Author Topic: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision  (Read 10300 times)

Melisande

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Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« on: April 25, 2016, 07:38:54 PM »
As you can see, this is a long post, but there is a TL;DNR at the end.

My husband and I have a strong marriage and see eye-to-eye about most things. But, if there is one area that has caused friction in the past, it is finances. No surprise there, I guess, since it's a problem for a lot of people. We got married before I realized that my husband was a spender and I was a saver. But, in truth, had I realized it, I still would have married him, since we are so compatible in most other ways.

When I say my husband is a spender, I should clarify by saying that he has what most everyone would call a "normal, healthy" relationship to money, whereas I am more naturally (unnaturally?) mustachian. (I grew up in a ridiculously frugal household and actually enjoy making a budget and accumulating wealth *almost* as an end in itself). When I say a "normal" relationship to money, I mean he is smart enough to refuse all debt except low-interest mortgage debt and to max out his retirement contribution and both of our Roth IRAs. We are both in our 50s and we have a total net worth of about 1.6M with about $90K in cash (checking and savings). So, it's not as if he is Mr. Irresponsible. Hardly!

However, once the necessary is taken care of, his philosophy is: "Money is for spending!!" We live in a modest home, drive used cars, and don't spend that much on consumer goods. I also rarely shop for new clothes, never buy make up or jewelry, hate the thought of remodeling or redecorating, etc. But, we do take many vacations, so many that, frankly, I lose count. I do know that we took vacationed abroad four times last year. We always stay in 3, 4 or 5 star hotels and have on occasion hired very expensive private guides. He also absolutely HATES making a budget for anything or even thinking about saving extra. I handle all the finances from the monthly bill paying to bigger things such as retirement planning, refinancing the mortgage, buying more cost effective insurance, finding the best deals on big ticket items, making vacation reservations that are not ridiculously expensive and yet meet the criteria for sufficient luxury, etc.

It would have been fine with me not to travel nearly as much as we do, but since he was making by far most of the money (and since I have stopped working) all of it, I really don't have much reason to complain. Yes, I like to travel, but 1 well-planned vacation a year is sufficient.

My husband is planning on retiring in about 7 years, or so. He is in the fortunate position of being able to work as long as he wants to. (in his position, he cannot be forced to retire.) So, as long as his health holds, he could work even longer than this. But, what is that you say?!? This forum is all about financial independence and early retirement?!? Why would he want to work longer?

There is the rub. My husband is finding himself at a turning point. Although he cannot be fired, he can find himself in a position where he makes considerably less money than he does now (from 25% to 40% less, which is a lot). He is up for renewal for the much more lucrative position he has been in for a while. They will probably renew him (for another 5 years or so), but they are asking him to do more work, to step up his game. And he's not totally sure he wants to up his game at this point. In a word, part of him (not all of him, but part) is already thinking about scaling down towards retirement. I told him that I would support whatever he decided to do, but if he decided to accept the lower payed position, we'd have to seriously scale back our lifestyle. And I have some doubts as to how well that would work out for him. What he would ideally like, but is smart enough not to ask, is for me to find some kind of employment (in a past life I was a really pretty good computer programmer, so something like web site design), then use that to continue financing the lavish travel agenda.

In a word, I'm not on board with this. I will certainly miss all the travel, but I'm much rather have my freedom. For me, the ultimate luxury is not exotic travel, but being able to get enough sleep every night. That and not giving a damn about what most people think of me.

While I was concocting this post, I have heard that my husband has indeed decided to step up to the plate and take on this new responsibility, so my question is now somewhat hypothetical, but not totally since he still might not be renewed. Anyway, if you were me, how would you go about getting your husband/wife on board with a more mustachian lifestyle and not being guilty into going back to work to support non-essential expenses.

TL;DNR --  My responsible, but still spendthrift husband is thinking about taking a much lower paying (and lower stress) position. Instead of scaling back our lifestyle, he is hinting around about me going back to work to finance "our" lifestyle (which is basically his lifestyle). If you were me, how would you preserve your sanity and make more of a mustachian out of him?

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2016, 09:05:59 PM »
Flat out tell him you do not want to return to work, and then tell him your fears. Ask him to help you come up with a solution that you can both live with. It will help if you're willing to compromise, but if you're not, state that plainly. Just realize that it puts him at a disadvantage.

If you end up at loggerheads despite compromise, then immediately seek an dispassionate arbitrator, probably in the form of counseling. They can help tremendously when dealing with highly charged, or long simmering, emotions. People seem to wait until their marriage is really on the rocks before seeking help, but in my view earlier is way better.

mozar

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2016, 09:21:43 PM »
I can't really see him wanting to change his lifestyle if he's already in his 50's. Maybe do a case study. I wonder how much you spend? If he had a job making 50k and you decided to start withdrawing 40k a year, would 90k a year not be enough money for what he likes to spend? If you do spend more than 90k a year, I would very much like to see that case study, because its hard for me to imagine how you both spend that much money.

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2016, 10:21:50 PM »
Flat out tell him you do not want to return to work, and then tell him your fears. Ask him to help you come up with a solution that you can both live with. It will help if you're willing to compromise, but if you're not, state that plainly. Just realize that it puts him at a disadvantage.

If you end up at loggerheads despite compromise, then immediately seek an dispassionate arbitrator, probably in the form of counseling. They can help tremendously when dealing with highly charged, or long simmering, emotions. People seem to wait until their marriage is really on the rocks before seeking help, but in my view earlier is way better.

Thanks. I've already told him that. However, he tends to be really passive aggressive. So I fear that he will keep saying: "No, don't go back to work," but then somehow spending so much that I chicken out and just do it to feel secure. Not only that but he will not rest until I say that I wanted to do it and it wasn't his idea, it was mine!

And I made the big mistake tonight of having the following exchange:

Me: "Hon, I think you tend to be somewhat ... er ... passive aggressive." Then I continued by stating that I feared the above scenario. So, I said, if you just want me to go back to work, say so. (I was thinking that at least this way, I would be sacrificing for him instead of it being a case where I felt more or less forced into it through circumstance then had to deal with his suggesting that my working was somehow a gift to me from him.) Husband: "OK, I want you to go back to work." Me: So, you really mean that? Or were you just saying that because I told you to. Husband: "No! I was just saying that because you told me to!" So, whatever.

