Author Topic: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)  (Read 36191 times)

Dr. Doom

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I'm an avid MMM reader/lurker but rarely post.  Recently – probably due to the massive market runup – I've hit my FIRE number.  Myself and the SO can, fairly easily just do this thing, live off 3%, and be done with the working world. 

Unfortunately, now that it comes to it, it's suddenly an issue, this whole FIRE thing.  Before I get into it, let me share the the financial details as per case study guidelines. 

Age:  Both 36
Income:   180K combined
Current Expenses:  55K combined (includes mortgage, taxes, and all other living expenses)
Expected Expenses after FIRE: 40K 
Assets: 
700K house, 300Kish equity
1.2 mil in a combination of 401(k), Roth, and taxable accounts (mostly Vanguard)

1 car, 5 year old corrolla with 45K on it, great condition.

No kids

Note that the the 15K drop between Current and Expected will come from downsizing our home, using the equity to buy a place half of the cost (but probably the same general area of the country) and having no mortgage plus reduced property taxes.  It'd be a bigger drop, except that we'd suddenly have to buy health care, which ain't cheap.
 
We live close to a city, have short commutes, share the car.

Let's get into the issues here:
SO is on board with the MMM mindset.  She's frugal, never shops for pleasure, enjoys cutting expenses, doesn't care about vacations, hates waste.  That's how we've gotten to the place we are.  I know we could drop expenses further but we live next to a major city and housing takes up a good chunk of our dough (which is why we will downsize after leaving our jobs).

It seems like we're in a great position, yeah?  But somehow it doesn't feel that way.  The issue is that my SO
a) doesn't want to retire (even though she doesn't like her job much -- she certainly doesn't love it)
but...
b) doesn't want to keep working if I am not.

We love each other and we're committed.   We don't have serious relationship problems – or at least didn't, until now. But I have to admit: This is a big problem for me.  I want to finally take action on this thing and stop working.  I've got plenty of hobbies to keep me occupied, and I also have at 20 hours of volunteer work per week lined up whenever I pull the plug on the day job.  I have concrete goals outside of working.  But she has no such plans.  She blindly goes to the office, saves money, and appears to be on work-save-FIRE auto-pilot, (crazily, without any plans to actually RE).  I don't know what she wants to save all of this money for if she doesn't actually want to retire.  I know I'm repeating a point here, but I want to emphasize that she does not love her job.  She's sort of addicted to some of the non-monetary benefits, like the forced social contacts and the sense of control that comes with being in charge of people and managing projects, etc.  (It's a corporate gig.)  But she complains about hours and stress and politics and the relationship with her current manager.   And it wears her out – she's tired all of the time.  If you ask me, she needs a change.  But a the same time, she's terrified of actually doing anything.   We can't even talk about it for more than 10 minutes at a time before the discussion escalates into something resembling more of a real fight, at which point I have to drop the subject until she cools off.

I think what it comes down to is that I've taken steps to figure out what I'm going to do after retiring from the 8-5 working world, and she hasn't.  She's worried about loss of structure and esteem (sense of purpose) if she leaves her job: she won't know what to do with herself.  But she's also really worried about what it'll do to our relationship if I am not working and she is, to the point where she recently said, paraphrased, “Don't quit your job if I'm still working, it'll be the beginning of the end of our relationship.”

I could hang in at my job for a while longer while she sorts it out.  I mean, there are tangible benefits to waiting, as we'd further reducing risk of running out of money as we continue to save, etc.  But I'm really worried she won't sort it out and will want to keep working (for, in my mind, no apparent reason.      We know what enough is, and we have it.)

If she does, then I'm effectively forced to choose between pursuing RE (which is synonymous with "the rest of my life") and her.  If not now, then about 3 years from now, tops.  It's been my dream since 21 to retire before 40 and I'm going to execute this plan, with or without her.  But I desperately want to do it with her.

Any thoughts on how to get her to come around on this or alternate ways to approach the situation?
What would you do?

footenote

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 12:43:06 PM »
I suspect the root of the problem here is that you can envision this new life and she cannot. As I mentioned in another thread, it's common to be terrified of losing the ego gratification of professional work. (As you enumerated: "forced social contacts and the sense of control that comes with being in charge of people and managing projects, etc.")

Right now you're looking at it from your point of view and that's understandable: "Why the heck can't I quit my job? Why am I a hostage to your need to work?"

Try looking at it from her point of view. Say out loud "I hear you when you say x, y, z." Encourage her to talk about her current ego gratification.

To bridge her into envisioning FIRE, ask her what she would do if you jointly won a $200 million powerball lottery. She clearly feels she needs to keep working for some (likely emotional) reason; figure out that root cause and you can start to make progress.

Whatever you do, get out of this either/or, zero-sum-game mindset. It will lead to one or the other of you being miserable and eventually bitter.

BC_Goldman

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 01:29:53 PM »
Have you talked about the possibility of her doing volunteer work where she can still get her social contracts fix?

My other thought would be to see if you both can take an extended vacation from work (2+ weeks) and get a feel for RE.

Villanelle

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 01:35:51 PM »
Help her explore other possibilities, if that's her issue.

Maybe you can come up with a combination of hobbies, volunteer work, and even a part time job that will give her what she needs while allowing her to retire. 

But has she actually articulated why she doesn't want to quit, and that it is the loss of purpose and  uncertainty about her time?  Or is that just your guess?


ShortInSeattle

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2013, 02:01:38 PM »
It seems to me that your wife's worries about ER are pretty reasonable, FOR HER.  Right? She doesn't have a plan, she likes the comfort of a paycheck, and she isn't feeling emotionally ready to pull the plug from work. 

You know what? I think that is OK.

What sounds less OK is keeping you chained to your job just because she isn't emotionally ready to leave hers. 

I can understand how the prospect of you ERing while she still works may sound threatening.  Are you going to jump on a plane and travel the world without her?  Are you going to become this entirely new person post-work - and how will it change your dynamic?  Will you still be as close, as connected, as loved?  I can see how it can be scary.

So my friend, your job is to help her articulate her concerns and address them together to the point where she isn't so fearful.

