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When one half is still working
Old 05-28-2016, 10:29 AM   #1
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When one half is still working

My DBF expects to retire this summer. I still have a two or three years to go. With him free every day and me still schlepping off to work, I'm expecting to experience a variety of emotions and possible benefits. I'll be glad that he's finally exited an unpleasant work situation. He says he'll free up some of our weekend time by doing various chores during the week. Maybe there'll be dinner on the table some nights? He's mentioned these things, but we haven't sat down and discussed expectations in detail. Maybe we should?

We've been together 21 years, and communicate pretty well, but possibly the new gap in our lifestyles will cause some unavoidable resentments. For the couples out there with half REd, what sorts of relationship issues did you run into? Any advice?
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:47 AM   #2
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My DBF expects to retire this summer. I still have a two or three years to go. With him free every day and me still schlepping off to work, I'm expecting to experience a variety of emotions and possible benefits. I'll be glad that he's finally exited an unpleasant work situation. He says he'll free up some of our weekend time by doing various chores during the week. Maybe there'll be dinner on the table some nights? He's mentioned these things, but we haven't sat down and discussed expectations in detail. Maybe we should?

We've been together 21 years, and communicate pretty well, but possibly the new gap in our lifestyles will cause some unavoidable resentments. For the couples out there with half REd, what sorts of relationship issues did you run into? Any advice?
Frank and I don't live together, but this is our 17th year together. When we retired, I was the first to retire and he couldn't for another 3 months or so because he was laid off and retired all at once. Actually in our case I thought that worked out well. I had a lot of time to adjust to retirement by myself, and figure out what I wanted to do and so on. He says he felt encouraged by seeing that I was retired and enjoying it, and that made it seem more real to him that he, too, was going to retire. While he was still working, we saw one another only about as much as we did while both of us were working. He didn't resent anything because he is a really sweet guy and also because he knew he'd be retiring soon too.

Then when he retired, he kind of "tagged along" with me at first as I went about my retirement activities, and then we modified things more to his liking - - for example, I was going to the gym 5 days/week in the mornings, and he just wanted to go 3 days in the afternoons, so I adapted to that. He also added activities that we could do together, such as eating lunch out together every day.

I think that if we had both retired at once, maybe there would have been more conflict because we would both have been going through that initial adjustment at once. Because my retirement was earlier than his, he could use it as sort of a loose framework for his retirement, so we weren't at a loss, looking for stuff to do, and so on.

In our case, there was only 3 months to deal with so I'm not sure if this is any help.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:50 AM   #3
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I worked an additional year so my DGF could retire with me at 45 years old...

If he expects to be free, and travel, you need to be able to take time off. Even a weekend away may create some discomfort.

Start planning on retiring earlier, or him getting another job to help. Doing the dishes only goes so far.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:56 AM   #4
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When I retired, DW said she planned to keep working even though we were well over FI. However since I know her so well, I was sure after a few months, she'd say 'why am I still working' - and she'd retire too. That was five years ago...

She has had several costly health issues, I think that's why she is still working (beats paying full on for health insurance). She also still likes her job & boss (most days), but her boss is in his 70's and she thinks she'll retire when he does rather than breaking in a new boss - though she says she'll 'see what they offer her when he retires.' Though she jokes about it, she's also gotten used to have all her meals taken care of 7 days/week, might be a small factor.

I am happy to do all the cooking, laundry, errands and much of the housework.

The adjustment hasn't been tough for us. Frankly, I think it's going to be a bigger adjustment when we're both home 7 days/week, but we will see. IMO we both have to maintain some personal lives/friends/interests apart from each other, as well as together.

Communication is probably the only universal requirement as the OP mentioned. However every relationship is different, so comparing notes with others will be hit or miss IMO. Best of luck...
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:56 AM   #5
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I've been retired 9 years while my DW has schlepped off the work. I've stepped up and make dinner on "work" days, shop and take care of the house and lawn. With no kids to care for, it doesn't take much of my time.

DW is happy not to have to worry about these tasks, I'm happy not to put up with commuting and dealing with the politics and stress of work.

