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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Dr. Doom on November 23, 2013, 12:24:38 PM

Title: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on November 23, 2013, 12:24:38 PM


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?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: footenote 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: BC_Goldman 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Villanelle 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?

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ShortInSeattle 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: StarryC 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?). 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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. 






Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ch12 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: impaire 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...")
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: footenote 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ch12 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: justchristine 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: historienne 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?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.




Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Elaine 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Tyler 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. 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: impaire 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...
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Villanelle 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. 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: lovesthesea 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.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: chasesfish 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?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: TrMama 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: adasafa 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!!!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 15, 2014, 09:01:14 PM
Edit:  Regretful airing of dirty laundry.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Emilyngh 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!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cressida on May 15, 2014, 09:15:09 PM
god. I'm really sorry. It does sound baffling. Best of luck.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: LAL 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.


Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Scandium 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?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.


Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.)


Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: CarDude 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ambimammular 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.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cheddar Stacker 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: lemonlime 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 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...
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: myDogIsFI 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: homeymomma 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: rujancified 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.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: CommonCents 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: BFGirl 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: DoubleDown 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Chranstronaut 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom 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.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Psychstache 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cheddar Stacker 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.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Rickk 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 . . . .
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 16, 2014, 02:38:52 PM
@DD, thanks for sharing the thread.  Yep, there are a lot of parallels.  High COL, want to downsize to allow for better breathing room and safety margins, burnt out on your industry, stayed a couple of years longer than necessary already, some issues with SO and her expectations of how the RE life is going to play out, some 'what will the neighbors' think type concerns. 

We've always been a tight knit team, the two of us, fighting against The Man and saving a lot of money while simultaneously accepting that the majority of our lives is spent doing Shit We Don't Want To Do.  We commiserate, tell war stories, support each other, and march onward through battle to death.

Single FIRE effectively breaks a partnership model that has worked for us over the last decade.  It's going to be a big change.  I'm sure some of the apprehension is around this.  She knows I'm insanely active and won't sit on my ass drinking Schlitz all day.  I'm like a small puppy -- I run around until I get tired, take a quick nap, and go at it again -- exercise, guitar, house cleaning, cooking, whatever.  But still, the fact remains that I won't be formally working in a job I hate like she is.  She appears to perceive this development as the beginnings of a wedge issue.

I just read RootOfGood's suggestion to discuss taking just a year off, so it doesn't seem like RE will be forever.  Maybe that will help. 

Big congrats on your retirement btw, DD!  Since it's been a few months, can you share how things are working out between you two?  Is she adjusting to your new life together?

For now I'm going to put on my Optimism Hat and assume that we'll get there too, and things will work out. 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 16, 2014, 02:46:07 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.

Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 16, 2014, 02:52:07 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 . . .

So, we're married without children.  There are medical issues which take that question off the table, for better or worse.  It's not a sensitive subject, so no worries, just want to get the facts out there.

As for the broader question, maybe...  Impossible to know really.  It could be that she secretly wants to save enough money so we can live in a Pemberley style estate and is just too embarrassed to tell me.  (That's Mr. Darcy's mansion in Pride and Prejudice, btw.  Crap, I think I'm risking having to change my handle now that I'm referencing Austen.  Would Dr. Doom ever read about the trials and tribulations of ladies seeking security through marriage? Hell no.)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Thegoblinchief on May 16, 2014, 08:31:26 PM
Really enjoy reading your blog, but didn't see this thread until now. Wow.

This isn't helpful at all, but damn we're married to exact opposites in this respect. My DW and I have been spending the past few days rejiggering and optimizing further, all with the goal for me to finally quit my POS job and go full-time SAHD. I need to spend more time with the numbers but we are close, even though it means adding a few years to the FIRE clock.

I can understand the insecurity aspect (sort of, I'm too analytical to not believe the math, doubly so my wife, since process improvement is her job) but the quasi-vindictive revenge/commiseration angle is just bizarre. As if you can't be a great, nay better, sounding board when you're not tired and stressed yourself?

Good luck, but take care of YOU.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ch12 on May 16, 2014, 08:36:25 PM
The salesperson in me feels that you haven't teased out her real objection yet... And the Oprah in me is a little concerned that she's brought up the end of your relationship a couple times now...

