Author Topic: Getting spouse on board  (Read 7665 times)

spokey doke

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Getting spouse on board
« on: January 29, 2015, 08:33:20 AM »
So my wife and I are both savings oriented, generally frugal about many things, but like MMM, we have plenty of luxurious indulgences that we cherish, but any time I talk retirement, she talks about a 5-10 year window of continuing work for both of us, and then worries about what I will do next.  We are basically at our number to enable us to live off of a bit MORE than what we currently spend right now.  I'm completely burned out on my career, she likes hers. We are in our 40's and I'm fully capable of earning some additional income, but would like to just decompress, work on our house, grow food in the backyard, and live the life of a mustachian.

If I get serious in pleading discontent, she affirms that she'll support whatever decision I make, then clearly gets upset about the prospect of quitting my career (there would be no going back).

Advice about getting a reluctant spouse on board?

SD
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 12:38:14 PM by spokey doke »

MooseOutFront

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 08:38:44 AM »
This is kind of a unique reluctant spouse situation.  So you're saying that you could both quit and live on more than you spend now, but she likes her career and worries about what you would do?  Sounds to me like you get to retire first!  I would develop as complete a plan for yourself over the next 12 months as possible without worrying about how on board she is.  Over that time it will probably become pretty clear that this isn't a whim.  Plus you will theoretically be further along on setting up alternative income streams.  Then when you pull the plug, do so assuming she keeps working.

JCricket

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 08:47:15 AM »
I've never been married, so this should have a grain of salt, but it sounds to me like she's worried about how the status quo will change, not really about you actually going to work everyday. I think this could be allayed by talking to her about her actual worries and laying out a plan to address them/a plan to reevaluate in the future how well the worries have been avoided. If it's 'what you'll do', lay out a general plan of interests you want to explore,  possible future projects post-decompressing, etc. and promise to talk about it again at some set time in the future so she knows the door isn't shut on the topic if her concerns are realized.

eyePod

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2015, 08:56:04 AM »
Would she be open to you either doing part time work or quitting but having her still work? What are your post-retirement plans that her working would stop you from doing? Traveling? something else?

retired?

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 09:11:53 AM »
So my wife and I are both savings oriented, generally frugal about many things, and like MMM, we have plenty of luxurious indulgences that we cherish, but any time I talk retirement, she talks about a 5-10 year window of continuing work for both of us, and then worries about what I will do next.  We are basically at our number to enable us to live off of a bit MORE than what we currently spend right now.  I'm completely burned out on my career, she likes hers. We are in our 40's and I'm fully capable of earning some additional income, but would like to just decompress, work on our house, grow food in the backyard, and live the life of a mustachian.

If I get serious in pleading discontent, she affirms that I she'll support whatever decision I make, then clearly gets upset about the prospect of quitting my career (there would be no going back).

Advice about getting a reluctant spouse on board?

SD

My wife was the same RE supporting any decision.  I was burnt out as well and I took her up on it and quit last Spring.  Also, there may not be any going back for me (I'm 45).  She had been SAHM, but started a part-time job several months after I quit.  She knows the net worth components and she knows our expenses.

The difference in our situations may be that my wife isn't quite a believer (hence the part-time job) whereas it sounds like your wife knows you are already FI.  Other diff is that while you and I were burnt out, my wife was SAHM and your wife has a job she loves.

I did grow food, worked on house, decompressed.  It's been good.  But, I expect to get another job sometime soon.  With two kids in school and a wife that is now gone during the day, it does feel like there is a little too much free time.  Also, you won't find a bunch of 40-somethings that have free time during the week.  So, aside from what some here think, it can be hard to fill your time if others in your family are still "on a schedule".

It could be a worry that you won't do anything and have different sorts of lives.  Perhaps explain it as wanting to take 6-12 months off and then moving on to something else.

If you are fine with $$ situation you should do it, and if you agree on the $$ situation, you should definitely do it.

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 09:14:34 AM »
eyePod - Her continuing to work doesn't cause me any problems, other than the slight perception of being a deadbeat and some resentment of me not earning my keep, while she works to subsidize my lifestyle (even though it isn't necessary).

She also thinks I'm lucky to have the career I have (full prof) and that I should be taking advantage of it to do something meaningful, and that I'll still be unhappy if I quit and don't have satisfying work (I disagree and think living well, having time to volunteer in the community, etc. would be most satisfying).


lackofstache

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 09:15:31 AM »
I'd develop a plan, showing how much money you'll be using, how much you've got & how the numbers work. If she's still nervous, start by putting all of your income in savings & living off of her salary plus the amount you'd withdraw in the future to show it can work. But don't forget one of the biggest changes you may see, that since you won't have a job, you'll have more time to take care of things around the home; laundry, dishes, dinner, house projects, grocery shopping, etc. In addition to being able to retire for yourself, you'll also be able to make her life much easier & much less hectic.