I can say that at times she resents my freedom, but I earned it and I do all I can to make her working life easier.

She retires next month, so we'll have to renegotiate the responsibilities.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:31 AM   #6
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I've been retired almost 3 years; DW is still working. We are FI, but she enjoys the routine. No resentment, because she's working by choice, not because she has to.

I think that regardless of the situation, a relationship works best when each person is pulling their weight, i.e. doing about the same amount, whether it's going to the office and earning money, taking care of kids, or doing chores at home. We have that balance. When we were both going into the office, we each did about the same amount around the house. Now that I have a lot more free time, I do a lot more at home.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:36 AM   #7
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what sorts of relationship issues did you run into? Any advice?
DW and I are approximately the same age. DW retired first at 55, took a full year off, then did some light duty, part time work until 62. I fully retired at 58. So, we've experienced her fully retired with me still full time employed, her working part time and me working full time, her working part time and me fully retired and finally both fully retired.

The golden rule we used through all this was to expect no more from the less-employed spouse than you'd gladly and willingly do if the situations were reversed. It worked OK. I recall that during that first year when I was still full time and she was fully retired, I had some moments when I thought she could be getting a bit more done during the week so we'd have more time for fun on weekends. I was surprised at how much time she spent visiting with already retired girlfriends, at the health club, helping her elderly mom and renewing hobby activities. But I was able to moderate my feelings by reminding myself that if I had retired first, those are things I'd likely be doing too. When she decided to do some substitute teaching, our shared chore distribution remained the same but seemed more equitable (to me) since she was then working a few hours per week.

When I retired and she was still working part time, I think she thought I was doing enough, at least there were no comments to the contrary.

Definitions of what's a chore and whats a personal activity vary too. When DW started doing water aerobics at the health club three mornings a week, I thought "how nice, a fun activity for her." She, otoh, definitely considered it a chore.

It all kind of evened out but does require the ability to think things through before saying anything to the other and to think realistically about how you'd like things to be if you were the one no longer working outside the home.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:45 PM   #8
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DH stopped working earlier this year and I am still working.

I had a lot of "small worries" about how the change would impact our dynamic, but it's been really pleasant. We retained our old split of chores, but I've noticed that when I get swamped with work he jumps in to lighten my load. He's done some grocery runs. He even volunteered to take on some administrative tasks that I hate (like invoicing customers). I didn't expect him to do these things but I really appreciate his considerateness.

We did have some short chats about "our expectations" as his resignation approached. I affirmed my need for quiet time, especially in the morning. He talked about his interest in spending more time with his Dad. We agreed my decision to work wasn't permanent, I'd work as much or as little as I wanted to. Stuff like that.

In the end, the transition has been great and none of my nebulous worries have come to pass.

I suppose one thing I'm realizing as I'm typing this is that it never occurred to me that DH needed to do more chores simply because I'm working and he isn't. After all, he's earned his time off. And after so many years of splitting chores, it won't kill me to keep doing the dishes.

As long as I'm careful with the knives.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:13 PM   #9
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Seems that alot of folks have good experiences when one ERs and the other w*rks. Here is the other side of the coin.

Before I retired a year ago at 52 (DH was 56) we discussed ad nauseam the financial implications and potential resentment issues. The only way I would retire was for DH to keep working so that we could have affordable health care, even though technically I the 30k / year I have the budget is enough to purchase an ACA plan. With ACA still new ground, and my employer no longer offering retiree health care, I was unwilling to have all my eggs in the ACA basket. We agreed that I should retire since over the 30+ years we've been married he's had several periods of unemployment (union jobs with mandatory layoffs so that others could work), and more recently is a school bus driver with summers off. He likes his job but doesn't "love" it.

While we used to share in the cooking and cleaning I have taken over 100%. We eat home every day (have since the beginning of time) except for twice monthly pizza or dinner out.

I'm sorry to say that DH is now resentful. Just last week he said "you gave up a $100K+ a year job, if you worked a few more years we could have both retired together". ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ! We had discussed all this and he assured me that he was happy for me and would not be jealous. That his time off was spread over several years (mandatory layoffs and summers) and I would be getting all that time back in one lump sum. It doesn't impact daily life but there are times when jealous rears its evil head. I never expected him to feel this way and I've actually thought that maybe I should at least work part time to comfort him.