+1

but also, Neil Strauss taught me that people throw out ultimatums when they feel powerless. Life has taught me that his observation is true. Try to figure out what would make her feel like she has some measure of control on this situation.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: deborah on May 16, 2014, 09:37:42 PM
If there is a problem believing it is true, I wonder whether it would be worth you (as a couple) meeting some people who are FI already - just to have living breathing humans in front of you who can say - yes this is us - we did it. It is a pity you are not going to the Ecuador thing. I don't know if there are any in your area (as I'm in Australia, I'm sure that rules me out!). Meeting others could also give both of you some map about what the future could hold.

How do you as a couple usually work through difficult things? What are you (yourself) doing differently this time (maybe going too hard- it's hard not to when it is so important) that could be making it more difficult? What could you do now that has worked in the past in similar situations? You've probably asked yourself all these questions already - sorry to hassle you.

My brother retired at about 40, and my mother is always saying that he is a bad example to his children (especially as he has too much money and is spending it on them too unwisely - in her view), so your wife possibly has people around her or in her past who have been as negative about early retirements as my mother.

Have you mapped out in detail what you would like to do - and how she would fit in that dream? Is going part time do-able for at least part of your plan? Are you prepared to change that plan to include the things she wants to do?

My partner retired before I did. We didn't talk about the timing, but I figured that he was older and had worked longer than me, so it was fair for him to retire first. I regret a bit that I didn't retire when he did - although working an extra year certainly was beneficial in the long term financially. By the time I retired he had got used to having the house to himself during the day, and I had to work around it. He had habits and routines, which might have been different if we had both retired together. We had said that we would visit places together when we retired. That hasn't happened - once he retired he became an official in the regional overarching body for his sport, and travels to meetings twice a month. His mother and my parents are also getting frail, so we each travel separately quite often.

But, these are minor things. We are very happy - as happy as we have ever been. It could have been much worse if I had been forced to retire when he did. Maybe we wouldn't still be together. At that time I didn't know what I wanted to do in retirement. After he retired, I read a lot of books about retirement, and worked on my plans.

While I was unhappy at work, I didn't really know what to do. And there really aren't many books on the subject - they usually start and end with the financial side of retirement (which is probably much easier). Maybe your library has something useful. Certainly, the most useful I found was http://www.amazon.com/Color-Parachute-Retirement-Second-Edition/dp/158008205X
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: horsepoor on May 16, 2014, 11:22:30 PM
Wow - a very real "misery loves company" situation.  I think it was mentioned back when you started this thread, but is there some sort of middle ground you could seek?  She apparently admits herself that her job makes her miserable, but yet, she relies on it for identity and status.  Could the soft sell be more "hey, we have as big of a stash as we need; we don't need to worry about that any more, so you could take any sort of job that would be fulfilling to your needs, but lower in stress so you come home happier at the end of the day.  The pay is no longer a concern!"  Perhaps you could then go part time for a little bit, and commit to handling every aspect of the move (not clear on if she could continue to work once the move happens?).  It doesn't seem like it has to be an all or nothing deal.  I do hope you can work it out though.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: TomTX on May 17, 2014, 06:02:20 AM
Perhaps simplifying the explanation would help.

"Honey,  you need to know that we have "Fuck You" money* saved at this point."

"What?" or "Huh?"

"We have enough money saved that anytime you get too stressed out with your boss, you can say 'Fuck You!' and walk out the door. Neither of us has to work anymore."

(pause/discussion)

"It's not Ferrari and yacht money, but we can move over to your sister's neighborhood anytime. Spend more time with the kids."

(pause/discussion)

"If you really don't like it after awhile, we could start working again somewhere better. Or take classes at (Local college) for awhile. Whatever. We have time and flexibility"
 


*Okay, some will argue about using the term this way, but it has more emotional impact than "Financial Independence/Retire Early" - FIRE will put an emotional spouse to sleep or shut down. "Fuck You Money" has more impact.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ender on May 17, 2014, 07:44:41 AM
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. 

One way around this is to get up early and do "your stuff" before work ;)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 17, 2014, 12:36:43 PM
This may be a silly question, but . . .  .

Why are you still in your big expensive house, when you have no children to occupy the extra space, and you are planning a move to an area she would presumably prefer to be in (close to her sister)?  Why not do the move first?  It is something you are both planning to do anyway.