I can see this conversation happening in a few stages:

1) Agreement on Financial Stability:  Does she agree that the two of you are FI?  Do you have adequate plans in place in case of the unforseen?  Does she agree that you are both able to RE if money was the only factor?

2) Talking about post ER Life:  Talk to her a bit about what you envision your life looking like post-work.  Will you wake up together?  How will you fill your days?  Talk about your ideas and ask her to share some of hers too.  "If you were not tied down to your job, what would you do with your time?  Or would you be happiest continuing to work?"

3) Frame the Choice:  Once you are solid on stage one, present the decision to be made.  "Honey, we've worked really hard to be FI and we are finally there.  I am so ready to quit my job!  The thing I don't know is if you are ready to quit yours.  You can quit, anytime you want.  We'll be fine.  But I realize that whether we retire together or I retire first and you work cause you want to... it's going to make our life a bit topsy turvy for a while.  It's going to be different when one or both of us doesn't work.  So what are your thoughts?  Are there things you are worried about?"

Listen, Listen, Listen.  There is something going on that is making her uneasy. You need to discover together what that is.

4) Set the Date:  As you two start to come to an agreement on what is acceptable for you both, establish an exit date.  "When I retire next year...." etc.

I'd suggest that these conversations unfold over a few months, not a few days.  Your task isn't to convince her of anything.  Your task is to understand what fears are holding her back.

Hope this helps.

StarryC

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2013, 02:18:25 PM »
I would confront each potential issue, one at a time. 
1) Meet with some sort of and discuss your financial adviser or professional.  You feel confident you have enough, and that it is possible, but is it possible that she just isn't as certain?  Hearing it from a "professional" might help.  Also, how is your money organized?  Could she be worried that if she quits, and then you pull a JD Roth and divorce her she'll be in trouble? 

2) I think you should meet with a counselor.  It sounds like there are underlying issues.  Where do you stand on kids?  How do her family and friends react to the idea of early retirement/ not working?  (Will her parents think you are a dead beat, or her friends think she is being lazy?) Does she like the city more than you think?  If you start meeting with a counselor now, these things might become more clear, and you might see why she is reluctant. 

3) Explore solutions to your differences.  If the organization/ activity/ recognition is the problem, maybe in the next year to two years she could scale back on work a little while getting involved in some service organization with the goal of getting on the board or planning team.  Are you thinking about children? Maybe you do that in the next 2 years, and see how she feels after maternity leave.  Maybe you two downshift to part time, or take a few long vacations/ sabbaticals/ leaves of absence and see how it feels. Maybe you decide to start a business of some sort to give the impression of working to tell her parents and friends (consulting? real estate?). 

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2013, 08:47:34 AM »

Folks on this board continue to amaze me -- lots of well thought out, sensible suggestions and good questions.
I suspect the root of the problem here is that you can envision this new life and she cannot.

Encourage her to talk about her current ego gratification.

Whatever you do, get out of this either/or, zero-sum-game mindset. It will lead to one or the other of you being miserable and eventually bitter.

Footenote, yes, I agree completely.  We need to work on this. 




Villanelle

But has she actually articulated why she doesn't want to quit, and that it is the loss of purpose and  uncertainty about her time?  Or is that just your guess?


Yes, she's voiced exactly this.  "If I don't get some sense of importance out of my job, I don't know where else I'm going to find that."  It's a completely valid concern.  If she wants to continue to work, that's OK with me to be honest.  My #1 problem is that she wants me to continue to work in the formal office-slave model and has indicated that if I retire before her it will spell serious relationship problems. So there's work to be done to assuage her fears here.  Of course I'd really prefer that she retire as well -- work has many negative effects on her and only one positive that I can see at this point (sense of ego gratification and identification).  I'm certain there's a better way to manage life that will make her (us) more vibrant and happy.  (We've been together 13 years and she was much happier and energetic a decade ago... the work grind has definitely been wearing us down and, in some ways, even reducing our sense of possibility.  Nothing like being in the same routine for a decade and a half to make you feel like living any other way is crazy talk.)

It seems to me like she used to be excited about the prospect of doing something different but now, the idea terrifies her.  I am not sure how to make her enthusiastic about it.  I can't give her dreams and alternate goals -- I think those have to come from within, right? 

After mulling over the comments, I've decided to take a phased approach.  This is not an emergency situation and is something that will take time and effort to overcome. 


Phase 1: 
Agreeing on FI.  I have to admit, I'm much more into the finances of this thing than she is.  When I say things like "we're OK with a conservative 3% pull on our assets" it doesn't really compute for her and she doesn't always trust my research and conclusions.  I'm a little hesitant to bring in a financial planner to validate our readiness, because s/he might start spouting nonsense like "you need 80% of pre-retirement income in retirement" which everyone on this board knows is bunk.  But there is, no doubt, work to be done here so that she's comfortable.

Phase 2:  Post ER life.
SO knows most of the details of what I'm planning on doing.   And there is some resentment against me for "being ready" and "having a plan."  It's her fear that she'll come home every day tired and miserable after another day of office drama, technical issues, outage management, etc and want someone to commisserate with, when instead of sitting down for a bitch session, I tell her that I'm really happy and she could be too.

So a big part of this phase is working on her end of the plan.  Does she want to volunteer?  Or move to another field where she would find the work more rewarding?  What did she want to do with life before the corporate grind reduced her sense of possibility?  We need to restore her sense that leaving her job and moving to something else is a good thing -- the sense that she had 7 or 8 years ago.

I also really like the idea of taking 2 weeks off work and trial-running it.  Not right away but somewhat down the road, maybe toward the end of this phase.

Phase 3:  Producing concrete exit plans
This could probably be done in parallel with Phase 2.  We will need to move and this means selecting a timeframe, picking a new house, selling the old one, all that jazz.


To answer some of the other questions:
-We're both in agreement that we're not having children.  Actually she's very opposed to having kids.  We take our parenting instincts out on nephews, which can then thankfully be returned to the humans that originated them.
-Yes, I do think that she's concerned about perception of friends/family if she's not working.  Or I'm not "officially" working.  We need to work on this.  I don't care personally -- I know I will be busy, and I know that I'm the opposite of lazy, so it doesn't matter what other people think of me.  But I recognize it's important to her.
-There's little or no concern about the division of assets.  We earn roughly the same amount of money and have been working the same # of years so we feel like our contributions have been very close to 50/50.
-She does like the city more than I do.  We can take that into account as we work on the move.  I'm willing to compromise on this in order to do something that works better for her.