So, now I have to backtrack on that. But he also hates being the bad guy, so he will never actually come out and say it and I will be (probably) able to get him to see the light.

Also, for the record, I did have a job paying $45K when I quit about 6 years ago. I quit for quite a few reasons (one of them being my health), but another of them was my husband's disrespect for the money I earned. He would repeatedly say: "I'm so happy! It's just like I won the lottery!" The first time he said this I didn't know what he was talking about. Then he explained that lottery winners didn't get a lump sum, they would get something like 45-50K a year (really, I don't know anything about lottery payouts), so my earning that much was the equivalent of his winning the lottery. Unfortunately, not only did he say this, but he also acted like this. As soon as I started making the astronomical figure cited above, all of a sudden, he started wanting all kinds of extravagant things: $5,000 for cosmetic orthodontic treatment; getting our pool heated; buying expensive camera equipment; continuously asking about getting a new, semi-luxury car which we didn't need. (I nixed this one again and again and again and again and again and again until he finally gave up). What did I buy? Work clothing and eating out a little bit more than we do now.

I did set up the max retirement contribution for myself (which he got really angry at, then denied ever being angry about it).

When I started working at the 45K/year job, I asked up front about having separate bank accounts because I worried about just this kind of thing. We discussed it and he agreed to do it. Then when we were at the bank and the bank employee asked us about separate or joint accounts, he immediately jumped in almost before she was finished talking and said: "Joint, definitely!" Then, being a wimp and not wanting to pick a fight, I just caved.

About the counseling: We had a real problem (not $$-related) about 5 years ago. I suggested we get counseling. He refused, but said that he 100% supported my getting counseling for myself. So, I just went on my own and did what I could to solve the problem on my end. He is someone who will never go to counseling, or read any advice or self-help or anything because "it is not scientific," and he is a scientist (of a sort).

I'm sure it will all work out. I think I'm a pretty good communicator, have pretty good boundaries and am pragmatic. However, I'm just working through being really pissed off right now (and hoping he doesn't read this). Basically, he is a really nice guy, a non-crazy guy, an intelligent guy, a funny guy, but still, you know, something of a leach. There I said it! Today, when we were discussing his increasing disinclination to do what needs to be done, he came out with it: "I'm lazy! That's just the way I am, I guess!" But then, also "maybe I should work on growing up and being better."

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2016, 10:39:44 PM »
I can't really see him wanting to change his lifestyle if he's already in his 50's. Maybe do a case study. I wonder how much you spend? If he had a job making 50k and you decided to start withdrawing 40k a year, would 90k a year not be enough money for what he likes to spend? If you do spend more than 90k a year, I would very much like to see that case study, because its hard for me to imagine how you both spend that much money.

He currently makes $210,000/year. We do not live in a high COL area. We do not have children. We do not have any debt besides the mortgage. Our mortgage, insurance and property taxes together come to a little more than $1,900/month. If he took the pay cut, his salary would be somewhere between $120,000 and $155,000/year. One of the things that is frustrating me is that he cannot tell me what his salary would be in this case. All I know is somewhere between these two figures. He apparently just doesn't know what it would be under scenario B and is not sure how to find out.

But I think we could easily live on either figure, if he were willing to make some lifestyle changes.

I feel really horrible and guilty writing all of this. I feel like I am the leach since I am not currently working. But another reason I stopped working is because I was accumulating health issues at a rapid clip: -- a chronic pain condition, digestive problems and an autoimmune disease put the cherry on the disease cake. I mentioned this to him evening and he said: "A lot of people work with pain and disability."  Thanks sweetie!

[ETA: Sorry, I also want to say that I have always watched my weight, eaten well, kept in shape, not smoked, etc. Some people assume that if someone has chronic health problems, they somehow brought it upon themselves by letting themselves go. But enough defensiveness for one evening.]
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 10:45:48 PM by Melisande »

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2016, 12:24:17 AM »
Sure, many people work through pain and disability, but usually from economic necessity or maybe a real love for their work. Why would he want you to put you through that if it's not needed and could make your health worse? You're not a leach - there are more ways to contribute than income and your frugality and money management is a major contribution to your security, even if he doesn't recognise that.

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2016, 01:20:47 AM »
Is there a basic boundary that the stash is untouchable?  Are you at least bare-bones FI (food, shelter, transportation, medical, inexpensive entertainment) on that $1.6MM pile of assets?

If basically FI I think it's fair that each of you gets to choose if you, individually, will or won't work longer in order to consume more.  As long as bills, retirement savings, maintenance of home and vehicles get covered, don't get too worked up over some of the conspicuous consumption, as long as it's being cash-flowed by the consumer trading time for the money being spent.  If you can agree that the spendy lifestyle stops when the flow of disposable income does, at least you're containing the financial bleeding.  (Working more to spend lavishly isn't a choice most on here would make, but your husband is an adult who gets to choose for himself, and as a married couple you both get input into the decisions made in your family.)  You can afford the option of being a bit lax with the extravagant spending if your basics are well-covered (and there's a limited argument to be made that you should enjoy some travel now, before illness, age, or death takes that opportunity from you.)

As the spouse that scours for deals, don't discount the value of the money saved by your efforts.  Income is more visible than expenditures, but both matter.

And as for feeling like a leech (who does all the financial planning and lowest-cost procurement for the family - because that's totally skill-and-effort free), if your husband got sick and couldn't work, would you throw him out or marginalize his place in your family?  Would you pressure him to work for more luxuries, anyway, because his value is based on how much cash you can squeeze out of him?  If you would treat him as a loved family member and not just another cog in a corporate machine, why feel that you deserve less?  You should both care about the other's health, happiness, and wishes.

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2016, 01:36:35 AM »
One of the tricky things to unpack--but potentially helpful--is how much does he spend as a reward/relief from work?  I found when I switched from a high paying/high stress job to a much lower paying job with much better work/life balance that I started to spend a lot less.  At first, I thought it was out of necessity, but then I realized that before I bought a lot of things at the end of a crappy work day sort of to make up for how bad a day I had, or an expensive vacation to feel like I had an amazing break from my otherwise work-centric life.  When I switched to the new job and got settled, I was happier overall and felt less need to buy stuff to "make up for work."

It's tough because it's hard to analyze when you're in the situation.  But maybe find ways to ask about why he buys some of the things he does, and see how many fit into the category of "I deserve it because I work hard, I need to enjoy it to get through the day, etc."  To me, those are the ones that might not seem so essential to him once the pressure of the high-paying, high-demand job are removed, and might allow for lower expenses than he's currently thinking.