Advantages - you get the trauma of selling the present house and buying the new house over with.
  You get the advantage of reduced costs up front, and then can see the financial advantages re retirement planning.
  She gets to spend more time with her sister and sister's kids.
  She can start integrating into the new neighbourhood.
  She might start seeing activities she would like to be more involved in if she had more spare time.
  Gardening season is here, time to enjoy the new garden (if she likes gardening) or find a house with low-maintenance gardens (if she doesn't).

Disadvantages   ????

And as I am an older woman whose kid is grown up and gone (so functionally childless) and I have been retired for less than a year, you can pass on from me that there is lots to do when you no longer work.  And with her work history, there will be all sorts of people and organizations that will want to take advantage of her work skills in volunteer positions.  That has definitely happened to me.  She can imagine herself as a character in a Jane Austen novel, they did not have to work, they had income (think of "the funds"). 

Plus all the things she put on hold because she was too busy or too tired can now be done - I am busier now than when I worked, but all the busy things are things I *want* to do.  My friends and I all laugh at my angst of last year, I was so traumatized when I knew it was my last year at work.  I thought I would be so bored in the winter (summer is gardening, no problem) but I was so busy that I have projects needing me to find time to finish.  At this point I have told myself I have to say "no" to anything more.

I know Americans get ridiculous (= pathetic) holiday time and don't even take what they get, but can the two of you take a decent chunk of vacation together and just stay home and enjoy begin together with no work responsibilities for a few weeks?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 17, 2014, 01:00:48 PM
This may be a silly question, but . . .  .

Why are you still in your big expensive house,...

Yeah.  I deleted a very long post on Thursday the 15th which detailed blow-by-blow an argument that we had.  (I decided that the construction of it was too emotional and way way oversharing -- bold statements considering some of what I've written already in this thread.)

I'm comfortable sharing the skeletal details, though, and it's worthwhile for me to do it here.

The subject of the argument?  Accelerating the move.  For most of the reasons you mentioned, all of which are great.  I very much want to reduce expenses, she would like to spend more time with her sister, we both would like to spend more time with our nephews.  I don't see any downside to taking action on this immediately.

As an added bonus, the market is hot right now.  We could sell this place in a week.

The problem is that talking about moving triggered a discussion about RE because I mentioned that if we moved, I'd stop working.  (I would then be 40 miles away from work, and there's simply no way I'm doing that for even a single week..  Blah.)

So we have to resolve this issue prior to any move.  Unless I want to lie to her and say we can move and I'll keep working.  Then quit after we move.

(Ahhh, lies.  The foundation of every healthy relationship.  I'm kidding here.  I think.)

Right, she loves the Austen novels and movie adaptations. Sometimes she mentions wistfully that the girls basically have it made.  Especially post-Darcy Elizabeth.  It'd be a fun analogy to draw with her, that she can live off pounds per annum... On a related note, don't know if you watch Downton but Maggie Smith's character, Lady Grantham, at one point asks "What is a week-end?"  Because of course she has no concept of the 5-day workweek, being that she's an utterly loaded woman of wealth and privilege.  My SO could be asking the same question in a year or less.  I can't imagine she'd dislike that.

I'll share some of your story with her, and I'm glad that you're enjoying your own adventures in post-office-life.



Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 17, 2014, 01:45:37 PM
Seriously, I have to keep track of the days of the week - weekends are irrelevant, just two more days of the week which may or may not have activities scheduled.  Since I don't have to do errands on my days off, I can now avoid the busy times.

I dumped my cable last September, I was way to busy to watch TV, and never got it back, so I don't watch Downtown Abbey.  Please tell her that if it would help  ;-)

And now I understand the lack of move - but  I commuted 120 km each way (that is 75 miles, I'm glad I never calculated it before this)(up from 100) my last three years, into a city, so it is doable.  Especially if you could switch to part-time and avoid rush hour.  And it would show commitment on your part, you are willing to commute for a while so the move can happen. How would it affect her commute?

Other benefits - mornings are relaxed, I go to bed when I want to (might be 9:30, might be midnight), I am learning a new musical instrument, I do more volunteer activities so am definitely contributing to society, I am using my education and experience, just in different ways now.  Volunteers in a community used to be stay-at-home moms, now they are mostly retired people.  I know many who retired in their 50's, so it is not all a 65 and over crowd.

Good luck.  I don't know anyone who has been retired a while who doesn't love it.  But you have to be ready to get out and do things.  Those who are self-starters seem to do best.  My FIL sat and watched TV almost all day almost every day once he retired, that is not a life.