I'm also going to see if I can work part-time at my employer to help the transition.  This would be somewhere in phase 2.  Might suggest she do the same, also somewhere in phase 2.

In my head I think I'm going to target 2016 to make the final jump (phase 4:  execution of plans!)  but this could change based on how discussions go.

Thanks for all the advice, much appreciated. We'll get there. 







ch12

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2013, 01:47:08 PM »
People have already given you excellent advice.

I've seen this same issue with my own parents. My dad is happy as a clam being retired and my mom is afraid of retiring.

You have to retire to something. Tim Ferriss calls the idea of 9-to-5 until you're senile the deferred life plan. http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/introduction/

Most people have dreams from when they were younger. Then, they went into the corporate world and bought into the normal paradigm of working until you qualify for Medicare.

One of the formative experiences I had was when I was 18 and I was studying in China. People in MBA programs from all over the world were hanging out in the same classrooms as me in Beijing and learning from Chinese business professors.

There was a lovely woman from Lancastershire in the UK in her 50s. She was an executive and she really enjoyed the experience. Her son was my age. She said something to the effect of, "You young things have so much energy and it's really good for me. I was very adventurous when I was younger - I traveled around the world twice and the second time was by myself. I had all these dreams, but they got put on the shelf. I got a mortgage and had a family, and it didn't leave time for all the things that I said that I would do."

If you are 36, then your 20-something idealistic self is probably even closer to the surface than the 50-something Lancastershire woman. Revisit what she wanted to do then; this decision isn't about you. It's about her and what she honestly wants.

impaire

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2013, 02:31:20 PM »
Lots of great advice here already, and a very sensible plan for OP. Two more suggestions, to integrate or disregard!

- Can you perhaps agree on YOU trial-retiring? "Retirement" sounds like a one-way street, there's no reason that it has to feel so final. This could be in addition to the two-week trial run--you're trying ER for [3,6, 12 months, your choice] but then you're open to reevaluate the situation and potentially look for a job if you both agree the situation is not working out?
- Talking of which--perhaps dumping the word "retirement" and trying out "sabbatical" might help, along with a little story of what you are going to do: you are going to explore... [add your story here: social work, hobby X, passion Y, etc.], it may feel less threatening to her, and provide her with a socially more acceptable story to tell ("we've been saving for a long time so that Q_Train can give a shot to...")

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 08:44:51 PM »
I've seen this same issue with my own parents. My dad is happy as a clam being retired and my mom is afraid of retiring.

You have to retire to something. Tim Ferriss calls the idea of 9-to-5 until you're senile the deferred life plan.

Interesting, my parents are the opposite:  Mom retired early from the stressful life of the RN and didn't look back.  Dad worked until he couldn't work any more, 68 as a mechanical draftsman, retired just a year ago and already hates it, drives the moms crazy.  Mom retired  early (10 years ago) to being extremely active in her church, gardening, and tutoring disadvantaged kids.  She's much happier.  Dad retired to nothing and sort of mopes.  If I had to guess, I bet he'd rather be working his old job.


- Can you perhaps agree on YOU trial-retiring? "Retirement" sounds like a one-way street, there's no reason that it has to feel so final. This could be in addition to the two-week trial run--you're trying ER for [3,6, 12 months, your choice] but then you're open to reevaluate the situation and potentially look for a job if you both agree the situation is not working out?
- Talking of which--perhaps dumping the word "retirement" and trying out "sabbatical" might help, along with a little story of what you are going to do: you are going to explore... [add your story here: social work, hobby X, passion Y, etc.], it may feel less threatening to her, and provide her with a socially more acceptable story to tell ("we've been saving for a long time so that Q_Train can give a shot to...")

I think that yes, we could agree on just myself "taking sabbatical" as long as we work through phases 1 (agreeing on FI) and 2 (post ER life framework -- at least for me) prior. 

I had a discussion with her yesterday that was pretty reasonable.  The main thing that came out of it was a request to build a presentation (think: powerpoint) to make my case.   To convince her that we're FI, to establish the future plans, and to have a concrete, documented schematic that she can reference and try to poke holes in.   We're both pretty big geeks so I consider this request to be fun, actually -- an opportunity to organize all data and dreams into one big formal report and make the pitch.   

Of course, this won't solve the problem of creating a vision for her own ideal RE or (new word alert) sabbat-itized life but it should hopefully help me to fix the main problem, the one for which I opened this thread, which is for her to be comfortable with me moving forward with RE even if she isn't yet ready.  I'm also hoping that it becomes a launching point for her to get more excited thinking about her own future. 

Cheers


footenote

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 05:29:12 AM »
Q_T - Great progress, I'm enthused for you! I love the geeky Powerpoint / "Show Me" idea. Congratulations on sticking with her and moving forward in the dialog. Keep us updated on what I'm sure will be a happy ending.

ch12

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2013, 05:49:07 AM »
Q_T - Great progress, I'm enthused for you! I love the geeky Powerpoint / "Show Me" idea. Congratulations on sticking with her and moving forward in the dialog. Keep us updated on what I'm sure will be a happy ending.

Yay!

I've seen this same issue with my own parents. My dad is happy as a clam being retired and my mom is afraid of retiring.

You have to retire to something. Tim Ferriss calls the idea of 9-to-5 until you're senile the deferred life plan.

Interesting, my parents are the opposite:  Mom retired early from the stressful life of the RN and didn't look back.  Dad worked until he couldn't work any more, 68 as a mechanical draftsman, retired just a year ago and already hates it, drives the moms crazy.  Mom retired  early (10 years ago) to being extremely active in her church, gardening, and tutoring disadvantaged kids.  She's much happier.  Dad retired to nothing and sort of mopes.  If I had to guess, I bet he'd rather be working his old job.

My mom works for the family business while my dad used to be a Ford employee who was quickly out the door when they offered voluntary layoffs with pensions in 2005. According to my dad, they called him somewhere around a half dozen times in the subsequent year trying to get him to come back to work.