Good luck!

P.S.  I'm way happier and have way more money 8 years after taking a 2/3 pay cut when I switched jobs.  It's amazing what a general baseline happiness does for reducing your spending!

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2016, 08:14:55 AM »
Just want to say that despite being on these boards I agree that, once well-positioned, money *is* for spending. That said, travel doesn't have to be so costly. You shouldn't have to go back to work, but maybe you could take over travel hacking and do the trip planning so it's not so expensive?

Ccube19

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2016, 08:49:02 AM »
Seem like if you can make a go of it on around 100k you should be good. That wouldn't be much savings at the reduced pay but the stash should still grow and maybe social security kick in at some point such that it will continue to produce 100k at 4% when you he retires completely.

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2016, 09:00:46 AM »
One of the tricky things to unpack--but potentially helpful--is how much does he spend as a reward/relief from work?  I found when I switched from a high paying/high stress job to a much lower paying job with much better work/life balance that I started to spend a lot less.  At first, I thought it was out of necessity, but then I realized that before I bought a lot of things at the end of a crappy work day sort of to make up for how bad a day I had, or an expensive vacation to feel like I had an amazing break from my otherwise work-centric life.  When I switched to the new job and got settled, I was happier overall and felt less need to buy stuff to "make up for work."

This is interesting. I think some of the spending really might be related to de-stressing from overwork or taking what he feels like he has earned (and has earned!) But I have also noticed that some of the vacation spending is conspicuous consumption -- not just destressing but also accumulating experiences that can then be used to wow others. (Hey, you want to see our photos from our trip to the Amazon?)

We've been married almost 30 years now and I still do not completely understand him. We are so different in so many ways and yet it is these differences that make us compatible. I am much more extroverted than he is, a much better conversationalist both with friends and with strangers. Most of our friends are my friends. He is much more quiet, but at some fundamental level he is more social and less individualist than I am. It took me a long time to realize that he actually enjoyed doing what others do merely because they were doing it or doing what others like so he can get their approval. He feels really good going along with the crowd (although paradoxically he hates *actual* crowds).

One example of many: One day he noticed that a lot of people in our neighborhood had an American flag flying from their house. He suggested that we go buy and American flag and fly one too. Really? Why on earth would I want to go out and buy a flag, just because 10 other people in our neighborhood did it? There is no other reason except that it makes him feel warm and fuzzy on the inside in  a way that I fundamentally cannot understand. So I think some of the spending is not necessarily keeping up with the Jones' per se, but definitely socially motivated.

For a long time, I used to really dislike this side of him, until I realized it was precisely what made him successful in the world of corporate academia. And it was precisely my not caring what people thought -- what was the new hot topic; what my dean would think; what the students would write on my evaluations that made me somewhat of a failure in the same work context.

The problem now is that it is those same traits that are starting to work against him in a way that I think he does not fully understand. He has been a great administrator precisely because he cares not just about "how things are done here" (i.e. maintaining and improving the work place culture), but also making sure that all the professors under him are happy in their position. He wants to like others and be liked back. A fundamentally social animal, as I said. But our university is becoming ever more corporate. Now the problem the higher-ups have with him is that he is not enough of a slave-driver. I'm not sure they've instituted the evil "stacked ranking" system that IBM and other corporate work places used to have (or still do?), but he said he was "berated" yesterday because 1/2 of his professors were below average for his college in terms of productivity. He pointed out how ridiculous that was -- of course, 50% are going to be below average, but apparently they just talked right over him. He also told me that he has no idea how to make them more productive (and most of them have tenure, so it's not like he can fire them or anything. I suppose he could withhold raises, but some profs just don't care that much).

Of course, he could see the light, realize how absolutely ridiculous and soul-sucking corporate culture is and decide that down-sizing our lives is the right decision, but, again, like I said, he is a social animal and somehow believes this is just the way things are or the way things must be for him if he is to feel good about himself. Last night he said: "I've thought about the matter and I've decided to do the right thing! I will find a way of working harder and getting everyone to be more productive." And I honestly think he would feel depressed and quite a bit like a "loser" if he didn't keep on going. On the plus side, though, he is someone who is fundamentally happy, relaxed, nice and decent 99% of the time no matter what the situation. So, I think he will be happy AND I do think that it will be best for the department/college. The only other person they could conceivably get to fill his shoes is extremely productive, but a total a$$hole and slave-driver whom most of the profs intensely dislike.

Quote
P.S.  I'm way happier and have way more money 8 years after taking a 2/3 pay cut when I switched jobs.  It's amazing what a general baseline happiness does for reducing your spending!

I bet! And I'm sure that if I were in your shoes, I'd feel exactly the same way. But then again, I bet you aren't someone who has their identity wrapped up in their consumption or their job position.

AZDude

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2016, 09:17:53 AM »
Quote
When I say a "normal" relationship to money, I mean he is smart enough to refuse all debt except low-interest mortgage debt and to max out his retirement contribution and both of our Roth IRAs. We are both in our 50s and we have a total net worth of about 1.6M with about $90K in cash (checking and savings). So, it's not as if he is Mr. Irresponsible. Hardly!

FFS... let the man take a less demanding position and live a little. Seriously... you have more than enough to retire on right now. $1.6M * .04 = $64,000 per year. I'm sure some of that is home equity, but seriously...

What is your budget like? That has to be quite a bit of exotic travel to make so your husband couldn't take a 40% paycut. My first thought is you are being unreasonable, but obviously we would need more details.

mm1970

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2016, 09:39:31 AM »
Quote
I feel really horrible and guilty writing all of this. I feel like I am the leach since I am not currently working. But another reason I stopped working is because I was accumulating health issues at a rapid clip: -- a chronic pain condition, digestive problems and an autoimmune disease put the cherry on the disease cake. I mentioned this to him evening and he said: "A lot of people work with pain and disability."  Thanks sweetie!

Huh, I don't have anything helpful to say, except - this is a tough one.

So, he has a preferred lifestyle (spending on travel and conspicuous travel).  But his income allows for this.
You don't have an income.  But then, your preferred lifestyle doesn't really require his income.

The whole interaction about your $45k job when he said that he felt like he won the lottery was ... weird.  It's almost as if he resents you for not working, and figures since you "benefit" from his job, he should "benefit" from your job.  Which, I kind of see.

