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Old 09-07-2007, 07:18 AM   #1
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Non retired spouse

I retired (after 31 years) about 6 months ago, because of an offer from my company "that I couldn't refuse". My dear wife still has about 5 -6 more years to get her pension from the local school system.

Things seem to be getting a bit "strained" around the house, so I would like some input from others, especially the fairer sex !

First, my wife, who is an above average house keeper, stopped house cleaning after I retired, just to see if I would start doing it. Well, I outlasted her, mostly because she usually does not like the way I clean house anyway. I did offer to hire a housekeeper, but she said, "I would have to clean before she/he came !" It took the better part of a week to get things back to the way she likes them.

Second, DW, pointed out that I had not done much additional cooking, especially while she was working (although we eat out/have carry out more than ever). I agreed and now that school is back in I have cooked dinner a couple of time. Well, last night, I said I would do the dishes in the AM only to have her start them at about 9:00PM (she has to get up at 5:30AM), after I had settled down to watch TV in the family room. I don't understand this, other than she dislikes dirty dishes.

This AM, while she was getting her breakfast and lunch ready, I asked if she knew if we had some ingredients for dinner tonight. Instead of a simple "Yes" or "No", she gave me a 60 second "lecture" on why I shouldn't ask her questions like that in the AM.

I'm nervous about where this is going. I would like to retire with this lady and have told her she can quit anytime she wants and we will be okay. (Her pension and benefits would be nice, but I'm pretty certain we can make do without it.)
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:39 AM   #2
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First, my wife, who is an above average house keeper, stopped house cleaning after I retired, just to see if I would start doing it. Well, I outlasted her, mostly because she usually does not like the way I clean house anyway. I did offer to hire a housekeeper, but she said, "I would have to clean before she/he came !" It took the better part of a week to get things back to the way she likes them.

Second, DW, pointed out that I had not done much additional cooking, especially while she was working (although we eat out/have carry out more than ever). I agreed and now that school is back in I have cooked dinner a couple of time.
So, do you expect her to wait on you hand and foot while she is working, or just in retirement?

Times have changed. I would suggest that you get over it, be a man, and help out around the house. Another alternative would be to go live by yourself and see how long it takes before you are doing these chores out of necessity.

Bear in mind that I am happily divorced, live alone, and LOVE the consequent decrease in my workload, as well as other advantages to living alone. Others may differ!
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:55 AM   #3
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Another alternative would be to go live by yourself and see how long it takes before you are doing these chores out of necessity.
I actually got to see that first hand about a week ago.

A co-worker retired the about same time I did. He is divorced. I expect he is about 6 months away from becoming a true hermit. His house had not been cleaned in years ! He was wearing ripped up jeans and an old tee shirt. There was junk everywhere. Not a pretty sight. Money is not the object. His unkempt house sits on a lake lot (4' high weeds to the road) and is probably worth close $1M (he told me it cost $50K 30+ years ago, so I'm guessing it is paid for). Even though he is eligible for SS, he has not applied yet, because he is "still collecting on patents that are pending" when he retired.

Remember, I offered to hire a housekeeper, because I don't want to clean either !
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:56 AM   #4
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I recently retired and my wife also works for the school system (9 more years for full pension). While school is in session, I generally fix simple meals for both of us and do most of the routine housework. (She claims I can't scrub a toilet properly and I gladly give this over). It really isn't that much work.