What that experience taught me was that factory employees (my dad wasn't a line worker but some sort of troubleshooter) are considered fungible, but each employee is responsible for a different rate of productivity; Ford knew this, and sent fancy consultants with clipboards to the ailing factory multiple times in an effort to make it profitable. In a sane world, the least productive workers would be laid off while the more productive workers would stay on. When the whole place is a union shop, logic goes out the door. Ford said, "Ok, guys, if you want to leave, we will give you money and health insurance if you are age x or above." My dad has been retired since. He now spends his time remodeling our house in Florida.

justchristine

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 06:36:32 AM »
Once you've got her comfortable with the financial aspect of it (yes, my love, we will have food on the table and a roof over our head), I would try to help her get a better vision of what HER retirement could be like.  Sort of make a game of it, taking turns making suggestions of things that would be fun to do that she doesn't currently have time to do.  I imagine you have a pretty good handle on her likes and dislikes, so if you help her brainstorm ideas of what could be that might help in a couple ways.  First it would help get her creative juices flowing so she can think past her current drudgery.  Second, it would make the whole idea of retirement more of a 'WE' thing instead of just a 'YOU' thing.

historienne

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 03:12:17 PM »
If part of the sticking point is that she doesn't want you to retire before her, can you make a case to her that your retirement will actually make her life better?  She's worried about coming home to you rubbing her face in your free time.  But what if, instead, she will be coming in the door to a home cooked meal every night?

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2013, 08:12:59 AM »
If part of the sticking point is that she doesn't want you to retire before her, can you make a case to her that your retirement will actually make her life better?  She's worried about coming home to you rubbing her face in your free time.  But what if, instead, she will be coming in the door to a home cooked meal every night?

This made me literally laugh out loud -- I already cook all of our meals (insist on it actually, and we're both happy with this arrangement) and then we'll clean together because it is just so much faster and more pleasant to work as a team on the mess. 

But yeah, I have been doing my best to assure her that I'll (almost) never brag or rub her face in it, etc and her response is basically "If I see you're happier and I'm still miserable, it's the same thing."  My take is that she's telling me she'll be jealous and resentful.  Even though she shouldn't be, doesn't have to be.  But to your point, it definitely makes sense to illustrate concrete payoffs that will come for her or "us"  due to changes in my lifestyle.  It's almost like I'm selling.  Maybe I should watch some Mad Men for inspiration.  RE.  It's toasted.




« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 08:15:13 AM by Q_Train »

Elaine

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2013, 09:33:53 AM »
Maybe you need to ask her what exactly about it she's afraid of, like ask her to explain her worst case scenario vision of early retirement. Maybe she has some fears or anxieties that she hasn't articulated to you before. She could also just need some time to think about what to do when she no longer needs to work, I think especially for women it can be hard to give up a job since certain people will make assumptions about your ability to do that (i.e. assume you are supported by your spouse/SO). I know that would be a concern for me personally, obviously I don't know your SO, but as a female in a long term relationship who is working toward FI it is something I've thought about. I would also have trouble retiring without having a pretty solid plan of what I was doing. If she's an achiever type (I am) , this could cause huge anxiety- I mention it because it doesn't sound like she's worried about running out of money, more that she's worried about how to define herself as a woman in a relationship with no children AND not working. Encouraging her to try new things may help her find something she's passionate about that could fill her time in ER, then she will feel she is moving from one identity (worker) to another- instead of just losing a part of herself.

Tyler

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2013, 11:00:41 AM »
Just my 2-cents:

To my ear, your wife's hesitation is emotional and not financial.  Vocalizing doubt about your relationship should you retire and she keep working (in a job she doesn't really care for anyway) is also a big red flag for me.  Coupled with your statement that you'll be doing this with or without her, to be honest that feels like a symptom of a deeper relationship issue that needs to be addressed whether you FIRE or not.

Now I have no idea what her core emotional hang-up could be, but one additional possibility is that there are personal relationships at work that she is afraid to lose by leaving and/or moving.  Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open to factors that really have little to do with work or FIRE. 

That said, it sounds like you're doing a great job of talking this through.  Just be sure to listen more than you talk. 
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 11:06:58 AM by Tyler »

impaire

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2013, 11:04:12 AM »

But yeah, I have been doing my best to assure her that I'll (almost) never brag or rub her face in it, etc and her response is basically "If I see you're happier and I'm still miserable, it's the same thing."

Well, err... I'm not much to be a hardass, and I still heartily encourage you to try and sugarcoat the pill (no need to rehash, your plan sounds good to me)... But frankly that's messed up. I don't see how being miserable together should warm the cockles of her heart (love that stupid phrase). If she actually means that, she's got some work to do on herself; if not, you need to find out what the real hangup is...

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2013, 12:44:46 PM »
Perhaps you could also commit to once a month (or whatever), doing something that might help her (or help "both of you" if that is more palatable to her) find some things that might fill her time post-retirement.

Go volunteer an afternoon at a Ronald McDonald house.  If she likes the organization, they would surely be happy to have her once a week.  Repeat with an senior center and a boys and girls club (and whatever other organizations might aline with her interests).  Spend an afternoon gardening (either at your home or as a volunteer somewhere).  Try taking an art or ballroom dancing or sewing or..., at a local community college. 

Do these things together and laugh and the ones that are bombs, and maybe repeat the ones you enjoy.  And in the process, maybe she will start to see life and purpose after work. 

lovesthesea

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2013, 07:24:36 PM »
I agree that this seems more emotional than anything else.  It seems like it's about some change that needs to happen in the way you're going to be relating to each other in the next phase of your lives.