The thing that's missing is the whole health aspect.  Plenty of people work disabled, but it's a miserable life for sure.

Good luck I guess! I've got nothing else.  It sounds like he doesn't really have your best interests in mind, just his own.

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2016, 10:01:12 AM »
Basically, he is a really nice guy, a non-crazy guy, an intelligent guy, a funny guy, but still, you know, something of a leach. There I said it!

- Forgive me, but it's not clear to me from your posts how someone who's been supporting you financially for years can be described as a leech. Can you expound?

Your husband should be able to scale back on his stressful work situation if he needs to. You'll need to address his extraneous spending firmly. It sounds like you've been doing that in the past, consistently resisting his impulse buys. That must be tiring, so maybe sitting him down with a good spreadsheet to illustrate the effects of his over-spending on a budget might help. Numbers are fairly "scientific".

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2016, 10:10:30 AM »
Quote
When I say a "normal" relationship to money, I mean he is smart enough to refuse all debt except low-interest mortgage debt and to max out his retirement contribution and both of our Roth IRAs. We are both in our 50s and we have a total net worth of about 1.6M with about $90K in cash (checking and savings). So, it's not as if he is Mr. Irresponsible. Hardly!

FFS... let the man take a less demanding position and live a little. Seriously... you have more than enough to retire on right now. $1.6M * .04 = $64,000 per year. I'm sure some of that is home equity, but seriously...

What is your budget like? That has to be quite a bit of exotic travel to make so your husband couldn't take a 40% paycut. My first thought is you are being unreasonable, but obviously we would need more details.

Sure. We could take the cut, but he doesn't (appear) to want to give up the exotic travel. And, yes, we do a lot of it and it costs a lot of $$. I'm 100% fine with the cut ... if we scale back the travel. If I wanted to travel that much myself, I'd get a job and finance it.

All in all, there is a strange financial dynamic in our marriage. Back when I was working, he actually got angry with me for not spending more of my money. We were in a store somewhere once and he went into this whole: "Just buy something!" routine. "Why don't you just buy something for yourself! What do you want? There must be something here ...." Or he'd ask me if I wanted some very expensive item for my birthday and I'd tell him: "No. Please don't get that for me. I don't want it. Why don't you get me X,Y or Z instead? And guess what? I'd wind up with the $2,500 present I didn't want.

I don't think he resented me for working or not working, it's just that when I worked, he absolutely could not get on board with my wanting to be a very conservative saver. For him, there was something fundamentally wrong with that mentally. And I couldn't get on board with what I thought was senseless consumer spending. So, now that we have the nest egg (a chunk of which is in my name), I'm fine with my not working and his spending on exotic travel.
I'm also fine with working again, if it comes to that. But in that case, we will have to really communicate about financial philosophy and work out some kind of compromise.

crispy

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2016, 10:30:52 AM »
I will be honest and say I kind of cringed when I read that you want him to step up to the plate and take a job he doesn't really want.  I know you have some health issues, but he is telling you that he needs some relief and you are telling him he needs to man up.  I don't think that is fair. You both seem to be talking at each other, but you aren't listening to what each other is saying.  He is telling you he is tired and stressed, and you are telling him that you are fearful for the future.  I do think that actually communicating would go a long way in this situation.

Also, I think his attitude towards money is probably a little more balanced than yours.  Money is for saving, but it is also for spending and making life enjoyable.  Things get out of whack when you go to the extreme either way. Maybe compromise and setup a travel account and just don't spend more than the allotted amount.  Maybe that would ease things for both of you.

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2016, 10:43:01 AM »
This probably isn't the place to complain about this, but it is depressing to me (the wife of a university lecturer, not tenure track and never will be) that a university administrator gets paid so much money, when my husband gets paid diddley squat to do the real work of the university (you know, teaching the students). Sorry I didn't address your concerns. I do feel for you. It sounds like a sad situation.

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2016, 10:50:43 AM »

We've been married almost 30 years now and I still do not completely understand him. We are so different in so many ways and yet it is these differences that make us compatible. I am much more extroverted than he is, a much better conversationalist both with friends and with strangers. Most of our friends are my friends. He is much more quiet, but at some fundamental level he is more social and less individualist than I am. It took me a long time to realize that he actually enjoyed doing what others do merely because they were doing it or doing what others like so he can get their approval. He feels really good going along with the crowd (although paradoxically he hates *actual* crowds).

One example of many: One day he noticed that a lot of people in our neighborhood had an American flag flying from their house. He suggested that we go buy and American flag and fly one too. Really? Why on earth would I want to go out and buy a flag, just because 10 other people in our neighborhood did it? There is no other reason except that it makes him feel warm and fuzzy on the inside in  a way that I fundamentally cannot understand. So I think some of the spending is not necessarily keeping up with the Jones' per se, but definitely socially motivated.

For a long time, I used to really dislike this side of him, until I realized it was precisely what made him successful in the world of corporate academia. And it was precisely my not caring what people thought -- what was the new hot topic; what my dean would think; what the students would write on my evaluations that made me somewhat of a failure in the same work context.

The problem now is that it is those same traits that are starting to work against him in a way that I think he does not fully understand. He has been a great administrator precisely because he cares not just about "how things are done here" (i.e. maintaining and improving the work place culture), but also making sure that all the professors under him are happy in their position. He wants to like others and be liked back. A fundamentally social animal, as I said. But our university is becoming ever more corporate. Now the problem the higher-ups have with him is that he is not enough of a slave-driver. I'm not sure they've instituted the evil "stacked ranking" system that IBM and other corporate work places used to have (or still do?), but he said he was "berated" yesterday because 1/2 of his professors were below average for his college in terms of productivity. He pointed out how ridiculous that was -- of course, 50% are going to be below average, but apparently they just talked right over him. He also told me that he has no idea how to make them more productive (and most of them have tenure, so it's not like he can fire them or anything. I suppose he could withhold raises, but some profs just don't care that much).