I think a lot of it is whether one feels respected or not.
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:10 AM   #5
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Old Wizard ,
She's just going through an adjustment .Look around and see what you can do .Start with laundry .Whites with white ,light colors with light colors ,and darks with dark .Ask her if anything is hand washed before you shrink a cashmere sweater .Don't put her underwear in the dryer .Dry the clothes sufficiently ( damp clothes smell funny ) and fold everything neatly .Offer to do errands drycleaning ,food shopping ,etc..Learn a few easy recipes chicken with a little lemon and seasoning bake at 350 for one hour .always is good .Plus they have some decent quicky meals in the supermarket Bertolli shrimp and pastas in the frozen foods plus Michael Angelo's has a frozen Eggplant parmesan that 's good . These things will show her you care and life will improve .
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:19 AM   #6
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Old Wizard ,
She's just going through an adjustment .Look around and see what you can do .Start with laundry .Whites with white ,light colors with light colors ,and darks with dark .Ask her if anything is hand washed before you shrink a cashmere sweater .Don't put her underwear in the dryer .Dry the clothes sufficiently ( damp clothes smell funny ) and fold everything neatly .Offer to do errands drycleaning ,food shopping ,etc..Learn a few easy recipes chicken with a little lemon and seasoning bake at 350 for one hour .always is good .Plus they have some decent quicky meals in the supermarket Bertolli shrimp and pastas in the frozen foods plus Michael Angelo's has a frozen Eggplant parmesan that 's good . These things will show her you care and life will improve .
Another thing - - do things when they need to be done, without waiting for her to tell you to do them. Be the person to figure out when you need to replenish your shelves with staples such as additional tomato paste or olive oil, and buy it in reasonable quantities without having to be told to do so. Be the person to create tentative menus, determine what ingredients are needed, and to have those ingredients in the house. Be the person to detect that it is time to do that laundry, and let it appear in her closet/drawers magically and neatly folded or put away. Do this regularly enough that she can TRUST that it will happen without having to hound you about it. Keep a notebook of when you last did various chores, and do them again at reasonable intervals (such as once a week for mopping and vacuuming, for example, or daily for picking up clutter and putting things away where they belong). Much of the effort of housekeeping is keeping track of such things and NOT having to be told to do them.

Hiring a housekeeper is a help, but most of what needs to be done (such as putting away clutter where it belongs, etc)can only be done by those living in the home.
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:50 AM   #7
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You need to have several conversations with her. Remember, she is adjusting too. She probably has some conflicted feelings about what she thinks you "should" be doing, some jealousy that you have the free time and flexibility, and fear that you don't really need her in her old role. Make sure you understand from your wife what she expects and negotiate what is reasonable.

She is a picky housekeeper and if you are not "doing it right", she needs to be gently told how this effects your motivation to pitch in. I understand this problem, since it is hard for me to let DH do some types of cleaning, since he doesn't do it to my standards. One trade off - develop some fun activities you can do together during the time she would have been cleaning. also, you might want to find some things that are a bit more fool-proof to start with, like sweeping and vacuuming (laundry might not be the thing.) and get it done before she would have done it, so she won't have to. If you really want someone to clean, offer to do the pick-up/decluttering before they arrive and make sure that it gets done. If the housekeeper is not expected until 10 am, and your wife starts in the night before (and you will do it in the am), gently remind her it is your job, your agreed to deal and you will take care of it.

As others have said, some simple cooking and taking over the responsibility of keeping the grocery needs list will go a long way to let her know you are willing to shift roles and share the load. But, remember, this is a conversation you will likely need to have more than one time.
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:08 AM   #8
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I think she is just jealous/upset that you get to stay home and get paid....while she has to work.
I think it is an adjustment period....but it would be a nice thing for you to help around the house. But if your help is never going to be good enough.....I don't know if there is anything you could do except go back to work!
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:17 AM   #9
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First, my wife, who is an above average house keeper, stopped house cleaning after I retired, just to see if I would start doing it.
Does she know that you're an above-average housecleaner too? Sounds like you could've picked up on a hint, although a less stressful way might have been a discussion over how your ER would change your respective roles & tasks. You could've seguéd from working to cleaning and still had quite a few hours left over each day.

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I did offer to hire a housekeeper, but she said, "I would have to clean before she/he came !" It took the better part of a week to get things back to the way she likes them.
I think everyone struggles with cleaning up before the housecleaner, if for no other reason than to maximize the cleaner's performance of the duties the homeowner would rather avoid. Sounds like she was giving you another hint-- maybe you could be in charge of the picking up and the light cleaning, and let a housecleaner handle the floors, dusting, & shower grout?

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(although we eat out/have carry out more than ever)[. I agreed and now that school is back in I have cooked dinner a couple of time.
Another missed hint? What percentage of meals are you cooking, what percentage is she cooking, and what percentage are you guys eating out? I'm not trying to recommend any specific numbers, except that your number should probably be at least twice as high as hers. Every week. Until she retires.