Actually, a lot of the people I do things with during the day are self-employed or are farmers.  Is there any sort of part-time business she would like to start up?  If you have the money to be retired, you have the money to support her in a start-up as long as the starting costs are not exorbitant.  It would also give focus to what you wanted in the new house, would she need a home office or work area?


don't know if you watch Downton but Maggie Smith's character, Lady Grantham, at one point asks "What is a week-end?"  Because of course she has no concept of the 5-day workweek, being that she's an utterly loaded woman of wealth and privilege.  My SO could be asking the same question in a year or less.  I can't imagine she'd dislike that.

I'll share some of your story with her, and I'm glad that you're enjoying your own adventures in post-office-life.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 17, 2014, 01:51:26 PM
Reframe things, she would not be retired, she would be a woman of independent means. 

And what are the things you would be doing together that you can't do now?  Carrot, not stick.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Daisy on May 17, 2014, 03:36:38 PM
I guess there are benefits to being single and making your own decisions in respect to FIRE.

Many times I have wondered if I would have gotten to FIRE quicker if I had a husband to help share the costs and bring in more income. But I see that being married brings a different set of concerns that I hadn't thought about. I'd have to convince my SO. I guess I always assumed the SO would be onboard...who wouldn't want to RE?

I would be doing flips if my (fictional) husband came and told me we had enough money to FIRE and I wouldn't have to go through the daily grind any more. Sigh...

Maybe it's an age-related thing? I can't remember what your ages were. I didn't have any firm plans to FIRE in my 30s. The daily grind just gets to you after more years.

Oh well, back to my soon approaching OMY situation...
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 18, 2014, 10:20:51 AM
Rereading this, it seems that the issues are goals and communication, not FIRE.

At times there is a "my way or the highway" tone coming through, not sure if this is something she is perceiving or just an artifact of your communication style.  For example, you say the move would mean a 40 mile one way commute for you, that you are totally unwilling to even contemplate doing, but nothing about how it would affect her commute, or what her commute is like now.  I've done longer commutes for less positive reasons, so this does sound fairly arbitrary without more background as to why it is so totally impossible.

If I were hearing my husband say his imminent retirement is more important than the things that matter in my life (i.e. we are not really much of a team in life), I would be keeping my job so I had it when the divorce hit me.  I hope this is not the case.

Another possibility might be that she has personal/social reasons to keep this job.  Was it something she had to do a lot of education/training for that she might think is being wasted?  Is it something that she had to prove to herself she could do?  Was it something she achieved against opposition (family or society)?  These could all be reasons that she is reluctant to stop even though she is not happy at work.  Or maybe, even though there are parts that are draining, there are also aspects that she finds very rewarding. 

You two need to really open up the avenues of communication, maybe see a counselor so this can all be discussed with a third party present who can keep the conversation on track, and emotionally safe for her, and figure what barriers are holding her back from what she was originally happy to consider.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Zikoris on May 18, 2014, 10:30:22 AM
Rereading this, it seems that the issues are goals and communication, not FIRE.

At times there is a "my way or the highway" tone coming through, not sure if this is something she is perceiving or just an artifact of your communication style.  For example, you say the move would mean a 40 mile one way commute for you, that you are totally unwilling to even contemplate doing, but nothing about how it would affect her commute, or what her commute is like now.  I've done longer commutes for less positive reasons, so this does sound fairly arbitrary without more background as to why it is so totally impossible.

If I were hearing my husband say his imminent retirement is more important than the things that matter in my life (i.e. we are not really much of a team in life), I would be keeping my job so I had it when the divorce hit me.  I hope this is not the case.

Another possibility might be that she has personal/social reasons to keep this job.  Was it something she had to do a lot of education/training for that she might think is being wasted?  Is it something that she had to prove to herself she could do?  Was it something she achieved against opposition (family or society)?  These could all be reasons that she is reluctant to stop even though she is not happy at work.  Or maybe, even though there are parts that are draining, there are also aspects that she finds very rewarding. 

You two need to really open up the avenues of communication, maybe see a counselor so this can all be discussed with a third party present who can keep the conversation on track, and emotionally safe for her, and figure what barriers are holding her back from what she was originally happy to consider.

I think you're overlooking the big problem here - she's trying to prevent HIM from retiring. He's said multiple times he has no issue with her continuing to work if that's what she wants, he just doesn't want to do it himself. Why on earth would he want to commute 40 miles each way every day when he has easily enough money not to?