I don't really know what I would have done differently to avoid the jealousy. Maybe get his agreement in writing, which seems so silly since we discussed and discussed and discussed and agreed and agreed and agreed prior.

Hopefully YMMV
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:51 PM   #10
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It's 3 years for me, while DW continues to work by choice. She likes what she does, and no resentment. Closest thing to an exception was when she wouldn't let me buy a new fancy bike for some $7000, for the silly reason that my current bike is less than 3 years old.
She said if I went back to work full time I could buy the bike. That was too big price.
We had several discussions before my ER, and I specifically asked her if she would resent me not working and she repeatedly said no. And it's worked out.
A friend of mine is not so lucky. He retired (at age 65 1/2), against his wife's wishes. She's 3 years younger than he. It's been 5 months now, and he's not happy at all because his wife remains resentful.
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:06 PM   #11
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Well, I've got a lot of sympathy for Live&Learn. And her DH, too.
My husband quit nearly 3 years ago, we've been married 23 years. I will need to work another 5 years. He's older by 8 years.
Although he means well, he never learned to cook, so that's still on my plate, along with groceries and all the finances. He travels a lot, mostly boys' trips, and he picks up odd jobs to pay for those.

I am sometimes resentful of his freedom. He is sometimes irritated with my expectations.

Most of the time we stifle those, but it does come out every now and again. If your marriage has handled the ups and downs til now, it will likely weather the uneven retirement as well. So far ours has, and we just take it day by day.

Talking about what's up, without fear of recrimination, is pretty darned important. Revisiting expectations and adjusting for new situations has to be done fairly often.

Good luck to you. I guess my key advice would be don't expect it to be easy, for either party.
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:23 PM   #12
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Lots of good experiences and insights here --thanks!

A main concern for me is getting enough free time apart, as Midpack noted. I don't expect to be miffed if DBF takes off for a week, or even more. Actually, I relish having the house to myself sometimes. We've taken a number of trips apart to pursue separate interests, and it's worked out so far. I once ditched the whole family for a month that included the Thanksgiving holiday to go to Japan. DBF insisted on picking me up at the airport on return, though I'd have been fine taking the shuttle home, especially considering the awful traffic here in Seattle.

Possibly too, I might want to work a little longer than planned, or work part time. That might cause some resentment on his part. I've brought that up a time or two, but as Live And Learn learned, reality can bite!
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:40 PM   #13
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I don't really know what I would have done differently to avoid the jealousy. Maybe get his agreement in writing, which seems so silly since we discussed and discussed and discussed and agreed and agreed and agreed prior.
Sorry to hear that's happening, but I suspect there's nothing you could have done. This is like one more year syndrome - some people live with uncertainty better than others. It may not be resentment but fear.

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Possibly too, I might want to work a little longer than planned, or work part time. That might cause some resentment on his part. I've brought that up a time or two, but as Live And Learn learned, reality can bite!
Take care, one more year has a tendency to last longer than one year.
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Old 05-28-2016, 03:11 PM   #14
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We had 2.5 years between when I ER'd and when DW retired full time. My early retirement was sudden and the timing unexpected (I got fired).

After a few hours of being dazed, I realized we were close enough to FI to call my termination my early retirement. In discussing our finances and FIRE plan with DW, we decided she could join me at any time and started making plans to quit.

As it happens sometimes once you no longer need a job, she was able to negotiate fat raises and bonuses to retain her, then a five week paid sabbatical my first summer of ER so we could do a big vacation. Then they promised her another 3 months paid sabbatical if she stuck around till the following year. She took it month by month and managed to make it to the next summer (and picked up another fat raise and bonus in the meantime). Shortly after returning from that second sabbatical, she put in her notice at which point they moved her to part time work from home for full time pay as long as she wanted. That lasted six months until she quit this February.