Of course, he could see the light, realize how absolutely ridiculous and soul-sucking corporate culture is and decide that down-sizing our lives is the right decision, but, again, like I said, he is a social animal and somehow believes this is just the way things are or the way things must be for him if he is to feel good about himself. Last night he said: "I've thought about the matter and I've decided to do the right thing! I will find a way of working harder and getting everyone to be more productive." And I honestly think he would feel depressed and quite a bit like a "loser" if he didn't keep on going. On the plus side, though, he is someone who is fundamentally happy, relaxed, nice and decent 99% of the time no matter what the situation. So, I think he will be happy AND I do think that it will be best for the department/college. The only other person they could conceivably get to fill his shoes is extremely productive, but a total a$$hole and slave-driver whom most of the profs intensely dislike.

Just wanted to hop in here and say that it sounds like you are describing my DH.  Your description in many ways helped me see that he is not the only one.   Tt one point there were many people on this board talking about personality types, and I believe these individuals would be described as "Guardians" but am not sure.  I am somewhat similar to yourself--i just don't care what other people think!  I do find it very hard to negotiate the mustachian concepts with him.  My DH is not so spendy, but he does feel the need to appear to be like everyone else.  So difficult to communicate with!

Edited to fix the quote
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 02:50:02 PM by Lucky Girl »

SKL-HOU

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2016, 10:58:33 AM »
What if he took the less demanding less paying job and you supplemented his already high income (120-150k) with maybe 1-2% from your stash, if needed?

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2016, 11:04:02 AM »
Basically, he is a really nice guy, a non-crazy guy, an intelligent guy, a funny guy, but still, you know, something of a leach. There I said it!

- Forgive me, but it's not clear to me from your posts how someone who's been supporting you financially for years can be described as a leech. Can you expound?


I'm sorry I wrote that. It is an ugly word. I guess I was in a pretty bad mood last night.

Long story short, it's not just about who is supporting whom financially, it is about personality -- although when we first got together I did support him financially while he finished his doctorate.

Yesterday, he admitted that he was a fundamentally lazy person. I think this is the only the second time that I've ever heard him say that out loud, but I really know what he means. Given the choice, he would much, much rather just lay about and pay (or cajole) people to do things for him ... even think for him, than do that much work for himself. Again, I think this actually makes him a good manager -- he just loves to delegate.

As far as housework goes, I basically do everything which is totally normal and I accept 1000% since I am not working. However, he has taken some nominal tasks upon himself to be a modern male. So, supposedly he: 1) empties the dishwashers 2) does (some of the laundry). In reality, he does about 5% of the dishwasher unloading and about 20% of the laundry, which again is fine. However, what is not fine is to go and announce to friends and acquaintances that he does all the housework himself!

When I finished my degree, and wanted to get a job in academia, he absolutely insisted that I not do my own search, but we do a joint search (which is essentially culturally accepted nepotism in academia). I would have greatly preferred to go it on my own (particularly since I had a strong CV), but he did not want us to live apart and it is in fact very hard to find academic jobs together if you don't do a joint search. So we did the joint search. I got a position in a totally separate field that was actually funded by his department. Then, he proceeded to tell everyone from cab drivers, to checkout people, to people at the bank, to our friends and family, that he had gotten me a job. Um ... I did work my butt off for 7+ years; I did have my own studies fully funded by my grad department, I did win a prestigious scholarship (Fulbright) all on my own, I did get multiple publications on my own, etc. and yet suddenly this miracle of my having an academic job was all his doing and indeed he acted as if it was all his money too (hence, I won the lottery!)

Anyway, I am pissing myself off again. Better stand down.
 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 11:06:38 AM by Melisande »

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2016, 11:43:50 AM »
I will be honest and say I kind of cringed when I read that you want him to step up to the plate and take a job he doesn't really want. 

I'll have to go back and check the OP, but I'm fairly certain I said that *they* wanted him to step up to the plate and he is not sure that he wants to. Really, I am not part of that equation.


Quote
you are telling him he needs to man up.  I don't think that is fair.


I'm not telling him to man up. I'm saying stand down if you want, but then don't expect that we will be able to spend 6 months traveling in Australia the first year you retire.

I started asking him about retirement plans a couple of days ago and this is what he came up with. His line of reasoning is that Australia is a really, really large continent and that we won't be able to see it all if we don't spend at least 6 months. Also, that a certain famous birder just spent a year traveling the world for only $60,000. Of course, I had to point out that this person had a lot of perks and outside support (got lots and lots of favors from lots and lots of people) and that there is no way we could replicate that particularly since we (he) refuses any "substandard" accommodations. So, yeah, this guy did it in $60,000/year, but he wasn't exactly staying at the Hilton and hiring fancy private guides, etc. He also didn't have to worry about what to do with the house he left behind. Are we going to rent? Will our silly HOA be OK with that? How about homeowner's insurance? Most people don't realize this but most policies state (in the fine print), that if your house is vacant for more than 30 days, then your insurance will not pay out for any damages. Etc., I also told him about the law of diminishing returns. One month in a foreign country is great; two months nice; three months -- well, you start noticing that some things that were actually much better at home.

I did say that we could maybe do two 1 month well-planned trips/year in retirement and that I thought we could have a terrific time doing them, but to think we were going to be able to do a huge 6-month trip right away, much less year after year of our retirement was just not realistic and certainly not realistic if he is going to decide to make less.

But I have to say that the Australia trip is a whole heck of a lot better than his original retirement plan which involved space travel. He discussed this quite a bit early in our marriage and I always thought he was joking (he has a joking, joshing way about him) until one day it became clear to me that he was perfectly serious about it. In fact, he was clear that mere space travel wouldn't be enough, but it would have to involve actually landing on the moon. I eventually told him I'd be OK with it, if we could work it into our retirement budget. No, seriously. I did. LOL.



Quote
  He is telling you he is tired and stressed, and you are telling him that you are fearful for the future.  I do think that actually communicating would go a long way in this situation.

Yes. We are working on it. Although on more than one occasion, he has said precisely this and I quote: "Communication? That's your job!"

Quote
Also, I think his attitude towards money is probably a little more balanced than yours.  Money is for saving, but it is also for spending and making life enjoyable.  Things get out of whack when you go to the extreme either way. Maybe compromise and setup a travel account and just don't spend more than the allotted amount.  Maybe that would ease things for both of you.

I actually agree with this to some extent. That is why he has been good for me (or we have been good for each other). I grew up with parents who each grew up in real poverty and were terrified of ever being poor again. It did not give me the most balanced financial philosophy.

asiljoy

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2016, 11:59:33 AM »
I will be honest and say I kind of cringed when I read that you want him to step up to the plate and take a job he doesn't really want. 

