just settle out with a little time?
Yep.

The two of you should keep revisiting the discussion of how she'll know when it's time to go. She may eventually (belatedly) realize that you have a better life than her and that she's tired of putting up with the workplace. That conversation has to occur in the framework of "OK, I'm ready to try ER" rather than her having to admit "I wuz wrong".

It wouldn't hurt to express appreciation for all the things that she used to do around the house or yard, like "Gosh, now that I'm doing this stuff I sure appreciate what you did a lot more!"

It's probably worth your time to be available when she arrives home-- just to give her an opportunity to vent. She's not going to be trying to solve problems as much as she's going to be discharging the accumulated stress of the workday. She might need 15-20 minutes of your full attention for that before she's ready to change gears from "work" to "home". Speaking as a guy, I find that I have to work hard to keep my mouth shut and my focus on her workplace issues... no matter how tired I am of hearing about the same ol' problems that could've been fixed last week with a good round of ass-kicking.

At some point she may want to start reading Ernie Zelinski.
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:54 PM   #9
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It's probably worth your time to be available when she arrives home-- just to give her an opportunity to vent. She's not going to be trying to solve problems as much as she's going to be discharging the accumulated stress of the workday. She might need 15-20 minutes of your full attention for that before she's ready to change gears from "work" to "home". Speaking as a guy, I find that I have to work hard to keep my mouth shut and my focus on her workplace issues... no matter how tired I am of hearing about the same ol' problems that could've been fixed last week with a good round of ass-kicking.
There is a load of wisdom in this paragraph.
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Old 07-11-2011, 11:37 PM   #10
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My wife still works and probably will until the kids get out of high school in about 5 years. We're a little different. she has worked part-time from home for the last 8 years, while I commuted an hour each way to work for the first 7 of those. Since I have ER'd, she has had times where she feels jealous. Then she remembers all the days she worked a couple of hours and then got to do what she wanted or the summer morning when the kids weren't in school when I got up at 5:30 am and they all slept in. Kind of helps her keep it in perspective.

She does, however, like that I am here to talk too, vent about work or just take a walk with. She likes that I am happier and less stressed. She likes that I have taken over many of the chores (or at least the ones I didn't assign to the kids). It's working well.

You just need to find an equilibrium where she doesn't feel like she's slogging off to work while you sit home and play. While that may be the case, she need to not feel that way. Do what you can to help her out, be there for her and use some of your time to make her happy. Take her lunch, plan a romantic get away, whatever.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:11 AM   #11
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my DW ER'ed 6 years before I did, and my FIL ER'ed 5 years before MIL. DW's BIL ER'ed 5 years ago and his DW ER's end of this month.

We've all talked about this situation and in all instances the stay at home spouse did all the chores including planning and preparing meals, food shopping etc. Nords makes a great point about being a good listener when the working spouse wants to talk about work.
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:39 PM   #12
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There is a load of wisdom in this paragraph.
That's because my spouse explained it to me!

I've also learned that from my daughter.

In fact, most of what I've learned from living with two women is the load of wisdom to be gained by keeping one's mouth shut...
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:42 PM   #13
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It's probably worth your time to be available when she arrives home-- just to give her an opportunity to vent. She's not going to be trying to solve problems as much as she's going to be discharging the accumulated stress of the workday. She might need 15-20 minutes of your full attention for that before she's ready to change gears from "work" to "home". Speaking as a guy, I find that I have to work hard to keep my mouth shut and my focus on her workplace issues... no matter how tired I am of hearing about the same ol' problems that could've been fixed last week with a good round of ass-kicking.
Yeah, I can see that. I'm not big on that "Mars and Venus" stuff but this one does seem to be one common difference between men and women (certainly not universal, but common enough to support a generalization IMO). Often women just want to vent, want their husband to listen and empathize -- not immediately launch into problem-solving mode and tell them what they should do to address the source of their angst.
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:59 PM   #14
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Yeah, I can see that. I'm not big on that "Mars and Venus" stuff but this one does seem to be one common difference between men and women (certainly not universal, but common enough to support a generalization IMO). Often women just want to vent, want their husband to listen and empathize -- not immediately launch into problem-solving mode and tell them what they should do to address the source of their angst.
It's great to have someone to listen to how one's day went. Look at how popular our "What did you do today?" thread is. When working, recounting how one's day went can help in dealing with the stress. You're so right, though - - women really don't expect a solution to their problems when they are just venting and blowing off steam. I don't think men do either, though I could be wrong (often am).
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Old 07-12-2011, 01:46 PM   #15
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You guys are onto something with that venting thing. I am a problem solver and cannot understand why anyone would tell me something without wanting to hear my explanation of how to fix it. This frustrates my women friends to no end.

I have to stifle it sometimes when DH wants to complain about something, and just set myself to "receive" instead of "send" mode.
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:00 PM   #16
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You guys are onto something with that venting thing. I am a problem solver and cannot understand why anyone would tell me something without wanting to hear my explanation of how to fix it. This frustrates my women friends to no end.

I have to stifle it sometimes when DH wants to complain about something, and just set myself to "receive" instead of "send" mode.
Just last night, I was on the receiving end of a very long explanation of ongoing agressive behavior of a supervisor toward one of my new female friends and her team at w*rk.
This guy actually grabbed her upper arm a few weeks ago, all the while subjecting her to all sorts of verbal nonsense. The verbal nonsense has been ongoing toward her and quite a few of her co-w*rkers.
I told her the next time he acted like that, for her to calmly walk to a phone and call the security cops and let the supervisor explain to the cops why he was yelling at her, plus touching her in the w*rkplace, or even touching her at all. Time to draw the line.

She got all worried about that solution. I doubt she will do anything for fear of repercussions to her reviews.
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:22 PM   #17
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Just last night, I was on the receiving end of a very long explanation of ongoing agressive behavior of a supervisor toward one of my new female friends and her team at w*rk.
This guy actually grabbed her upper arm a few weeks ago, all the while subjecting her to all sorts of verbal nonsense. The verbal nonsense has been ongoing toward her and quite a few of her co-w*rkers.
I told her the next time he acted like that, for her to calmly walk to a phone and call the security cops and let the supervisor explain to the cops why he was yelling at her, plus touching her in the w*rkplace, or even touching her at all. Time to draw the line.

She got all worried about that solution. I doubt she will do anything for fear of repercussions to her reviews.
A coworker was fired several weeks ago after another coworker was yelling in his face and he pushed her away (gently). Crash and burn offense...

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Old 07-12-2011, 05:39 PM   #18
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Thanks to all for the advice. I will certainly make time to listen to her, especially when she first comes home from w*rk. I will admit that after spending the last 10 years of my career in an executive position, I knew that when people came to me with problems, it was my job to fix them. That is partly why I ER'ed - I (and the company) got to the point I couldn't fix the problems. At this point, I don't say much to my DW about what I did each day, or that I am enjoying my new found freedom - there will be time for that once everything settles down.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:18 PM   #19
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A coworker was fired several weeks ago after another coworker was yelling in his face and he pushed her away (gently). Crash and burn offense...

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I am enjoying my option of working from home most days. There is no chance for any of unnecessary bodily contact.
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:07 PM   #20
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In addition to the above sage advice, I would recommend that you spend most of your time when DW is at work bumming around, or whatever you like to do in your spare time. Then, when she is home, do the chores and the honey-do list and whatever other tasks you would do. Let her see you working, instead of having it all done when she gets home and you just sitting around being all mellow and such. It's all about the image.
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