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One Spouse ER, the Other Not?
Old 09-02-2010, 06:21 PM   #1
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One Spouse ER, the Other Not?

I have seen several members talk about being retired while there spouse continues to w*rk. I am in a similar situation. My SW w*rks part time from home. We now joke that since I am retired, she automatically became semi-retired rather than part-time. I have taken on several household duties. I actually make the bed most days. I do the grocery shopping and cook dinner fro the family. All things she did when I was w*rking. I have managed to start some projects around the house and actually finish some of them.

Still, most weekdays she is in her office, w*rking away for for half the day while I cruise forums and blog, watch Fox News, go fishing, smoke cigars, play guitar, sit on my front porch and chase kids off my lawn and complain about the government, etc. (just kidding, I don't have a lawn). she seems to be fine with it and has said as much. She knows she had it good for a lot of years while I commuted and hour to a j*b I had grown to loathe. Not that her part-time w*rk is all wine and roses, but it was part-time and at home.

Now people ask her if I am driving her crazy. She tells them she loves having me around. The kids bug me instead of interrupting her in the office. She says I am much happier and less grumpy. The household stuff I have taken on makes her life much easier. So many people predicted she would hate having me around. So far anyway, nothing could be further from the truth. However, sometimes it makes me feel a little guilty that I get to have all the fun and she has to w*rk.

Not really looking for advice. Just wondering how this all worked out for others whose spouse kept working. How about just suddenly spending all day together? Any problems? Slice of heaven or little bit of hell?
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:24 PM   #2
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:30 PM   #3
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I kind of know what you mean.
DW loves her job and has no intention of quitting, at least for the next few years. On the other hand, I FIREd about nine years ago and couldn't be happier.

On my side, I wish she were around home more, and I wish she could take more vacation with me, but we get by nicely. For her, the biggest part of her job is the social network she has. Working in HR, she knows pretty much everyone in the company, and she loves all the interaction.

So when we do get together, we enjoy each other's company to the max.

We have always been pretty independent people anyway, and we each take at least a week of vacation by ourselves every year, which is a great thing to do, IMHO.

DW is not highly paid, so it's not a money thing, she simply enjoys her co-workers so much, and enjoys feeling useful so much that she's very happy in her w*rk.

OTOH, I wasn't happy in my last job and was delighted when the big layoff came.
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:53 PM   #4
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My DH just retired in June, 2010 but he lost his job at the end of January so he's been home 7 months now.

I was used to a lot of time alone, so this has been a big change for me. I'm still working an itty, bitty part time job as a school crossing guard so I'm out early for an hour, home or free to run errands during the day and then out again in the afternoon. I still like to have my own schedule, I need some structure to my day.

DH has been on Saturday mode the whole time. He's really enjoying having no commitments, no one to answer to, no responsibilities except his garden. He's not sure what day it is, hasn't set his alarm since 1/29/10. I'm enjoying seeing him "play", he fools around on his computer a lot and goes for bike rides when he feels like it. Sometimes it's at 10AM, sometimes at 10PM.

I really don't mind him doing his own thing, as long as I can have some time alone and keep to the pace that I enjoy. Even if I didn't have to work 8-9am I would still get up by 7 because I enjoy morning and that's my busy time. I still have things I like to get out and do regularly like walking at the track and trips to the library.

I don't hassle him at all about his daily thing vs my daily thing. He worked the grind for over 30 years and he deserves this life of Saturdays. His pension covers everything we need, I don't have to work, I keep doing it because I enjoy it. I was the non-working spouse for 22 years and I like having a little income now even if it's just for savings.

He's been experimenting with recipes for stuff from the garden. I'm a very plain cook so I'm enjoying his contributions. I'm still doing the shopping and most of the meal planning but one of the best things about him being home is that he unloads groceries from the car while I put away the cold items. That's a real luxury to me since I always did it all by myself.

There are a few minor things that bug me about him being home all the time but I don't mention them. I'm still at the stage of being thrilled that he's retired (not unemployed) and that we can live on the pension without me having to get a better paying job.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:15 PM   #5
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I retired in March of 2007, but DW needs to work until 2015 to get paid health care in retirement. She enjoys her j*b as a teacher - most days. Like you, I have taken over cooking, shopping, most housework and maintaining the house. It really is not a big chore and I find that I have all the time I want to goof off. I never watch TV, though I enjoy several forums on the internet. As long as she is happy, I'm happy.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sue J View Post
He's not sure what day it is, hasn't set his alarm since 1/29/10.
My dad, whose been retired for twenty years, asked me the other day what September 6th was. I thought and I thought, but couldn't figure it out. then he informed it was Labor Day. I guess I don't know what day it is either. He then admitted he only knew because he was looking at the calender and there it was.