I imagine you've both been working as a team in a common pull to make money and retire, likely joined in the sense that you both don't love your job, both are achievers, both have this vision of 'some day' together.  My thought is that this "joined" kind of relationship is probably ending and a new, more emotionally autonomous kind of relationship is on the verge of becoming.  (This would seem very natural for a committed couple.) But it seems like you both want to stay joined: her (with you) in miserable work, you (with her) in a free retired life.   It seems like up until now you've been one whole, not two separatenesses coming together (this is just a guess based on your story).  In short, I think your SO needs to learn how to get more deeply in touch with herself and take responsibility for her own life and happiness!  If this means soul-searching for what's next in life, or figuring out what keeps her at her job, the task is hers.  To lay her happiness on you is only going to try to keep you both in the chrysalis of the "joined" state you've been in.  And it also seems like you might need to not see it as all-or-nothing, i.e. she either joins you or you leave.  I think you should follow your heart (retire) AND stay with her.  You can prepare for retirement financially, but there's no way to fully prepare for what's going to come if your SO decides she needs to keep working.  My guess would be that the real issues will then really come up.  But you can work through them.  (“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” –John F. Kennedy) I personally don't think life-time commitment is about being the same as your partner or always in sync; it's about enjoying the experience of knowing somebody deeply.


chasesfish

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2013, 07:40:31 PM »
I'm on the side of asking her to consider a mid-career sabbatical.  Will her company allow her to take 3 months off, unpaid?  What type of work is she in?

I think it's the emotional questions/sense of worth.  Does she(or you) have friends outside of work, or are they the primary people you and her interact with?

TrMama

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2013, 11:44:33 AM »
Is part of her hesitation the fact that RE also means moving? Nothing in your posts touched on this, but leaving her job is obviously something she's uncomfortable with. Added to that, moving is an extremely stressful experience for most people. Perhaps you're just proposing too many big changes at once. Can you break it into smaller steps?

Have you narrowed down the location you want to move to? Is she concerned that by moving she'll lose her local contacts and therefore be unable to return to work, if RE doesn't work out for her? Maybe you could use one of your two week sabbaticals to visit some potential retirement locations? Look at houses, check out the community. Allow her to "see" herself there.

Have you ever moved somewhere new as a couple before? My husband and I have moved x-country twice. The first time was definitely rough, the second one went smoother. A third is likely in our future since we feel we've mastered the steepest part of the learning curve.

adasafa

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2013, 10:06:44 PM »
Try having your SO write out all her worries/frustrations/thoughts about the whole matter.

Your posts are very well written and I am able to get a great feel for how you feel about the situation. Give her a chance to do this as well. You mention that a conversation does not reach the 10 minute mark without your wife becoming frustrated. Perhaps communicate back and worth in writing how you two feel about the situation. That way your wife can take her time and write down everything she feels without it escalating into a fight.

Just be careful what you write because she might make a copy and bring out it years later!!!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 10:09:32 PM by adasafa »

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2014, 09:01:14 PM »
Edit:  Regretful airing of dirty laundry.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2014, 09:20:24 PM by Dr. Doom »

Emilyngh

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2014, 09:13:06 PM »
Wow, sorry about this.

I don't have any good advice, I'm afraid, but just wanted you to know that that sounds like a tough spot. :(

I don't understand what she's afraid of.   DH SAH and does a good job of making my life easier, and I love it so much that I'm not looking forward to him possibly working PT when DD goes to school FT.   SO, I just don't really get why she'd be bothered by it.   Perhaps it's just that change is hard?   Or going against the norm or what one imagines originally for their life is harder for some?

Good luck!

Cressida

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2014, 09:15:09 PM »
god. I'm really sorry. It does sound baffling. Best of luck.

LAL

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2014, 11:00:01 PM »
Same problem. When I brought up fire to dh he said what will I do?  He said he couldn't be unemployed or retired. It's ridiculous. We are definitely on track with kids to be able to in I'd say five years we'd be 40/42. But I don't think my dh will do it. It gives self esteem and sense of accomplishment and pride.

Fwiw my dad at 83 is still working and trust me he was forced to take rmd and ss at 70.  My mom retired at 55 is 62 now and works part time. Yeah she's got 70% pension and medical for life. They have more money than they know what to do with and three paid for homes no debt. But both see themselves as productive.

My mom tells me all the time I need to stop staying at home with my kids and start working to define myself. And I need to contribute to society.

I think I married someone cut from the same cloth. But I do love him and if he wants to keep working I won't argue. When he's ready he'll be ready. My in-laws are the same, still working for no reason other than they said they are bored.


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Scandium

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2014, 07:18:57 AM »
Not quite the same, but have a similar communication issue. My wife is not interested in discussing money much at all, at least not savings/investment. A this point if I bring it up I usually get "we don't have to talk about that now".  We're frugal, but she gets annoyed when I try to discuss what to invest, savings, paying of mortgage (and the savings account can never be too large..). And she seems resigned to "we'll probably work till 68", as if that's the only way and that's it..

I'm wondering if finding a way to include her in the finances might help? She deal with her own accounts (401k, roth), but mostly because it's automatic. Maybe showing her some plot of we'll have $1mill at age X. Or a joint Personal Capital account where she could see it all? Thinking this might help OP as well if she doesn't quite "believe" your numbers. I'm pretty sure I'll be in your situation if we ever have FIRE money.

Anyone have any ideas to include a spouse who find money scary, frustrating or annoying? If they don't want to be included is it even worth it?

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2014, 07:58:30 AM »
Does the perception of the outside world mean anything to her, you think?  Is it influencing her decision?  What will they think?

Yeah, probably somewhat.  She's a guardian-type personality.  Perfectly rational when it comes to things like should I buy item A or B.  Perfectly irrational when it comes to making decisions that she thinks the crowd will judge her on.  She doesn't mind being different in small ways, like owning an older vehicle.  But not having a job?  Even thinking about it produces a great deal of anxiety and fear.  She shuts down, doesn't want to talk further.

The issue isn't that she wants to keep working.  The issue is that she says if I stop working it's over.  I have been working on trying to change her perception on this for about a year now.  No headway.  In fact, she's more heated about it than ever.  She wants zero changes in her life while I am fairy intent on leaving my current position in the next 9 months.  Tops.

We are very, very good at communicating about logistical things, like how are we going to fit in errands plus visits to family plus exercise plus <insert_obligation_here>.  Also talking about consumer choices is easy.

But feelings?  Emotions?  Very difficult for her.  The lack of healthy communication in this area means we can't make progress on things that matter to -- forgive the dramatic word but it's appropriate here -- our souls.