I'll have to go back and check the OP, but I'm fairly certain I said that *they* wanted him to step up to the plate and he is not sure that he wants to. Really, I am not part of that equation.


Quote
you are telling him he needs to man up.  I don't think that is fair.


I'm not telling him to man up. I'm saying stand down if you want, but then don't expect that we will be able to spend 6 months traveling in Australia the first year you retire.

I started asking him about retirement plans a couple of days ago and this is what he came up with. His line of reasoning is that Australia is a really, really large continent and that we won't be able to see it all if we don't spend at least 6 months. Also, that a certain famous birder just spent a year traveling the world for only $60,000. Of course, I had to point out that this person had a lot of perks and outside support (got lots and lots of favors from lots and lots of people) and that there is no way we could replicate that particularly since we (he) refuses any "substandard" accommodations. So, yeah, this guy did it in $60,000/year, but he wasn't exactly staying at the Hilton and hiring fancy private guides, etc. He also didn't have to worry about what to do with the house he left behind. Are we going to rent? Will our silly HOA be OK with that? How about homeowner's insurance? Most people don't realize this but most policies state (in the fine print), that if your house is vacant for more than 30 days, then your insurance will not pay out for any damages. Etc., I also told him about the law of diminishing returns. One month in a foreign country is great; two months nice; three months -- well, you start noticing that some things that were actually much better at home.

I did say that we could maybe do two 1 month well-planned trips/year in retirement and that I thought we could have a terrific time doing them, but to think we were going to be able to do a huge 6-month trip right away, much less year after year of our retirement was just not realistic and certainly not realistic if he is going to decide to make less.

But I have to say that the Australia trip is a whole heck of a lot better than his original retirement plan which involved space travel.
He discussed this quite a bit early in our marriage and I always thought he was joking (he has a joking, joshing way about him) until one day it became clear to me that he was perfectly serious about it. In fact, he was clear that mere space travel wouldn't be enough, but it would have to involve actually landing on the moon. I eventually told him I'd be OK with it, if we could work it into our retirement budget. No, seriously. I did. LOL.



Quote
  He is telling you he is tired and stressed, and you are telling him that you are fearful for the future.  I do think that actually communicating would go a long way in this situation.

Yes. We are working on it. Although on more than one occasion, he has said precisely this and I quote: "Communication? That's your job!"

Quote
Also, I think his attitude towards money is probably a little more balanced than yours.  Money is for saving, but it is also for spending and making life enjoyable.  Things get out of whack when you go to the extreme either way. Maybe compromise and setup a travel account and just don't spend more than the allotted amount.  Maybe that would ease things for both of you.

I actually agree with this to some extent. That is why he has been good for me (or we have been good for each other). I grew up with parents who each grew up in real poverty and were terrified of ever being poor again. It did not give me the most balanced financial philosophy.
Nothing to add other than that might be the most epic mid-life crisis purchase I've ever heard of.

Sibley

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2016, 12:40:32 PM »
OP, the only comment I'll add is this. If you do go back to work, then you go to the bank ALONE to open an account. You do direct deposit into that account and ONLY that account. You do not put your husband's name on that account (ok, maybe as a beneficiary in the event of your death), you don't even tell him where it is. It's your money, and it doesn't factor into the household budget at all unless you specifically choose it.

Your husband's attitude was terrible in every respect.

SailorGirl

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2016, 12:53:01 PM »
  I quit for quite a few reasons (one of them being my health), but another of them was my husband's disrespect for the money I earned.

When I started working at the 45K/year job, I asked up front about having separate bank accounts because I worried about just this kind of thing. We discussed it and he agreed to do it. Then when we were at the bank and the bank employee asked us about separate or joint accounts, he immediately jumped in almost before she was finished talking and said: "Joint, definitely!" Then, being a wimp and not wanting to pick a fight, I just caved.


About the counseling: We had a real problem (not $$-related) about 5 years ago. I suggested we get counseling. He refused, but said that he 100% supported my getting counseling for myself.


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I mentioned this to him evening and he said: "A lot of people work with pain and disability." 

Quote
And guess what? I'd wind up with the $2,500 present I didn't want.

Quote
However, what is not fine is to go and announce to friends and acquaintances that he does all the housework himself!

Quote
Then, he proceeded to tell everyone from cab drivers, to checkout people, to people at the bank, to our friends and family, that he had gotten me a job

Quote
Yes. We are working on it. Although on more than one occasion, he has said precisely this and I quote: "Communication? That's your job!"

Maybe you're just getting tired of being treated with disrespect.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2016, 12:57:11 PM »
Honestly it sounds like the problem is that your husband is not that nice of a guy, and it's not really more complicated than that - he's not really a leech, just sort of an asshat. Only you can determine how you want to handle it.

okits

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2016, 02:27:26 PM »
  I quit for quite a few reasons (one of them being my health), but another of them was my husband's disrespect for the money I earned.

When I started working at the 45K/year job, I asked up front about having separate bank accounts because I worried about just this kind of thing. We discussed it and he agreed to do it. Then when we were at the bank and the bank employee asked us about separate or joint accounts, he immediately jumped in almost before she was finished talking and said: "Joint, definitely!" Then, being a wimp and not wanting to pick a fight, I just caved.


About the counseling: We had a real problem (not $$-related) about 5 years ago. I suggested we get counseling. He refused, but said that he 100% supported my getting counseling for myself.


Quote
I mentioned this to him evening and he said: "A lot of people work with pain and disability." 

Quote
And guess what? I'd wind up with the $2,500 present I didn't want.

Quote
However, what is not fine is to go and announce to friends and acquaintances that he does all the housework himself!

Quote
Then, he proceeded to tell everyone from cab drivers, to checkout people, to people at the bank, to our friends and family, that he had gotten me a job

Quote
Yes. We are working on it. Although on more than one occasion, he has said precisely this and I quote: "Communication? That's your job!"

Maybe you're just getting tired of being treated with disrespect.

Yeah...  The more you post, OP, the more this aspect sticks out.  Your family has so much wealth the finances seem secondary to this. 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2016, 02:38:00 PM »
Pay your shared bills [mortgage/power/insurance/food] out of your combined stache. Take out whatever else is feasible for that year - say 4% WR total.. Divide it into 2. Push it into two private accounts and let him do what he wants. Next year repeat.