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 09:17:28 AM »
So my wife and I are both savings oriented, generally frugal about many things, and like MMM, we have plenty of luxurious indulgences that we cherish, but any time I talk retirement, she talks about a 5-10 year window of continuing work for both of us, and then worries about what I will do next.  We are basically at our number to enable us to live off of a bit MORE than what we currently spend right now.  I'm completely burned out on my career, she likes hers. We are in our 40's and I'm fully capable of earning some additional income, but would like to just decompress, work on our house, grow food in the backyard, and live the life of a mustachian.

If I get serious in pleading discontent, she affirms that I she'll support whatever decision I make, then clearly gets upset about the prospect of quitting my career (there would be no going back).

Advice about getting a reluctant spouse on board?

SD

My wife was the same RE supporting any decision.  I was burnt out as well and I took her up on it and quit last Spring.  Also, there may not be any going back for me (I'm 45).  She had been SAHM, but started a part-time job several months after I quit.  She knows the net worth components and she knows our expenses.

The difference in our situations may be that my wife isn't quite a believer (hence the part-time job) whereas it sounds like your wife knows you are already FI.  Other diff is that while you and I were burnt out, my wife was SAHM and your wife has a job she loves.

I did grow food, worked on house, decompressed.  It's been good.  But, I expect to get another job sometime soon.  With two kids in school and a wife that is now gone during the day, it does feel like there is a little too much free time.  Also, you won't find a bunch of 40-somethings that have free time during the week.  So, aside from what some here think, it can be hard to fill your time if others in your family are still "on a schedule".

It could be a worry that you won't do anything and have different sorts of lives.  Perhaps explain it as wanting to take 6-12 months off and then moving on to something else.

If you are fine with $$ situation you should do it, and if you agree on the $$ situation, you should definitely do it.

She knows our finances well, but isn't quite a believer in the viability of the plan.

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 09:21:02 AM »
I'd develop a plan, showing how much money you'll be using, how much you've got & how the numbers work. If she's still nervous, start by putting all of your income in savings & living off of her salary plus the amount you'd withdraw in the future to show it can work. But don't forget one of the biggest changes you may see, that since you won't have a job, you'll have more time to take care of things around the home; laundry, dishes, dinner, house projects, grocery shopping, etc. In addition to being able to retire for yourself, you'll also be able to make her life much easier & much less hectic.

I've made the latter case, and she knows that her life would be better with me happier and doing the housework (she experienced much of that when I had a sabbatical and especially appreciated my cooking). 

In addition to all the good recommendations, I may need to make some promises to her.

Goldielocks

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 09:21:39 AM »

She also thinks I'm lucky to have the career I have (full prof) and that I should be taking advantage of it to do something meaningful, and that I'll still be unhappy if I quit and don't have satisfying work (I disagree and think living well, having time to volunteer in the community, etc. would be most satisfying).

Our SO's sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.

What about a sabbatical or leave of absence to test it out?
Or find that volunteer position that you want to move into (after a break) and try that once or twice now?

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 09:46:32 AM »
Sabbatical is 3.5 years out. and my uni has a record of denying personal leave requests.

The volunteer thing now would mean increasing the stress of all the damn things I have to juggle.  Even if I had the time, my mind is suffering from just too many things to attend to.  I want to strip away all that and have the space to single-task.

retired?

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 09:49:09 AM »
eyePod - Her continuing to work doesn't cause me any problems, other than the slight perception of being a deadbeat and some resentment of me not earning my keep, while she works to subsidize my lifestyle (even though it isn't necessary).

She also thinks I'm lucky to have the career I have (full prof) and that I should be taking advantage of it to do something meaningful, and that I'll still be unhappy if I quit and don't have satisfying work (I disagree and think living well, having time to volunteer in the community, etc. would be most satisfying).

deadbeat....dealing with that perception now, but I think it is only in my head. 

Right - as you say, she isn't subsidizing your life.  Sometimes people disagree on big things.  When I quit, I considered the same things and just realized I might have to defend myself.  If you don't reach a middle ground, one of you will be unhappy (hopefully, temporarily).  The difference is that your source of unhappiness is real and hers in in perception.  No psych major here, though.