It's deadlock.  It feels like I can't have both:  RE/Sabbatical/Gap years, whatever you want to call it, plus this relationship.  She doesn't trust that me not working while she's still going to work is going to be OK, and she's not willing to give it a try -- she's instead preferring to tell me to get lost in advance:  A pre-emptive relationship strike.

Believe it or not, the above post is a lot less emotional than the one I made (and probably wisely deleted) last night.

BTW, I realize it might sound like we don't love each other.  That's wrong, we absolutely do.  We spend a lot of time together and there's warmth and intimacy.  Just none to be had on this subject.



Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2014, 08:07:03 AM »
Thinking this might help OP as well if she doesn't quite "believe" your numbers. I'm pretty sure I'll be in your situation if we ever have FIRE money.

Thanks for the thoughtful response...  my SO does trust my numbers.  She does think they're a little lean on a 3% withdrawal.  I think part of her still has this fantasy of "the good life" -- multiple houses, throwing money around without conscious thought.  Quitting effectively destroys any possibility of being able to unthinkingly spend money.  It's interesting to me, because she likes this fantasy even though she's pretty frugal, buys 2nd hand clothes, eat at home every night, bring lunch to work most days, share a compact car with me, most of that good mustachian stuff, etc.  But again, money really isn't the primary concern as best I can tell -- I've gone over the finances, complete with a powerpoint presentation, charts, and all of that, and she gets it:  We'll be OK.  I have also made the point that in all likelihood our money will double or triple over time.  (The actual outcome will have a lot to do with sequence of returns, of course.)



Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2014, 08:15:15 AM »
My mom tells me all the time I need to stop staying at home with my kids and start working to define myself. And I need to contribute to society.

I think this is one of the key issues.  I believe that
a) People can be very productive without a formal job -- and you are being plenty productive being a parent, I am sure --
and
b) It doesn't matter whether or not I'm working, ultimately.  I'm an easily replaced cog.  I don't believe in work for the sake of work, and I don't think my function adds a lot of value to the world.  I've tried to convince myself otherwise for periods of time but I start to get unhappy because of the stress produced by attempting intentional cognitive dissonance. 

Lesson learned: I can't consciously make myself believe something I don't.

CarDude

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2014, 08:16:21 AM »
You guys need counseling. This issue is an emotional one, and she's no longer listening to you because all she's hearing when you talk is I'M GOING TO LEAVE YOU. You're not, of course, but she sees you leaving work as leaving her, as she's not ready to leave work because she's afraid of what people will think of her. Regardless of how logical you say she is, this isn't a logical issue, and she's dug in her heels, so I doubt book therapy will help, since she'll just see that as you trying to use more logic against her.

Do your best to get to a couple's therapist with her, and give her a chance to explain her fears to a 3rd party, or else she'll continue to avoid facing them with you.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 08:17:53 AM by CarSafetyGuy »

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #32 on: May 16, 2014, 08:39:37 AM »
You guys need counseling.

Thanks for the direct advice.  I agree.  I'm going to look into it.

ambimammular

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #33 on: May 16, 2014, 09:11:03 AM »
Your story reads like a financial soap opera. 

Please keep us posted on your progress with SO.  I'm wondering if I may end up in a similar position when we eventually FIRE.  I'd love to see what works.


Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #34 on: May 16, 2014, 09:22:01 AM »
So she wants you to have a job. Does it have to be your current job? Have you considered getting a "dream job" whatever that means for you? Maybe in order to keep her current job, you'd have to be flexible and make it geographically work with your current car sharing arrangement. I realize this would likely be a short term solution that wouldn't really fix your issues, but it could be a nice transitional period for you both.

I'm a very interested observer because I could see having similar problems when I feel we're ready in 5-7 years. I think my issues will be more about convincing my wife the numbers make sense. While describing FIRE to her she once asked "I don't understand where the money will come from?". These are not discussions she likes to have, so I've been unable to truly explain it well at this point.

Good luck to you Dr.

lemonlime

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2014, 09:30:28 AM »
I strongly agree with the posters who recommended counseling. It seems like you could both benefit from some perspective from a professional who has training and experience in helping people uncover what is really lying beneath these types of issues.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2014, 09:52:06 AM »
Thanks again to all who posted.  I'm going to discuss counseling with DW and hopefully have something set up by the end of May.

I'll continue to keep this thread updated.  Wouldn't want to deprive folks of the continuing soap.

Really had no idea the last year of FIRE would be so challenging.  I initially thought:  Damn, I've far exceeded the 4% rule, I'm done!

So, so wrong.


EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2014, 11:37:09 AM »
One other bit of logic that I used with my DW was that everyone has to retire eventually, and usually not by choice; we are just fortunate to have hit our number before retiring.  This helps frame ER in a positive perspective, that you are in control of your life as opposed to being a slave to circumstances, other's expectations, etc.  I even pointed out that we have more than most people when they hit 'retirement age', which helped simplify the SWR and tax efficiency discussions, but those aspects help show we aren't 'crazy'.  There are also people like 'gocurrycracker' and the Kaderlis that have done this successfully...

So, at some point, FI people are essentially 'choosing' to go to their job.  I, personally, would much rather choose a different way to spend my new constraint, that being time.

It also helped to have long walks together and discuss our life goals.  Mine were pretty specific, but she hadn't heard me discuss them.  Her's were fairly general, but helped me understand where she was coming from.

Good luck, this was very difficult and frustrating for me too, but I believe DW will come around.  It would be great if you could get her to retire before you, because the second income / sole income is the really hard one, and you might set yourself up for hardship if you go first...

myDogIsFI

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #38 on: May 16, 2014, 12:04:17 PM »
Congrats on hitting your number, and good luck with this situation.  Good advice above.  Here are the few thoughts I had:

- I suggest putting your marriage first and commit 100% to working this out, one way or another.  I agree with the above suggestions for counseling, or whatever it is that you guys do to renew your relationship and keep it healthy.

- Give it time.  From the MMM article on selling the dream, "REALIZE THAT YOUR GOOD NEWS WILL INITIALLY FEEL LIKE A PUNCH IN THE FACE."  Of course that referred to selling frugality, but the message is the same - disconnecting from the system is tough.