If he wants more money to spend he can go back to work for it.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 02:39:41 PM by Retire-Canada »

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2016, 04:51:14 PM »
  I quit for quite a few reasons (one of them being my health), but another of them was my husband's disrespect for the money I earned.

When I started working at the 45K/year job, I asked up front about having separate bank accounts because I worried about just this kind of thing. We discussed it and he agreed to do it. Then when we were at the bank and the bank employee asked us about separate or joint accounts, he immediately jumped in almost before she was finished talking and said: "Joint, definitely!" Then, being a wimp and not wanting to pick a fight, I just caved.


About the counseling: We had a real problem (not $$-related) about 5 years ago. I suggested we get counseling. He refused, but said that he 100% supported my getting counseling for myself.


Quote
I mentioned this to him evening and he said: "A lot of people work with pain and disability." 

Quote
And guess what? I'd wind up with the $2,500 present I didn't want.

Quote
However, what is not fine is to go and announce to friends and acquaintances that he does all the housework himself!

Quote
Then, he proceeded to tell everyone from cab drivers, to checkout people, to people at the bank, to our friends and family, that he had gotten me a job

Quote
Yes. We are working on it. Although on more than one occasion, he has said precisely this and I quote: "Communication? That's your job!"

Maybe you're just getting tired of being treated with disrespect.

Thanks! I really appreciate the support. I should say though that a few posts on an internet forum -- any internet forum cannot sum up a person or a relationship. These quotes, while all true, are only a small part of the picture. Yes, there have certainly been times when I've not been as respected as I would have like, but for the most part we have a warm, fun, loving, if somewhat socially conservative and traditional relationship. And, of course, I've gotten to travel all over the world -- something I probably never would have been able to afford for myself on my salary alone no matter how frugal I managed to be.

tobitonic

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2016, 07:53:21 PM »
It seems like you go back and forth between calling him a great guy while listing a lot of not-so-great things about him. This suggests to me that you have a lot of resentment built into your marriage, and probably on both ends. You can solve things by forcing him to work more or by his forcing you to work more or by your forcing him to spend less or a number of other ways that involve guilting each other into things, but that'll just be more of what seems to be your typical interaction pattern as a couple when you disagree. So what do you do?

Normally, I'd suggest marital therapy books, but he seems too passive-aggressive to read them with you. So at that point, I'd suggest marital therapy, but from reading your posts, he's already turned that down--doubtlessly because he doesn't want a 3rd party to hear the way he interacts with you. At this point, I agree with everyone else suggesting splitting your bank accounts if you don't want to just go along with his plans. Because from the way you've described your marriage, that's exactly what's going to happen otherwise, and this will just be one more thing you resent him for but gave in to.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 07:58:29 PM by tobitonic »

tobitonic

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2016, 08:03:57 PM »
And as a side note, you said you had a "real" problem 5 years ago. If you don't consider the issue of who works and in what capacity and how you're going to spend the 3rd chapter of your lives (i.e., retirement) together a real problem, I'd be curious to hear what that problem was, and how you resolved it. Because I'd guess that was also another case where your opinions were trampled.

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2016, 05:48:26 AM »
It seems like you go back and forth between calling him a great guy while listing a lot of not-so-great things about him. This suggests to me that you have a lot of resentment built into your marriage, and probably on both ends.

Or it can suggest that we generally have a very good marriage, but were both stressed out and in an extremely bad mood two nights ago. When we are in a bad mood, he will say the occasional uncaring things like: "Well even the sick and disabled work!" I will reciprocate, then selectively remember every egregious thing he has said or done and post anonymously about it on an Internet forum. If I keep posting negative things over the course of a few months or years, then yes, I would agree that there are serious tensions in our marriage.

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2016, 05:56:11 AM »
And as a side note, you said you had a "real" problem 5 years ago. If you don't consider the issue of who works and in what capacity and how you're going to spend the 3rd chapter of your lives (i.e., retirement) together a real problem, I'd be curious to hear what that problem was, and how you resolved it. Because I'd guess that was also another case where your opinions were trampled.

The real problem 5 years ago had to do with sex. Well, you asked!!! :-) We were both having certain issues and mine were partly due to menopause. I went to an MD, who took my side and gave me a solution which wound up working. I went to the above-mentioned therapist by myself and annoyingly she took my husband's side. Therapist: "Well, you know there are A LOT of women who would love to do it every day with their husbands!" Implying that I should be grateful for the attention.  Like I said, my husband chose not to attend, but he did listen to what the doctor had to say (and not the stupid therapist) and thankfully, changed his behavior as well.

justajane

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2016, 06:30:09 AM »
I really feel for you about the trailing spouse issue and how that's shaped your employment for the rest of your life. As a lapsed academic, this isn't the first time I've seen this happen, and there's no real gender divide on this. It goes both ways. I've known some superstar female academics whose husbands languish as instructors for years.

It sounds like you've made as much peace with it as you could. What's your passion? Do you miss writing, publishing, academia? It sounds like you were pretty accomplished and that the way the original hire went years ago has eroded your confidence. I could be totally off base here - and correct me if I am! I was just wondering if there was a way to reclaim your own professional identity -- not by going back to work, since you don't want to do that. I mean reclaim your own accomplishments in whatever way you can. It does sound (at least to an outsider) that you have residual resentment about how all that went down. Do you think that's playing into any of this?

Has he ever acknowledged your sacrifice on that front?

Pigeon

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2016, 07:12:10 AM »
I think it would be very interesting to hear the other side of this story from the husband's perspective.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2016, 07:40:12 AM »
Forgive me if you covered this somewhere, but I'm not clear on why you're not both working right now.

charis

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2016, 12:41:22 PM »
Forgive me if you covered this somewhere, but I'm not clear on why you're not both working right now.

She discussed health issues above.

Melisande

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2016, 12:49:30 PM »
I really feel for you about the trailing spouse issue and how that's shaped your employment for the rest of your life. As a lapsed academic, this isn't the first time I've seen this happen, and there's no real gender divide on this. It goes both ways. I've known some superstar female academics whose husbands languish as instructors for years.

It sounds like you've made as much peace with it as you could. What's your passion? Do you miss writing, publishing, academia? It sounds like you were pretty accomplished and that the way the original hire went years ago has eroded your confidence. I could be totally off base here - and correct me if I am! I was just wondering if there was a way to reclaim your own professional identity -- not by going back to work, since you don't want to do that. I mean reclaim your own accomplishments in whatever way you can. It does sound (at least to an outsider) that you have residual resentment about how all that went down. Do you think that's playing into any of this?