The whole time we were taking it month by month and she knew she could quit whenever, so there wasn't a lot of stress or expectations on her. It was relatively easy money with a clearly defined escape route. I'll confess to the tiniest bit of resentment directed her way because the work schedule slightly interfered with possible last minute travel options (though kids in traditional school were the bigger impediment).

Along the way there was probably some resentment from her since I had a very nice schedule. But I took care of just about everything (other than folding and sorting laundry) including waking up before 8 every weekday to get the kids to school then picking them up in the PM. I had dinner ready every day to accommodate her schedule. Grocery shopping and other errands I took care of during the day. Took kids to the doc and dentist appts. Basically stay at home dad, maid, handyman, auto mechanic, gardener, etc so all she had to do was show up to work 20-40 hours per week and collect a pay check.

Going from two of us working to one increased quality of life greatly. Her evenings and weekends were once again free (other than the laundry folding lol). Walks in the park, attending evening events with the kids or around town. Having time to watch a movie or play some games during the workweek instead of dealing with kid-related stuff.

After her ER, it's been even better.
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:34 AM   #15
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DH is 15 years older than I am and when we married, I was 50 and he was 65. We also moved halfway across the country for my job right after that. He continued to do some freelance work for clients of the ad agency he used to work for, maybe a few hours a week from home, so nothing really strenuous.

In our case, I think it worked so well because he was 65, had worked and taken care of other people all his life, and it was a reasonable age to quit FT work. Also, having previously been married to a couch potato with a drinking problem, it was a joy to come home to someone who was cooking dinner. Car maintenance, pool maintenance, waiting for the cable people, comparison shopping for work to be done on the house- he did it all. He even bought a car while I was out of the country (I HATE buying cars and he narrowed it down to a few and sent pictures so we could make a final selection). I could go on a business trip and the house was taken care of. OK, he wasn't a great housekeeper and he let weeds proliferate in the garden, but I decided not to make a war over that.

When my BS bucket was full at age 61 and I was contemplating retiring 4 years earlier than planned, he said, "this is really selfish of me, but I'd like it if you were home".

I think it worked for us because DH was at a normal retirement age anyway and he took so much on the domestic front off my shoulders. I also really loved my work till the politics got bad.
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Old 05-29-2016, 09:13 AM   #16
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We sort of dealt with that off and on in our 24 years together. For most of it I worked in a stressful job where the BS bucket filled quickly (the later it got in my career, the faster it filled up) while DW was in and out of jobs, trying new careers, going in and out of school for a while. It was a challenge for me sometimes but I wanted her to be happy. When she finally figured out "what she wanted to be when she grew up" (she was around 42 at the time), she went back into seminary while I kept working. A couple years later, she had a stable position as a minister with a salary we could live on.... and six weeks later, I was laid off. For the last several years I had been earning just into six figures.

Then the roles reversed. I was the unemployed "slacker" and she was the one bringing home the bacon, so to speak. Like you, she was very happy for me that I got out of an increasingly toxic work situation and such, and she saw me developing a much more mellow and pleasant demeanor almost immediately. She was ready to "carry me" for a while like that because I carried her for a long time like that. I've since returned to work part time -- partly for something to do and partly because it has great benefits for a job that only eats about 25 hours a week of my time. For now it's a pretty good configuration for both of us, especially since her call is considered to be about a 25-hour weekly responsibility anyway!

I guess the key is to communicate and make sure there is no resentment. The one who isn't working should probably be picking up more of the errands and the household chores than the one who is still working (not 100% of them... but most of them. And if they can take the tasks the working spouse finds the most unpleasant, even better -- makes it more of a "win-win situation" for both of you). It's often not a money issue but rather a "division of household labor" issue, both in and out of the home.

If one of you (usually the working spouse or partner) starts feeling "put upon" and starts feeling a need to keep score, it's time to talk about roles and expectations. That's when resentment could fester and something that could easily be addressed and resolved early on can blow up into something pretty bad. I think DW and I have been really fortunate and it has worked very well for us over the years because neither of us have ever really felt that need to "keep score".
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Old 05-29-2016, 09:51 AM   #17
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The only way I would retire was for DH to keep working so that we could have affordable health care, even though technically I the 30k / year I have the budget is enough to purchase an ACA plan.
I'm guessing this is the root of your problem. You really wanted to retire but wanted DH to continue to have a job that provided health insurance, even though you could easily afford to go with ACA and have him retire as well.