Now I see what you mean about "no going back".  Full prof.  Nice.  Sounds like you've already done the sabbatical recently.  I've heard of full profs changing their area of study with no consequences.  I guess I'd push your current job to the limit of flexibility prior to quitting.  If that doesn't help, then quit.  Would taking a year at another university help?

Also, ask is there any thing your department could change that would keep you.  If there is, then ask for it.

MayDay

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2015, 09:50:03 AM »
Could you move to emeritus status?

I assume there are good and bad parts about your job.  My old university happily calls back emeritus professors to teach the occasional class, and if they want they can keep their office, attend department meetings, advise undergrads, etc.  Maybe you can find the good parts of your job and negotiate to keep doing them, and leave the rest.  Or find out if there are any odd part time or seasonal things outside your department that you could do.  That way rather than retiring altogether, you are just taking on a different (albeit much less than FT) role. 

If she isn't worried about the salary it leaves you lots of room to negotiate a sort of "mostly volunteer" role where you are still involved.  Or it certainly doesn't have to even be with the university- start reaching out to non-profits or start-ups in your area that might be interested in your expertise on a PT basis.  My uncle has a business background, and retired early at age 56.  He now advises 3 different professor who are trying to get start-ups off the ground on a volunteer basis.  Then if any of them takes off he can basically name his job (or not!).  Obviously this kind of thing is heavily dependent on your department, though.

Goldielocks

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 11:03:16 AM »
Sabbatical is 3.5 years out. and my uni has a record of denying personal leave requests.

The volunteer thing now would mean increasing the stress of all the damn things I have to juggle.  Even if I had the time, my mind is suffering from just too many things to attend to.  I want to strip away all that and have the space to single-task.

do you have vacation saved up or can take a long break at end of term.? I think that a mini retirement of 6 weeks at home, while testing a few hours at a couple of different charities would serve me well in your shoes.

You need an extended time off to even make this kind of choice. Sounds like a lot of stress right now. Don't let a medical stress leave make the choice for you.  Best wishes.

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2015, 11:09:02 AM »
No on emeritus.

The (that is, MY) basic plan now is that despite having reached our number, I'll stay at it at least for 2 more years, wrap up my publishing, try to get in some academic travel, and then quit...or the slightly longer version is to stay on through the next sabbatical (which requires an extra year following it) which keeps me in the game 5 more years.  Certainly not the end of the world, but I want out sooner.

On the deadbeat front, she has brought more $$$ overall to the stash, and if you add on her continuing to work while I retire, along with some of her sacrifices for my career, then the perception gains some support.

I think that in the end, when I do bail on work, I just need to be the best husband anyone could hope for so she clearly sees the benefit.

lizzie

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2015, 11:25:33 AM »
She also thinks I'm lucky to have the career I have (full prof) and that I should be taking advantage of it to do something meaningful, and that I'll still be unhappy if I quit and don't have satisfying work (I disagree and think living well, having time to volunteer in the community, etc. would be most satisfying).

Would it help to point out that by quitting a job that you don't need and are burnt out on, you are creating opportunities for younger people to move up the career ladder? That is a meaningful thing. It's something I've thought about in my own career and I am hoping that, when the time comes, it will help me to leave my job without suffering too much from "one more year" syndrome.

MrsK

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2015, 11:33:08 AM »
My DH is retiring in 18 months as we are already technically FI.  We disagree on "stache" size however--I want a bit more so I am going to keep working for 5 more years and retire about 3 years after he does.

It took us about 6 months of discussions for me to "get onboard" with his retirement date.  It is not about money.  He has done his fair share and more.  But I was concerned about how me working and him not working would impact our relationship.  Some of my concerns may seem silly to others, but I couldn't just dismiss them.  If I could offer what your wife might be struggling with:

What will he do all day while I am working?  Will I resent his free time? 
Will we still go to bed at the same time and talk like we do now or will he be up all night and sleep in?  Will I feel left out?
Will I still respect him--I respect him now a great deal and some of this may be wrapped up in his prestigious position--will he still be as sexy to me without the job? (I know this makes me seem shallow, but I am just being honest!)
If he gets wrapped up in a new hobby, how will this work?  He may spend more time running and working on cars and I find this a bit boring (meaning he actually is more boring to me when he does these things too much--he tends to get obsessed)
I work at home and I really like having the house to myself during the day--will he now always be hanging around?
Will he be frustrated with me if he wants to go camping and I can't go?

These are just some of the things that we have talked about and it really helped for me to be allowed to be honest about my concerns.  I think it will be a transition that will have some bumps and difficulties, but I feel much better about it now.