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Well, last night, I said I would do the dishes in the AM only to have her start them at about 9:00PM
I'm on your side here. If she didn't agree with your decision then she could've talked about it, but this smacks of passive-aggressive "Fine!" responses.

OTOH it drives me nuts to have dirty dishes out overnight because I'm the guy in charge of roach & ant patrol. But having a discussion ending in a real agreement (not just "Fine!" followed by banging dishes) is more important than the actual decision.

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This AM, while she was getting her breakfast and lunch ready, I asked if she knew if we had some ingredients for dinner tonight. Instead of a simple "Yes" or "No", she gave me a 60 second "lecture" on why I shouldn't ask her questions like that in the AM.
Yikes. Maybe this was perceived to be a situation where she was focusing on getting ready for work and you were expected to focus on getting ready for dinner. Who made dinner that evening?

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I'm nervous about where this is going. I would like to retire with this lady and have told her she can quit anytime she wants and we will be okay. (Her pension and benefits would be nice, but I'm pretty certain we can make do without it.)
Well, your nervous-detecting instincts seem sound. She may not share your financial reassurance, she may find work more stimulating & rewarding than quitting for ER, she may be focused on the goal of having her own pension & benefits (a worthy goal for anyone!), she may be reluctant to spend more time with you, or she may even be fighting "bag lady with cats" syndrome. Sounds like another good conversation starting point, although I'd leave out the BLWC part.

Her income may not be financially necessary to your FIRECalc success rate, but it's probably not going to do any good to give her the impression that she's wasting her time by continuing to work. She's working for her own reasons and it's her own decision. If you're ER'd then you don't get a vote on whether or not she works. That's the way it is in our house, too, and spouse works whenever she wants to. In return she's not allowed to whine (too much) when she's going out the door to traffic while I'm loading up my longboard.

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Things seem to be getting a bit "strained" around the house, so I would like some input from others, especially the fairer sex !
You're getting plenty of input at home right now... are you sure you need the board to help with that?

One way to open the lines of communication would be to start clarifying the perception that you have at least 40 more hours of free time every week than she does. For example you could cook at least four dinners a week, handle all the grocery shopping that she doesn't want to share, completely take over kitchen cleanliness, and tackle your share of the picking up. With those accomplishments on your ledger you'd be in a good position to negotiate a housecleaner for the rest. Then you guys could start over with a clean slate and start talking about who does what.

I think it gives both genders, not just women, a tremendous sense of post-workday relief & reassurance to come home to an uncluttered house (maybe even clean!), a shiny clean kitchen, and evidence that dinner is being taken care of (even if you have to leave out a pizza box). That's probably a much better environment for subsequent discussions about who does what than to have a marathon standoff over the housecleaning.
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:19 AM   #10
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I think the two of you need to sit down and discuss the fact that things have changed. It sounds as if you are expected to do some of the things that she has been doing.....so discuss them before the situation gets more strained.

Maybe suggest the two of you make a weekly meal plan so you can get some help with planning meals and recipes and what is needed for the grocery list.

I agree with the thread about the laundry and also not waiting for her to tell you what to do. She may have an existing routine (ie. dishes at night not in the morning) and expects you to follow it without you knowing.

Your willingness to step up and relieve her of extra work will go a long ways towards her happiness. And if she's happy, you will be happy. Or so they say.
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Old 09-07-2007, 09:55 AM   #11
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Well, last night, I said I would do the dishes in the AM only to have her start them at about 9:00PM (she has to get up at 5:30AM), after I had settled down to watch TV in the family room. I don't understand this, other than she dislikes dirty dishes.
Lots of good advice here already, but for this one issue of dishes, I think you already knew the reason--she dislikes dirty dishes.

A compromise might be to ask her if you could soak them all in water and soap in the sink at night and deal with them in the morning. That way they'll be off the counter and out of sight.