For the life of me, I can't imagine being with someone who actively wanted me to be miserable, and laid down an ultimatum that unless I stayed miserable our relationship was over. What the heck kind of person does that to someone they supposedly love?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 18, 2014, 01:03:41 PM
@Zikoris
From original post:
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.


So I guess what we are all wondering is: what is the dynamic here?

a.  if she doesn't like her job, and they have the money to retire, why is she not keen?  Does she like her job (just complains about it) or have points to prove in it, or does she not believe they have enough money?

b. Makes perfect sense to me, if one is retired, nice if the other is retired, they can do things together.  But deborah and her husband took a different route.  And ch12 pointed out that people throw out ultimatums when they feel powerless - so what is she feeling about all this?   


So, they need to figure out what the issues are - it is not about money, it is about a bunch of other things, which is why I think all we can do here is tell them to figure out what is going on.  That means OP needs a bunch of discussions with her, we are a money forum.


And there are always two sides to a story, we have only heard his view of their situation, so we can only make suggestions based on what he has presented.  At this point we don't know what she thinks about the whole thing.  I would love to sit down with her with a cup of tea and talk about it (and the joys of retirement), but that's not happening.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on May 18, 2014, 01:11:08 PM
At times there is a "my way or the highway" tone coming through, not sure if this is something she is perceiving or just an artifact of your communication style.  For example, you say the move would mean a 40 mile one way commute for you, that you are totally unwilling to even contemplate doing, but nothing about how it would affect her commute, or what her commute is like now

You're right.  I didn't mention this.  Her commute would remain roughly the same -- we looked it up together and found it'd be within 5 minutes of the current duration, give or take.  She currently takes commuter rail into the office.  After the move, she'd simply be taking a different train to the same place.

@Daisy, we're both 37 years old if that helps.

Listen, lots of people are wondering what's really happening here, and I unfortunately can't answer most of the questions because we have obvious communication issues on the subject -- she won't share exactly what she's thinking and refuses to discuss making changes to our current life paradigm.  Maybe this is due to my tone or approach, and maybe it's not.  Maybe she's dating the gas station attendant and doesn't want to be apart from him.  Who knows?  This is why ultimately we're going to need counseling to work through this.  I think for the time being we've reached the end of healthy and productive speculation, IMO, and I don't want to tread further into tabloid territory.

At any rate, I'm going to let this thread go to sleep for a while.  I'll try for an update in a few months and hopefully there will be good things to report.

On a more positive note, thanks again to everyone who provided thoughts and feedback -- it's been very helpful to read through peoples' take on the situation and I'll be following many of the suggestions.  I'm sure we'll come out of this together better than ever.




Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: DoubleDown on May 18, 2014, 01:28:37 PM
I just read RootOfGood's suggestion to discuss taking just a year off, so it doesn't seem like RE will be forever.  Maybe that will help. 

Big congrats on your retirement btw, DD!  Since it's been a few months, can you share how things are working out between you two?  Is she adjusting to your new life together?

For now I'm going to put on my Optimism Hat and assume that we'll get there too, and things will work out.

Yeah, I did the same thing with taking a year off (fortunately my work allows that). Although I consider my retirement to be likely permanent, it was a fail-safe in case I changed my mind or if we had a repeat of 2008/09 and the markets tanking. I'm not sure it made it any easier for my wife to accept -- jury's still out on that I guess.

I'd say after about 7 months, my wife now is no more nor no less apprehensive about my retirement. She's just really risk-averse, and does not understand or accept the whole notion of FI (despite 1000 explanations). She'll always throw up some bogeyman argument about how uncertain the future is and all the things that could go wrong -- or how we could have so much "more" if I kept working. Explanations of "but I don't need or want more" do not make an impression.

I like your optimistic approach. And I know a lot of people in this thread are saying "there must be something else at the root of this, it's not just about the money (or whatever)." But I'll be contrary, based on my own experience: I don't think there's necessarily anything else underlying. Some people just are not on board with the notion of FIRE, for whatever reason, and there will be no convincing them. They either accept it, or they don't.

So, I don't mean this as a downer, because I think it's empowering to exert control over the things you can: But honestly, I think you might find that you just have to make a decision on what is most important to you: FIREing without her joining you in it, or continuing to work to satisfy her needs. Sometimes people are hung up on things that are irrational (to us, at least). But once you've been over and over all the concerns, you're just left with two people who disagree, and you can then only make a choice for what is most meaningful for you.