Also, my DH is now not looking at his retirement as this perfect thing he has been dreaming about for so long--he sees that like all of real life, there will be challenges. 

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2015, 12:32:19 PM »
My DH is retiring in 18 months as we are already technically FI.  We disagree on "stache" size however--I want a bit more so I am going to keep working for 5 more years and retire about 3 years after he does.

It took us about 6 months of discussions for me to "get onboard" with his retirement date.  It is not about money.  He has done his fair share and more.  But I was concerned about how me working and him not working would impact our relationship.  Some of my concerns may seem silly to others, but I couldn't just dismiss them.  If I could offer what your wife might be struggling with:

What will he do all day while I am working?  Will I resent his free time? 
Will we still go to bed at the same time and talk like we do now or will he be up all night and sleep in?  Will I feel left out?
Will I still respect him--I respect him now a great deal and some of this may be wrapped up in his prestigious position--will he still be as sexy to me without the job? (I know this makes me seem shallow, but I am just being honest!)
If he gets wrapped up in a new hobby, how will this work?  He may spend more time running and working on cars and I find this a bit boring (meaning he actually is more boring to me when he does these things too much--he tends to get obsessed)
I work at home and I really like having the house to myself during the day--will he now always be hanging around?
Will he be frustrated with me if he wants to go camping and I can't go?

These are just some of the things that we have talked about and it really helped for me to be allowed to be honest about my concerns.  I think it will be a transition that will have some bumps and difficulties, but I feel much better about it now.

Also, my DH is now not looking at his retirement as this perfect thing he has been dreaming about for so long--he sees that like all of real life, there will be challenges.

^ This, and many of the other thoughtful responses make me think I've found one of the best forums online.

Nice work people, and thanks!

More specifically on this post, I imagine that she is dealing with many similar questions and misgivings, and it is very helpful getting a better understanding of what that might look like and step out of my own interpretation of the situation. I also am trying not to harbor any illusions about it being eternal bliss - just life w/o this current source of stress.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 12:41:46 PM by spokey doke »

yandz

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2015, 01:01:44 PM »
I have had similar conversations with my spouse as Mrs. K (our spouses sound similar) as he will likely retire earlier than I will. That last question is a particular fear of mine and it is because we are so close - that I will be less available to him than he wishes and he will resent me for it. An additional worry I have: that if he does get bored/become unhappy, the solution will be "demanding" of me - wanting me to take more time off, why don't I want to do such and such (and the answer will be I am worn out from work).

In your conversations with your wife, I would also consider talking about what the plan is if you should find yourself bored/unhappy/unsatisfied so she knows it won't come back to bite her :)  Obviously speaking from my own fears, but hope it helps...
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 03:35:07 PM by yandz »

gluskap

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2015, 02:13:08 PM »
This is something that I worry about too when it comes time for me to FIRE as I think my husband wants to work longer than I do so I'm interested to see how this goes for you.  I agree with all the PP about just having an honest conversation with your spouse about her fears and hopefully you guys can work through it.  Who knows, maybe once she sees how much fun you're having it will make her want to retire too.  That's kind of what I am hoping will happen.

lifejoy

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2015, 03:33:39 PM »
My dad retired two years before my mom.

He spends each day hobby farming, gardening, house repairing/renovating. He takes a nap most days, and makes my mom dinner most days. He gets up early, has breakfast with my mom, and if he needs the car for the day he will drive her to work. Otherwise he usually just bikes places. My dad is the ultimate mustachian and he's never heard of MMM! :)

My mom is working longer because a) she worked part time for many years and feels she should bring in more money to make it more "fair". b) She doesn't have as many hobbies/interests/friends as my dad does, so I think retirement will be more of a shock to her system.

Honestly? At this point, I think you should read "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie. I'm reading it right now and picking up some really great tips for winning people over. Some quick tips:

- Start by stating known facts, lay out the things you can both agree on: i.e. "You love your job, and I'm straining under the pressure of mine." - "If I had more time, I could make more meals and do more housework, making us both happier." etc.

- Get her on a train of saying yes, and then end with the big question: i.e. "You love me, right?"  - "You feel happier when I'm happier, right?" "Do you think we have enough money right now?" etc. and then "Do you think it might be a good idea for me to retire?"

The book is full of good methods. Check it out maybe.

OR - could you quit academia, and as a safety net tell her you'll work as a bartender/dog-walker/newspaper boy if you're in need of some work? Are there any jobs that you see as desirable? Something to keep your schedule regular and your wife appeased?