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There are a few minor things that bug me about him being home all the time but I don't mention them.
I'm sure there are plenty of little things I do that bug the DW.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:24 AM   #7
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There are some previous threads on this you could search for. I ERd 5 years before DW. I was always the cook but added chauffeuring (to and from work) to my tasks. It worked out fine.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:56 AM   #8
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This is our plan, so I hope it works as well as it has for the rest of you. DH is older than me, so I figure it is only fair that he gets to quit first. I hope that I will be gracious when he stops working for "the man" and (only somewhat facetiously) begins working for me.
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Old 09-03-2010, 09:40 AM   #9
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I suppose this is all common sense, but based on my experience and the comments here, I think a common thread is that the one who ER's, needs to pick up more of the routine tasks to "help out around the house." There needs to be a sense of "fairness" in how much effort each put into this and if the one still w*rking feels like the other is a lazy bum, that's when the problems start.

Sounds like you don't really have any issues, so just keep making that bed each day and you'll be fine. I'll do the same!
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Old 09-03-2010, 09:46 AM   #10
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When I stopped working everyone at home was happy - for a while. After a time it became clear that time off could become RE and we began having issues, some quite serious. The “I want whatever you want” became “don’t you have something to do somewhere else?”

DW and I faced issues we were both unprepared for. She is culturally geared to being the dominant figure in the household (born and raised in Latin America) and saw my presence at home as a conflict to that. It took time and effort to recognize and then address that and get us to the point where we are today: enjoying each other, family, and life.

FIRE works when both spouses are committed to making it happen.
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Old 09-03-2010, 09:57 AM   #11
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DW is still working. My mother told me to learn how to cook and marry a doctor, so I did. In 35 years if I was at home and not sick she never cooked a meal. I always ironed her business suits. I have always done all the grocery shopping. I always went on the school field trips with the kids (me and the moms). Biggest luxury is we pay some hard working legal green card immigrants to maintain the yard and an American citizen to occasionally sanitize the kitchen to prevent food poisoning . When I took Emeritus status I became her chauffeur. I drive her to work and pick her up. There is a very nice coffee shop next door with Internet.





Our plan is to eventually work the same number of years. I am currently working 1/3 time.
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Old 09-05-2010, 01:47 AM   #12
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Not really looking for advice. Just wondering how this all worked out for others whose spouse kept working. How about just suddenly spending all day together? Any problems? Slice of heaven or little bit of hell?
We love spending the whole day together, especially when we're by ourselves.

But it helps to come from common backgrounds-- same college, similar Navy careers, same expectations on maintenance, sanitation, & hygiene.

I've been kidding our daughter that since she's moved out, my spouse has no one to nag and will eventually turn that attention in my direction. But it hasn't happened, and I doubt it will.

She's been on travel since Sunday, won't be back until Monday, and I have to admit that I've missed her a lot. But at least she didn't have to suffer with me during the ugly projects that I got done in her absence.
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:48 AM   #13
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No slice of heaven here. I was the saver, LBYM all my life while she just did not care or have a plan to RE. She is not high maint. She likes her job and has about 4 years left to get the full package. She will get a nice pension and is happy with that. Now every subject/conversation ends with either 'get a job' or 'If you had a job'.

We were watching the space station go over the other night and she even worked those quotes into the conversation. It was like "If you had a job we could get a space station of our own, na, na, na, na".

She goes to dog shows on the weekends and I now plan roadtrips every 2 months for hiking, fishing, and visiting friends. Next one is 2 week motorcycle trip in CA.

It is a work in progress.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:20 AM   #14
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DW FIRED a few years ago. I am still w*rking.