I could think of 1000 things I might not be able to convince a spouse over, such as having or not having kids; living a frugal life frugal or not; whether or not the death penalty is just; voting Republican or Democrat; and so on. Some of those things we might just accept differences of opinion (like voting), and our relationship can continue on relatively harmoniously despite the differences. But some, like having children, are deal-breakers. You can't make the other person have kids (at least not ethically, like tricking them by not using birth control). In those cases, you can only decide which is more important: staying with the person you are with, or choosing to find a relationship with someone else who can honor your goal of having kids.

In my case, we reached an agreement that I would FIRE, and she would continue to work as her preference. So thankfully it did not come down to "it's me or FIRE, take your pick." But if it had, I probably would have concluded that I could not stay with someone who would force me to work another decade just to satisfy their need for more stuff/status/whatever. I would have resented it too much. So, I would have FIREd anyhow, and if they chose to leave me over it, so be it.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Daisy on May 18, 2014, 02:22:02 PM
Dr. Doom - best of luck on your plans. I do hope that you take your wife's concerns into account before you make a drastic change - for the sake of your marriage. Assuming no other strange thing is happening, counseling may help. Maybe discussing with her a time frame when she thinks you could try a little time off will help.

I mentioned the age thing because I just didn't have exact plans to FIRE in my 30s. I actually wasn't financially ready for FIRE, but to be honest I may not have been emotionally ready either. It just wasn't on my radar. Depending on your career situation, it may not be desirable. I was happy and fulfilled at work in my 30s and felt a lot of respect and comraderie at my job, even though I am sure there were aspects of it at the time that I complained about. Plus, no one around me was ER-ing so it could be a bit isolating to pursue this life.

I always saved money and knew that at some point in the future (my 50s), I'd want to have enough money to do something different. It wasn't until I switched into a soul-sucking job at about the age of 40 that the spreadsheets started to kick into high gear. I knew I needed a way out.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: waltworks on May 18, 2014, 03:28:15 PM
Just an idea, but is there a hobby/activity that you could do as a "job" part time that would make your SO feel less upset about your "retirement"? Something that will get you out the door at the same time, give you a few co-workers or co-volunteers to bitch about occasionally, some social contacts with people you wouldn't otherwise meet, the occasional deadline to meet to keep you on your toes - ie, all the benefits of a job, without the downsides of worrying about how much money you make or what the boss thinks of you?

I guess that sort of legerdemain is a bit underhanded but if she really wants to keep working, and can't stand the thought of YOU not working... I don't see any other way you can pull it off.

That, or suggest some kind of crazy round the world trip. Or a fake kidnapping ala Larry Burns!

Seriously, this is the struggle I think a lot of people will face eventually, whether it's a partner than can't imagine a life beyond work or themselves. Good luck.

-W
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: NewStachian on May 19, 2014, 06:46:30 AM
Maybe you don't need to "retire" but need to "change careers". Either take all the stuff you have lined up, like you mentioned, and phrase that as a new career you're pursuing (for free), or downshift to a part-time job for very little pay in the area you're looking to focus in your retirement. Maybe the slow transition will make it easier and you can pitch it as a happy medium?

That's at least how I'd approach it. I'd still highly recommend the counseling route if she's on board with it.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: deborah on May 19, 2014, 02:26:16 PM
You may need to pick your counselor well. I haven't been counseled about this but I would think that many would view you wanting to retire as being non-supportive etc. That might make things worse.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: LadyStache on May 19, 2014, 06:44:46 PM
You may need to pick your counselor well. I haven't been counseled about this but I would think that many would view you wanting to retire as being non-supportive etc. That might make things worse.

I think she's the one who's actually not being supportive here. He said she can retire or continue working when he retires; she's the one demanding that he continue working even though he has no need/desire to do so. Counseling seems like a great idea to me.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: ch12 on May 19, 2014, 10:00:49 PM
You may need to pick your counselor well. I haven't been counseled about this but I would think that many would view you wanting to retire as being non-supportive etc. That might make things worse.

I think she's the one who's actually not being supportive here. He said she can retire or continue working when he retires; she's the one demanding that he continue working even though he has no need/desire to do so. Counseling seems like a great idea to me.

From the one side that we're seeing here, it looks like your wife is being totally unreasonable. We all want you to settle this with your wife, and the best way to do that is to get a third party.