Has he ever acknowledged your sacrifice on that front?

Maybe I'm an outlier on this, but I really feel great not working and even having given up my professional identity. I totally bought into what I now consider the myth that an intelligent woman *needs* to have a career and/or children (and preferably both) in order to be fulfilled. Actually, I think it would have been more fulfilling to have a career if academia was a fundamentally different place than it is (but it's not) and my particularly field (foreign language literature) was fundamentally different than I eventually learned that it was (lots and lots of complex analysis and research, little of which makes any real difference in the world at large nor even attempts to learn any kind of truth about literature, history, culture, etc.) I also simply craved real community and I wasn't getting that in academia. So, although I wound up quitting because of a complex situation that simply wasn't working out for us as a couple, I'm actually feeling happy about it in a way that I could have barely conceived many years ago when I started down the academic path.

So, my life now? Frankly, it's finding the balance between intellectual work and community that I don't think I could have ever found in academia. My husband and I joined a lay-led Unitarian Universalist society where I founded a choir (which I still direct), where I work on the "program planning team" to choose our speakers every week, where I was asked to co-author a "Covenant of Right Relations," where I serve on the board of directors and help out in many other ways. We love this place, we totally agree with the message (we don't have to pretend to believe things we don't believe), but most importantly of all, I feel like a have a true, real-life, in person social network -- lots of interesting friends and acquaintances who all know each other -- for the first time in many years.

I sing (classical) and, in fact, am performing an aria from Bach's B minor mass in a couple of weeks.

I also bird a lot by myself and with my husband. It's a great way of just chilling out in nature, or being competitive and finding a terrific rare warbler, or hanging out at a hotspot with birding friends (birding circle and fellowship circle overlap a little).

I'm in two different book clubs. One is more social where we might or might not discuss the book. The other is smaller and much more serious. There are only three of us, but we are all "retired" university profs. Currently, we are reading Ulysses. It's just like a grad seminar but without all the stress and sleepless nights. Another friend is an retired Spanish professor who has graciously offered to teach a free Spanish course for me and two other friends (just paid $29.99 for the course materials and that's it).

I keep my French up by communicating with 3 francophone friends I have in France and Switzerland. Two of them I Skype with about 1x/ week. (<=== FREE!!)

I love to cook and my husband loves my cooking, so I do a lot of that too. And of course, I do about 98% of the housework -- the gardening; the shopping; most of the laundry; all of the cooking; the cleaning; the trip planning -- hotels, flight, rental cars, sign hubby up for travel health clinic if necessary, get the visas if necessary, etc.; and, like I said, all of the finances. Whenever anything breaks, I'm in charge of getting it fixed. I have to say that I am not at all handy, so this generally involves getting a repair person involved.

Mostly, it's a win-win for myself and my husband. I'm have a great time and I'm actually making his life easier. We never really needed my extra salary and in the past, he wound up having to do things like the finances, repairs, etc. himself because I was too busy to deal with it. I am also physically present. When I was actively involved in academia, I'd have to travel for conferences or even spend months abroad with fellowships. I know that he much prefers my actually being here!

So, thanks for the support, but I really like the place where I am now. I feel like I have a fulfilling, interesting life which is frugal to boot (as long as we don't consider all the exotic travel which could easily be reduced if necessary .. and ... is not the thing that makes me the happiest).

The only thing I am considering doing a little differently is teach myself more about technology. My undergraduate degree was in computer science and that was my first career. I really enjoyed programming (the long hours, looming deadlines, silly workplace politics and bad bosses not so much) and think that if I could get back into this I would have a good fall back in case for some reason I really did need to make some money. Besides, knowledge about technology in our society == power (even if it isn't immediately translated into a salary).

Of course, I could always teach French as an adjunct, but I didn't go this route because the pay is humiliatingly low -- about $1000 for a 3-credit course, which means about $8,000 (gross) for 9 months of full-time work. No way! I probably have saved that much just by taking the time to get a great re-finance deal on our house, cooking at home, not having to buy work clothes, etc.

Axecleaver

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2016, 02:28:47 PM »
Your original question was about how to have the discussion with your husband about responding to potentially lower income. I believe this is a problem of different filters: your husband sees the income loss and immediately seeks to fix it with replacement income. You want to lower expenses.

Have a conversation about the original problem: what would we, as a team, do to solve this problem of lower income? Lay out the options, which come down to: make more, or spend less. Which do we each prefer? Then it's an exercise in pro/con, looking at the various options and what it means to each of you.

As an academic administrator, he has spent his life getting people, over whom he has extremely limited power, to do stuff they don't want to do. I'm going to suggest that you'll hear lots of good reasons why you should go back to work. Counter these with lots of good reasons why you should cut your spending.

PS: I love that he's drinking the kool-aid at work, but when academia institutes systems to improve performance, the easiest way to deal with it is to game the metrics. You can be certain that his underlings will. Most administrators just set up easily gamed metrics and call the problem solved.

PPS: Had a good laugh at "Half of your professors are below average." Cue Lake Wobegon Fallacy discussion.

MayDay

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2016, 10:23:59 AM »
This is eerily similar to my parents' marriage. 

My mom does still work, but has always made a fraction of what my dad makes.  He frequently throws it in her face and makes other disparaging comments.

My dad is a university admin.

My dad is a science/engineering person and will logic the crap out of you, and straight up refuses any type of counseling.

They have in the vicinity of 1.5 million saved.

They are not on the same page about money (although to a lesser degree than you two).

My mom almost left my dad before.  There is a real chance she will again at some point.  In many ways, I think she would be happier taking half their net worth, and going her own way. 

Anyway, long story short, if I was going to armchair counsel you, I'd say you should put some money in the "general living expenses" bucket, and split the rest between you.  At this point it doesn't matter if you or he work or not- you can both afford to do whatever you want.  You could easily live off of half your net worth, right?  So could he- but if he chooses to work, that is fine too.  And if he chooses to travel- go for it! 

I mean, counseling, and getting on the same page, and having a joint budget would be better.  But apparently that is not going to happen. 

sleepyguy

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Re: Apprehensive about spouse's work-related decision
« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2016, 10:33:05 AM »
Ask him this... in 20-30yrs (death) from now... will he want to know he spent more time at work or with loved ones...