- While waiting/selling the dream/working on the relationship, see about easing off the work treadmill.  Can you ask work go down to 4 days/week?  What are they going to do, fire you?  Or maybe start "consulting" and then slowly let that die. Or draw up a business plan for the online business you are going to start.

homeymomma

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #39 on: May 16, 2014, 12:11:01 PM »
Would you consider a totally out of the box compromise? Like, stay where you currently live, you transition down to a lower-stress job, maybe part time. Plan 2 or more vacations a year to lure her away from her job bit by bit?
The only thing that strikes me a really weird here is that she is insisting that you work, as well. That is very strange. That seems like you might need some counseling to move beyond. If you could retire, and she could continue to work, that sounds like everyone would win. But obviously she doesn't think so.

Good luck to you both. My husband is the child of two people who 1000% see their identity as their job- it's a tough nut to crack; neither of them are planning to retire, ever.

rujancified

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #40 on: May 16, 2014, 12:30:02 PM »
Really fascinating thread, DD. Intersection of money and emotion is always fascinating for me. Not sure I have any advice, but have some questions that are super intrusive and none of my business (so, you know, just think about them. Don't have to answer me).

-What does security look like to your wife? To you? Are they the same or different? Are they compatible, if different?
-Is this about the house or the neighborhood or some other material thing that she thinks continuing to work will give her/you both?
-Do you think, maybe, that she thought this was all a pipe dream? And now that it's realistic, she's realizing she's (a) not ready or that (b) doesn't want it? If it's A, you just need to be patient. If it's B? Yowza. What does she want?

Unlike many commenters, I'll side with your wife a teensy bit. She's being honest (if not rational) when she says that she wouldn't be happy with you retiring and her working. Sure, it's not a super mature response, but if it's what she's feeling it sounds like a fear/bias/unease that needs to be unpacked.

Echoing others that suggest counseling. Emotions are hard to parse and sometimes there simply isn't a binary answer. Good luck as you work through this.


CommonCents

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #41 on: May 16, 2014, 12:37:22 PM »
The only thing that strikes me a really weird here is that she is insisting that you work, as well. That is very strange.

Not really, it makes sense to me.
She's fearful of the future.
She believes she'd resent the OP if he retires, leaving her to shoulder the burden of financially preparing for their future while he lazes about.  (I'm projecting/guessing.)
Ergo, she demands he work too.

I'd probably suggest you talk to her about what point she would feel comfortable with you leaving your jobs, and why.

BFGirl

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #42 on: May 16, 2014, 01:20:39 PM »
Just my point of view, but you are approaching the age where some men (and women) go through a mid-life crisis.  I have seen marriages break up during this period because one spouse is looking for something new in their life.  This may be a fear for her.  I agree with the idea of counseling.

DoubleDown

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #43 on: May 16, 2014, 01:43:52 PM »
Dr. Doom, your situation with your wife is nearly identical to mine, almost to the letter. I discussed my situation to some degree in this thread:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/progress-and-'lessons-learned'-on-pending-fire/

While my wife did not express the "If you retire we're done" ultimatum, it would not have likely made a difference. I don't have any advice for you beyond what has already been given in this thread. I just wanted to let you know that ultimately I concluded:

1. I can't control another person's actions or views, I can only control my own.

2. I was unwilling to work until traditional retirement age in order to satisfy my wife's desire for social acceptance, unlimited spending money, and all the other crutches you've covered in your thread.

3. If my wife was willing to end our relationship or issue an ultimatum to end it, so be it. I would not want to remain in a relationship where my partner could not accept this fundamental life goal. I can appreciate different viewpoints and differing levels of comfort/risk, but not to the extent I'd have to forgo my goal to satisfy their need for what I see as being unreasonably risk-averse or need to satisfy ego. For example, if my wife insisted that to be safe we must have a < 1% SWR, or that we needed to have 2 vacation homes and a Lexus like our neighbors, I would not be willing to add 10+ years of working to achieve it.

So, despite my wife's reluctance, I did retire (at age 47), and it's gone mostly okay with us on that topic. She continues to work. It continues to be an occasional source of friction, but she's mostly accepted it. Her insecurity will raise its head sometimes, and she still feels like I've thrown away a great career that would provide us the ability to "spend like all our neighbors." I hope some of the suggestions in this thread help, but I found that none of those suggestions could fundamentally change my wife's views, and I had to decide what was important for me and follow it.

Hope it works out for you, best wishes.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2014, 01:45:29 PM »
When trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my FI life, I found the plan laid out by the Mad Fientist really interesting.  His wife wasn't necessarily on board in the beginning, but she wrote him a really beautiful piece describing how she came around to the idea of FIRE without compromising her desire to keep working:

http://www.madfientist.com/an-unexpected-guest-post/

My personal FI plan includes becoming a life-long-learner.  I want to take a lot of art courses and do things I missed out on when focusing on an engineering degree in college.  I also want the freedom to work less than 40 hours a week in engineering.  I don't plan to quit my job entirely in the short term, but gain confidence in taking risks or pay cuts to meet my career goals, not my employer's.  I also have some outlandish career goals that require developing extra skills on my own time, and I'd like to have real time during the week to do that.


I'm sorry that you are having relationship roughness over this issue.  I don't know your SO, but I can say that I have reacted wildly in similar circumstances.  When my boyfriend and I first discussed getting married or buying a house, I just thought "Nope, no way, I can't even think about this right now, please don't bring it up again."  I could see that my reaction really hurt his feelings and it made us very tense.  We were similar to your circumstance and I would not allow him to talk about it for very long because I would get upset.

I didn't know how to constructively say what I was really thinking which was, "Wow, I didn't think about that yet and you caught me off guard.  I'm really afraid of changing what we have now and I don't have any true opinions about those major life decisions that aren't based on fear."  What I needed in that moment was a) reassurance from him that he still wanted to be with me even though I wasn't instantly on board, and b) for him to know that I will think about it and form those true opinions if he promised to not bring it up again for a couple months. I needed time to think about why these things were so important to my SO and why he brought them up so much sooner than I was willing to address them.  I was honestly really scared that I was fucking up my relationship by being a roadblock to his goals and that made it even harder for me to admit that I didn't know a damn thing about what I wanted to do.