Good luck! Remind yourself that you're lucky to have this problem instead of "omg retirement is not an option for the next 50 years!!!!"

DoubleDown

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2015, 09:39:47 AM »
If it helps, my situation is remarkably similar to yours and was discussed at length in this thread:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/progress-and-%27lessons-learned%27-on-pending-fire/msg113361/#msg113361

The "tl;dr" result: I retired at 47 from a lucrative career despite my wife's misgivings. I concluded there was nothing I could do to completely allay her fears, and that I wasn't going to work another 5-10 (unnecessary) years attempting to do so.

retired?

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2015, 08:45:59 PM »
If it helps, my situation is remarkably similar to yours and was discussed at length in this thread:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/progress-and-%27lessons-learned%27-on-pending-fire/msg113361/#msg113361

The "tl;dr" result: I retired at 47 from a lucrative career despite my wife's misgivings. I concluded there was nothing I could do to completely allay her fears, and that I wasn't going to work another 5-10 (unnecessary) years attempting to do so.

On DoubleDown's thread (very interesting btw), there were a few comments regarding resentment from the spouse.....in particular that it might be reasonable. 

I don't think, as in DD's case, that the RE spouse will always be able to get the other to 'see the light'.  I love my wife, but my view is "do I sacrifice my happiness so that you can a) not be worried about the neighbor's opinions or b) live more extravagantly than necessary?"

The one wanting to RE, but who doesn't simply to appease the spouse, will start to resent the spouse. 

Even if a spouse has become used to the other's level of income, rather than complaining about the loss of it, he/she should be glad it was there long enough to save a substantial amount.

My view is 'you want more, then earn more'.  Neither spouse should have to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of the other's when it is truly unnecessary.

Noodle

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2015, 07:26:57 AM »
My takeaway from reading a number of threads like this is that the spouse who presents FIRE as a numbers problem frequently is surprised to realize that for the other spouse, the barrier to agreement is emotional and has nothing to do with mathematical logic. It seems like the only successful solution is to take the emotional issues as seriously as the financial ones and just keep communicating, with or without professional help, until they're either resolved or the couple comes to a place where they move forward anyway (ie, one spouse just goes ahead and retires, hoping that time will change the other person's perspective). It's hard, because emotional pain is a real thing, but it has its own logic and the person experiencing it may or may not be able to express it accurately.

And given the state of academic hiring and the irreversibility of the decision, if I were the wife here, I would need to see a lot of groundwork (hearing about this long enough to be sure it was a real thing, not just a temporary emotional state; a general plan for what you plan to do with this free time and how it will contribute to family life; possibly a back-up plan if you get surprised financially...) If in my past, either my husband or someone else important to me had reneged on a major deal or promise, I would probably need even more patience and support. In general, I think you will probably get faster consensus if you can make the conversation about the "we" of the family rather than the "me" of "I hate my job."

Maybe you could ask what would make her more comfortable with you leaving academia. Perhaps working a year at a non-academic job before you FIRE would do it...to have something other than academia on your resume, since an employer later would be more interested in a candidate who had already proved he could work outside academia over one who just thought he could, even if there is then a work gap.

spokey doke

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2015, 07:49:04 AM »
A nice job of articulating, and reinforcing, the basic insight implicit in MrsK's post above (thanks).  Mars/Venus.

I do have a plan for working another job over the summer which would also lay the groundwork for possible income (and my happiness) post FIRE.  But even that is a significant leap and has numerous complications.  I'm working on it.

wtjbatman

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2015, 10:08:09 AM »
I work at home and I really like having the house to myself during the day--will he now always be hanging around?

The nerve of your husband, possibly being at home more often. Hopefully he will understand the house is your domain, and he needs to make himself scarce during the day.

Zamboni

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Re: Getting spouse on board
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2015, 09:12:03 PM »
Are you tenured?  If so, then I'm going to vote for this:

Quote
I guess I'd push your current job to the limit of flexibility prior to quitting.

Knowing a lot about academia but nearly nothing about your specific position, it seems like you might be suffering a bit from relative deprivation.  Bc hanging out with my non-academic friends always makes me realize how awesome I really have it, even though I get frustrated and burnt out sometimes on a day to day basis within the confines of the ivory basement.

Also, try yes yes no yes at work.  Yes, that sounds like an interesting committee/extra class/program that you need a letter of rec for and YES, I am honored that you thought of me for this opportunity.  But, alas, no, I can't help you with it due to my already full schedule.  But yes, please consider me again if it comes up again in the distant future.  Good luck!