I don't care about who is considered "supportive", everyone. I just want him to talk it out and come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: deborah on May 20, 2014, 04:18:31 AM
My brother had a counseller who had so much baggage she didn't consider his point of view at all. As FI is somewhat unusual, a counseller with this sort of baggage may be worse than none.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: NeverWasACornflakeGirl on May 20, 2014, 07:11:24 AM

I like your optimistic approach. And I know a lot of people in this thread are saying "there must be something else at the root of this, it's not just about the money (or whatever)." But I'll be contrary, based on my own experience: I don't think there's necessarily anything else underlying. Some people just are not on board with the notion of FIRE, for whatever reason, and there will be no convincing them. They either accept it, or they don't.

Quote
In my case, we reached an agreement that I would FIRE, and she would continue to work as her preference. So thankfully it did not come down to "it's me or FIRE, take your pick." But if it had, I probably would have concluded that I could not stay with someone who would force me to work another decade just to satisfy their need for more stuff/status/whatever. I would have resented it too much. So, I would have FIREd anyhow, and if they chose to leave me over it, so be it.

Good luck!

I just wanted to chime in with agreement that there doesn't have to be some other motive. 

DD, I had this same problem with my spouse.  I was dying to leave work, and she just didn't believe in it, even though she's as frugal as I am.  She just thinks that if you're able to work, you should be working.  She also said the same thing your DW said, which is that she didn't want to quit working, but she would be jealous if I did.  Feeling trapped and powerless, I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: DoubleDown on May 20, 2014, 09:30:04 AM
I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)

That's excellent, and congratulations on your very fast-approaching retirement! And that's quite a change, separating finances after 22 years -- it's great you were able to find something that works for you both. I came into this marriage with separate finances (both previously married with kids and our own established finances), so that hasn't been an issue for us. I think my wife is like your spouse, she thinks that people (especially men) should go to a 9-5 job until some arbitrary time when they're old.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cressida on May 20, 2014, 10:10:17 PM
I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)

That's excellent, and congratulations on your very fast-approaching retirement! And that's quite a change, separating finances after 22 years -- it's great you were able to find something that works for you both. I came into this marriage with separate finances (both previously married with kids and our own established finances), so that hasn't been an issue for us. I think my wife is like your spouse, she thinks that people (especially men) should go to a 9-5 job until some arbitrary time when they're old.

Gah, I hate stuff like this. Why should men be expected to work any longer than women? If everyone's contributing equally to the household then there should be no gender distinctions. (I'm female.)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Villanelle on May 21, 2014, 07:56:30 AM
Could you look for a Meetup (or similar) group in your area for early retirees?  If she'd be willing to attend that (perhaps with a promise from you that it would not come with any pressure at all from you and that there would be no FIRE discussion at all afterwords, unless she initiated it), she might b able to see that this is actually something that plenty of people do, and they they continue to have full, vibrant lives after quitting their paying jobs.  I doubt this would be a total solution to your issue, but it might help her to see and associate with people who are FIREd, to see that they aren't unicorns or lazy slobs.

It does seem like there's lots of fear.  Seeing numbers on a page is one thing and only addresses the strictly financial piece.  Far is often calmed when we can see the realities of that of which we are afraid.  Even finding a MMM couple in your area to meet for dinner might be eye opening for her.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: hs on May 25, 2014, 08:36:32 PM
My husband was very upfront with saying that he doesn't ever want to retire. As he sees it, he is just getting to the point where he can make a difference in the world. I told him that I was very happy for him to keep working as long as work fulfilled him. I just didn't want him to feel stuck in a job where he is overworked in terms of hours and underutilized in terms of skill set. Some of his role models kept working until their eighties, because they were brilliant and making real change. We are a long ways from FIRE, but when we sat down and looked at our finances, we had about 18 months of living expenses. That is FU money, still. My husband has a few projects with university professors that he'd really like to work on more, but which pay about zip. Who do you want to work for, the guy who has made world-changing breakthroughs or the guy you call "the scum of the earth"? Having even a mini mustache can give you a lot if FU freedom.
In terms of location to move to, hire out the time and trouble of the move.  I refused to move right after we married because I was dealing with impending business disaster (it looks now like we'll be okay) and working 60 hours per week. I just couldn't take the upheaval. My husband moved in with me in what was previously my apartment. He then organized pickup of assorted junk and I only dealt with it for about 5 hours over 2 days. Let me suggest that you book a nice hotel room for both of you, and arrange for movers/junk removal/take a day off to box things yourself/move the glass yourself.
When moving, what about experimenting with location? You could always rent for a year. I would look at 3 factors: ease of commute to her work, proximity to her sister, and proximity to fun things in town. I personally pay more per square foot to live in walking distance to lots of fun things to do. My commute is 30 minutes, each way, and it sucks, but it would be much worse if I didn't have a reverse commute.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: urbanista on May 25, 2014, 11:16:37 PM
I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)