Things are going well. They will be going better when I FIRE next year!
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:41 AM   #15
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I love it, I think he does too. I stopped formally working about 5 years ago accepting a deferred comp arrangment from family business. Husband has own small CPA firm in a small town about 45 minutes away. I always worked, raised the children, ran ALL the errands, house, yard, all home projects...etc.....basically did almost everything associated with home and children while I also worked... while he "worked" his business. So....after I stopped working...those things I used to pay people to do, I took on myself..such as cleaning the house...etc. I have more time to do these things than when I was VP of a family business. All the children are now adults. Husband has never....thrown it in my face that I am not working. Because darn it...I am working...I just don't get paid for it.! Granted..I can do it at my pace...and wonder sometimes how I ever did it before! I was always "turned on and turned up"..running a mile a minute with not enough hours in the day. I hated it so much that I still cringe when I remember the pressure of how I use to spend my days.
Husband has not yet retired...and I am not sure how that will work. I think it will be fine...as he plays golf and will have more than enough golf buddies to occupy his time. There may be an opportunity to work for him...as his office manager just gave notice. He has asked me if I want it...and I don't know. Don't know how much togetherness I can take....because I'm independent and like to do my own thing. Certainly smarter to keep the money in the family.....but...we can make it without my having to do that. It's just that...while I can physically work...I think I "should" because one day there may come a time when I can't. There is of course, the fact that my siblings...throw it in my face "that I am not working"...as if that is any of their business.
Isn't it odd how....not working causes amnesia in some of your friends and family members.....like them conveniently forgetting you actually DID work for 30 plus years and have 2 degrees and all of a sudden they place you in the "not to be taken seriously bucket since you don't work"...and they still are working (but it is because they either decided to build million dollar homes..or buy 2nd homes..in 2006)....grrr.....
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:28 PM   #16
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One Spouse ER, the Other Not?
Let's see...one of your spouses retired early but the other one is still working.
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Old 09-05-2010, 01:25 PM   #17
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Let's see...one of your spouses retired early but the other one is still working.
OK, MMND has addressed that issue in her own inimitable fashion. Not gonna go there again.

But here's a different situation with the same issues. In my case spouse has started volunteering, which is rapidly evolving into unpaid work. She's spent this last week on the Mainland for training with one non-profit and she spends an average of 1-2 days/week at various volunteer activities. Over the next six months we'll probably have a month of non-profit travel. Hey, someone has to keep track of her luggage.

Some days she comes home sweaty, sore, and tired from physical activity. Other days she's been outside all day with little shelter or hydration. Other days she's been trapped in a meeting room for 4-6 hours with the kind of people we used to avoid during department-head meetings and her brain is buzzing at high volume.

Let's just say that the process is different but the result (especially the drama) has not changed. When she returns home then for the next hour or two there will be a certain amount of recovery and venting, mostly in a good way, but it could turn ugly at the drop of a hat. When she comes through the door on those days I have learned that it's not an especially salubrious time to twitch back to wakefulness, put down my fourth frosty beverage, stop posting to E-R.org, and say "Dude, sorry about the mess but today's surfing was awesome! What are we doing about dinner?"

I used to think that nobody could do fraud, waste, and abuse like the military or the U.S. government. But on a per capita basis, start-up companies and charitable organizations are gunning for the lead. We're not looking for jobs, but there are days when we run out of cynical & pejorative substitutions for words like "pathetic".
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Old 09-05-2010, 01:54 PM   #18
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I used to think that nobody could do fraud, waste, and abuse like the military or the U.S. government. But on a per capita basis, start-up companies and charitable organizations are gunning for the lead. .



IMHO I think you have to differentiate waste fraud and abuse.

Waste - Spending money on crap because you are brain dead stupid
Fraud Spending money on crap because someone gets a cut
Abuse Spending money on crap because someone has an ulterior motive that benefits from the misspending

Universities have very little fraud some abuse but lots of waste.
Charities tend to have less waste and fraud but lots of abuse
In both cases the beneficiaries are insiders
The military has lots of waste fraud and abuse but most of it benefits people outside the military
The civilian government has less fraud and waste than the military but possibly even more abuse.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:12 PM   #19
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I suppose this is all common sense, but based on my experience and the comments here, I think a common thread is that the one who ER's, needs to pick up more of the routine tasks to "help out around the house." There needs to be a sense of "fairness" in how much effort each put into this and if the one still w*rking feels like the other is a lazy bum, that's when the problems start.

Sounds like you don't really have any issues, so just keep making that bed each day and you'll be fine. I'll do the same!
Honestly, after reading these I realized DW and I did this before. 8 years ago she quit her full time job when we moved to the country. Originally she was going to just be a housewife/stay-at-home-mom, but an opportunity came along for her to work from home part-time. Originally, she was going to do most the house stuff and I was going to earn the money. When her at-home part-time job came along, some of that shifted back to me, but we worked out an equitable system. I made it sound easy. It wasn't. there were lots of arguments about who was doing more.

I guess this time around the idea of balancing out the work came naturally. That and the kids are old enough to do most of it now
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:33 PM   #20
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We're pretty lucky, IMO. We've been together most of 24 hrs/day for the last 4 years, and we get along great. She has started doing Reiki, which gives her some time away from me, but only a few hours/week. She goes to bed a couple hours before I do, so I have a little alone time. But for the most part we are together, working on the same chores or whatever. We have many of the same interests, and enjoy each other's company a lot. I do like live music and she doesn't like the crowds, but other than that we're pretty in sync. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the coming years.
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