After mulling things over for several months without talking about it much to my SO, doing a little research into the issues and a lot of personal reflection, I was finally in a place where I could talk about it.  I tried mediating, writing in a journal, writing letters to my SO (which I never gave him) and talking to friends about it.  I tried to find both positive and negative motivations.  Only then did we have some productive conversations.  I needed my own time to play "catch-up" because he had caught me so off-guard.  It wasn't just about being scared of the future-- it was about being scared that I was already way behind because I wasn't even prepared to discuss it in the first place.  That's a very different kind of fear.

The above isn't really advice, but I hope maybe it can offer a different perspective since we all react to things differently.  Personally, I make my decisions when I can research and contemplate things alone and then come into a productive discussion feeling prepared.  I don't handle an ambushed, "We need to talk" kind of conversation well.  It can take months for me to reach the point of feeling prepared, but if I know I can trust my SO and that he will sit down and talk to me as soon as I say, "I'm ready to talk about it", it's what works best for me.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #45 on: May 16, 2014, 01:51:54 PM »
Really fascinating thread, DD. Intersection of money and emotion is always fascinating for me. Not sure I have any advice, but have some questions that are super intrusive and none of my business (so, you know, just think about them. Don't have to answer me).

Hey, where else to talk about this kind of stuff other than an anon board with avatar-cloaked strangers?  We're combining three things that are not PC to discuss:  money, communication issues, and complicated potential goal conflicts with a long-time partner. 

-What does security look like to your wife? To you? Are they the same or different? Are they compatible, if different?
-Is this about the house or the neighborhood or some other material thing that she thinks continuing to work will give her/you both?
-Do you think, maybe, that she thought this was all a pipe dream? And now that it's realistic, she's realizing she's (a) not ready or that (b) doesn't want it? If it's A, you just need to be patient. If it's B? Yowza. What does she want?

-Security is different for us.  I trust in math and history and the ability of people to consume our planet into a ball of landfill orbiting the sun, all while the markets march steadily (albeit unpredictably in the short-term) upward.  Security for her is a paycheck, employer-sponsored health care, and marching down a well-worn path. 
-I don't think it's the house.  She doesn't really want to deal with the practical aspects of moving, i.e. it's a major pain in the @$$ for two months but a) we don't have really strong ties to our neighborhood and b) if we move it'll likely be within walking distance of her sister's house and our nephews, which would actually be a nice happiness/lifestyle upgrade for her.  But I'm speculating just a bit here.
-I'd never considered the pipe dream part.  I do think that there is an element of "Holy Shit, we pulled this off?  Really?"  Because we don't know any other live human beings that have done it.  It doesn't really feel real some days.  I wonder if that is part of the issue for her.  For the most part, I've internalized that we've made it, we crossed the finish line a year ago, and I want to stop running.  Maybe she just needs more time to digest everything.  Maybe she doesn't really believe that we've made it, even though she tells me she agrees that numerically we are FI.

To be completely honest, I side with my wife some days too -- mostly when I have a ridiculously easy day at work.  But all it takes is a bad day or two at the office and all of the hateful residue that's been building up over my 15 years or so in the industry slips into my bloodstream and makes it boil, igniting an intense need to dump the job.  Even though it's a pretty good one, as far as they go, it's still 40+ hours a week and an awful lot of wasted energy.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #46 on: May 16, 2014, 02:09:38 PM »
When trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my FI life, I found the plan laid out by the Mad Fientist really interesting. 
http://www.madfientist.com/an-unexpected-guest-post/


Thanks for the thoughtful reply -- I know it takes a while to write these responses and I'm very glad to have folks help me work through this.

Incidentally, I read the perfect-life MadF post shortly before starting these discussions with my wife back in Nov 2013 and asked her what hers would be.  It's seven months later and she quite literally has no response.  She knows it's not her current life but won't take the next step toward imagining something different.  Or won't share with me what it is. 

I'm closer to you in terms of how I want to live out the rest of my life -- pursuing other interests, building skills, slowly expanding social circles.  Similar work issues to you -- it's very rare for me to work fewer than 40 hours a week with the commute factored in.  Usually by the end of the day, the best part of my energy is gone. 

I didn't know how to constructively say what I was really thinking which was, "Wow, I didn't think about that yet and you caught me off guard.  I'm really afraid of changing what we have now and I don't have any true opinions about those major life decisions that aren't based on fear."  What I needed in that moment was a) reassurance from him that he still wanted to be with me even though I wasn't instantly on board, and b) for him to know that I will think about it and form those true opinions if he promised to not bring it up again for a couple months. I needed time to think about why these things were so important to my SO and why he brought them up so much sooner than I was willing to address them.  I was honestly really scared that I was fucking up my relationship by being a roadblock to his goals and that made it even harder for me to admit that I didn't know a damn thing about what I wanted to do.

So, this might have been the second most helpful thing I've read today.  (number one was: sign-up-for-counseling-with-her-you-big-fat-doofus)
There's something about your post that has the ring of truth.  All of it, not just the quote above.  I think I can work harder on the reassurance bit.  I get really intense during these conversations and sometimes forget to be loving.  I don't raise my voice or anything but I'm probably too direct and factual instead of calm.  I need to channel The Dude from the Big Lebowski before we have another go at this.


Psychstache

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #47 on: May 16, 2014, 02:13:33 PM »
  I need to channel The Dude from the Big Lebowski before we have another go at this.

This tip really pulled the forum together, man.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #48 on: May 16, 2014, 02:18:33 PM »
  I need to channel The Dude from the Big Lebowski before we have another go at this.

This tip really pulled the forum together, man.

You're out of your element ksaleh! You have no frame of reference! You're like a child!

The dude abides, man. This aggression will not stand.

Rickk

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Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
« Reply #49 on: May 16, 2014, 02:33:32 PM »
My question to you is:  Are you sure there isn't some other really big issue you thought was resolved (or that you don't know about)???
I am not clear - are you married?  Does she want to be married?  Does she want kids?  Is there something else that is hanging around in her mind that she doesn't really want to talk about, but ER plans would make impossible?

If this is the case, then perhaps the financials are not really in order (like if she really wants kids), but she can't explain why they are not in order without really upsetting the apple cart . . .

Just my thoughts - feel free to ignore them if I am being an idiot . . . .