If DW and I were in your situation, we'd both be fully retired. Just the way we look at things. What you guys are doing is an example of the OMY scenario where you're financially independent but nervous about pulling the plug because you don't trust ACA.

There's a huge difference between both members of a couple being fully retired and having one work full or part time, especially if having the freedom to do the things you worked all those years to be able to do is important to you.

Is the extra security really worth it? Do you really think there is a significant chance ACA will go away? Will you demand DH drive that school bus for more than a decade until you're 65 and qualify for Medicare?

You folks have to do what you're comfortable with of course. But those are my thoughts on your situation.
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Old 05-29-2016, 02:24 PM   #18
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I'm guessing this is the root of your problem. You really wanted to retire but wanted DH to continue to have a job that provided health insurance, even though you could easily afford to go with ACA and have him retire as well.

If DW and I were in your situation, we'd both be fully retired. Just the way we look at things. What you guys are doing is an example of the OMY scenario where you're financially independent but nervous about pulling the plug because you don't trust ACA.

There's a huge difference between both members of a couple being fully retired and having one work full or part time, especially if having the freedom to do the things you worked all those years to be able to do is important to you.

Is the extra security really worth it? Do you really think there is a significant chance ACA will go away? Will you demand DH drive that school bus for more than a decade until you're 65 and qualify for Medicare?

You folks have to do what you're comfortable with of course. But those are my thoughts on your situation.
My hope is that he would work 4 more years, until he is 62. By then we'll know the situation with ACA and the continuing skyrocketing costs of healthcare. We both have pretty significant pre-existing conditions so anyone who wants to completely "repeal and replace" ACA is scary to me. Worst case is that DH works 7 years until he is 65 and on Medicare. Keep in mind that he was a combined total of 12 weeks vacation a year.

In all honesty I carry a bit of resentment also since I've been the main breadwinner all our careers, and for the past 12 years have made 10x what he does because he didn't want to continue in his old career when we moved to Florida. The saying "pay me now, or pay me later" comes to mind". Or perhaps even "paybacks a b*tch". Terrible, aren't I ?
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Old 05-29-2016, 02:34 PM   #19
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My hope is that he would work 4 more years, until he is 62. By then we'll know the situation with ACA and the continuing skyrocketing costs of healthcare. We both have pretty significant pre-existing conditions so anyone who wants to completely "repeal and replace" ACA is scary to me. Worst case is that DH works 7 years until he is 65 and on Medicare.
Yeah, I know the feeling, sort of. I thought I was pretty much retired three years ago after my layoff (I was 47 at the time). Now I find myself wondering if I can make it until April 2025 in my current gig (possible, maybe, if I remain in good health, can keep working part time and my BS bucket continues to fill rather slowly). That's because that would put me in at 10 years of career employee status and allow me to file for immediate retirement including highly subsidized retiree health insurance. Coincidentally, that would also be the month I turned 59 1/2, so I'd be able to start freely taking as-needed distributions from my IRA and/or 401K and/or TSP as desired.

The more it looks like ACA is unraveling in terms of costs rising and networks shrinking -- and PPO options are becoming rare in the individual market -- the more likely I am to feel like I should hold on for (almost) "nine more years" to maintain good, affordable health insurance for us. Of course, changes to our health care system before that time could make it less desirable to wait that long to fully retire, and for good.
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Old 05-29-2016, 04:19 PM   #20
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Michigan
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DW retired from a bank last fall when they told her she could not take unpaid time off to travel with me on my 6 weeks of vacation. She said yes she could and quit. The extra income was nice but far from essential for us. I still had 1 1/2 years to RE. In Jan a friend of hers asked if she would be interested in providing child care (paid) for her granddaughter and she said yes. It is only 3 days a week and she loves it. Probably won't last through the year, but has already gone longer than originally arranged. I am OK with things either way. If DW is working we can spend more, but if not then she is home more. Both have value.
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