It is hard to live up to someone else's standards of "clean" so I agree with the suggestions on communicating with her and spelling out what it is you can do, making expectations realistic on her side, and on your side stepping up to do what you can. Good luck!
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:07 AM   #12
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I have been thinking about this very situation lately. Financially, I will be in a position to retire soon. However, the young wife is a school teacher and has 7 more years to qualify for her pension. I have been concerned that if I retire while she is still working, she would be unhappy. On a recent weekend, we talked about it. She acknowledged that such a situation could only be tolerable for her if I took over the house entirely, such that all she would need to do would be cook when she gets home (she loves to cook). Since I already do all the housecleaning and outside work, this would mostly involve adding laundry and shopping to my duties. I think it could work, but I will still approach it with trepidation. I do know that leaving dishes overnight would be seen as a sign that I am less than serious in my commitment. Similarly, the first time she found that all her workout clothes were dirty since I had not done the wash in a timely manner, there would be trouble in River City. I think those who advocate staying ahead of her expectations are on the right track.

P.S. -- My father in law told me right before the wedding: "If my daughter is happy, you may or may not be happy, but if she is unhappy, you will most certainly be unhappy." A prophetic man, he.
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:11 AM   #13
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think it gives both genders, not just women, a tremendous sense of post-workday relief & reassurance to come home to an uncluttered house (maybe even clean!), a shiny clean kitchen, and evidence that dinner is being taken care of (even if you have to leave out a pizza box). That's probably a much better environment for subsequent discussions about who does what than to have a marathon standoff over the housecleaning.

Wow ! Nords ,you really nailed it !
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:32 AM   #14
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Interesting conversations. I am always talking about retiring at 50, I have 12 years to go! We have moved a few times and my wife just started teaching again. I'm always saying "When I'm 50 and retired..." She's always saying what the hell am I going to do because she will have to work quite a few more years to get her full pension out of the school system. I say why get the full pension she will be vested and can get a small pension at a certain age.
I can see us having similar "problems" in the future. I've got a few years to work them out though.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:00 AM   #15
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Old Wizard ,
She's just going through an adjustment .Look around and see what you can do .Start with laundry ...
She won't let me touch the laundry, unless it is towels !
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:05 AM   #16
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Another thing - - do things when they need to be done, without waiting for her to tell you to do them. Be the person to figure out when you need to replenish your shelves with staples such as additional tomato paste or olive oil, ...
She won't let me do grocery shopping either. 1) She hates making grocery lists ("If I see it on the shelf in the store, I'll remember we need it.") 2) She says that even when she does make a list I forget things (which is true)

However, I'm the one who has to run to the store for the dozen eggs or gallon of milk. There have been days when I have made 3 or 4 runs like this in less than 3 hours.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:06 AM   #17
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She won't let me touch the laundry, unless it is towels !
Oh, please. I bet she'd be "willing" to let you do your own laundry, especially since you no longer have to be concerned about workplace attire. Towels, napkins, and dishrags would be an unexpected bonus.

For someone who claims to be interested in improving marital harmony you sure are raising a lot of objections. I wish you luck in your learned helplessness...
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:25 AM   #18
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She won't let me do grocery shopping either. 1) She hates making grocery lists ("If I see it on the shelf in the store, I'll remember we need it.") 2) She says that even when she does make a list I forget things (which is true)

.

She will not need to make a list since you'll be doing the majority of the cooking or stick with your stand off and end up divorced .The divorce rate is skyrocketing for older couples due to these reasons .
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:27 AM   #19
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The only thing I can add is about the dirty dishes. I think that some women were brought up by their mothers to ALWAYS do the dishes right after dinner...not to wait until later. Dishes are done, lights off and the kitchen is closed for the night. Next morning, everyone wakes up to a clean efficient kitchen that's breakfast ready. It makes waking up for the woman of the house much better-even before her coffee.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:50 AM   #20
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Hehe, you are screwed. Just start doing the cleaning till she is retired and you can do it together, at least it is just 6 months.

Normally when I clean up when the wife isn't here I get some great reward sex when she gets home anyway, no matter how tired she is. (See how she trains me like some chimp!)

I would not even say anything about a housekeeper, because she will possible get upset about that too, because when she cleaned up she didn't have one, so why should you hehe.

Also sat my wife down and told her I would be glad to help out with anything, but I made 2 rules. #1 Do not leave me list, if I as a man left her a "list of chores", I would be considered a evil pig, so I expect the same in return. #2 If you do not like the way I did something, ala lines in the yard when mowed or something silly, you are more then welcome to do it yourself.
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