That's excellent, and congratulations on your very fast-approaching retirement! And that's quite a change, separating finances after 22 years -- it's great you were able to find something that works for you both. I came into this marriage with separate finances (both previously married with kids and our own established finances), so that hasn't been an issue for us. I think my wife is like your spouse, she thinks that people (especially men) should go to a 9-5 job until some arbitrary time when they're old.

Gah, I hate stuff like this. Why should men be expected to work any longer than women? If everyone's contributing equally to the household then there should be no gender distinctions. (I'm female.)

The big "IF": if everyone's contributing equally to the household. That's often not the case. Women still do the bulk of housework/chores/looking after children even when both spouses work, on average[/t]
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: urbanista on May 25, 2014, 11:26:51 PM
I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)

That's excellent, and congratulations on your very fast-approaching retirement! And that's quite a change, separating finances after 22 years -- it's great you were able to find something that works for you both. I came into this marriage with separate finances (both previously married with kids and our own established finances), so that hasn't been an issue for us. I think my wife is like your spouse, she thinks that people (especially men) should go to a 9-5 job until some arbitrary time when they're old.

This is the first time you mention kids from previous marriages. What are the age of the kids?  Totally speculating here, but it may explain a lot. When I imagine myself in your wife's shoes, I can easily see why I wouldn't want you to retire while I still work. Because there is a risk that you may run out of money, and then I would have to support not only you but also your kid(s). I don't mind supporting my husband in case he FIREd and then run out of money after some years, but I definitely wouldn't want to support his kids from the previous marriage in this situation.

It may also explain why your wife doesn't want to talk about it. This is not something you can easily admit without the risk of compromising the relationship.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cressida on May 25, 2014, 11:37:10 PM
I finally made an ultimatim of my own:  I think we should separate our finances (we've been together and had our finances combined for 22 years) since we seem to have different goals.  The result was almost instantaneous.  That was a couple of months ago, and my last day of work will be June 2.  I don't know what the "key" will be for your wife, but I did want to tell you that there is hope.  :-)

That's excellent, and congratulations on your very fast-approaching retirement! And that's quite a change, separating finances after 22 years -- it's great you were able to find something that works for you both. I came into this marriage with separate finances (both previously married with kids and our own established finances), so that hasn't been an issue for us. I think my wife is like your spouse, she thinks that people (especially men) should go to a 9-5 job until some arbitrary time when they're old.

Gah, I hate stuff like this. Why should men be expected to work any longer than women? If everyone's contributing equally to the household then there should be no gender distinctions. (I'm female.)

The big "IF": if everyone's contributing equally to the household. That's often not the case. Women still do the bulk of housework/chores/looking after children even when both spouses work, on average[/t]

Oh, so true. (Yes, "on average," I know.) I do stand behind my statement, but of course it's too often true that we retreat to traditional gender roles and said statement then doesn't apply. I believe that if we didn't have traditional gender roles, all of these spousal arguments would become somewhat less fraught. Too bad we're nowhere near there.

I feel strongly about this issue so I was compelled to respond, but I do recognize that it's not totally relevant to the OP, so apologies for the slight derailment.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: TomTX on May 26, 2014, 08:23:51 AM

The big "IF": if everyone's contributing equally to the household. That's often not the case. Women still do the bulk of housework/chores/looking after children even when both spouses work, on average[/t]

If I recall the corollary study - the men who did more housework ended up with less sexy time with the wife.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Daleth on May 26, 2014, 08:52:00 AM

The big "IF": if everyone's contributing equally to the household. That's often not the case. Women still do the bulk of housework/chores/looking after children even when both spouses work, on average[/t]

If I recall the corollary study - the men who did more housework ended up with less sexy time with the wife.

I highly doubt that... are you familiar with this line of calendars: http://www.amazon.com/Women-Cambridge-Womens-Pornography-Cooperative/dp/0811855511

:)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: iris lily on May 26, 2014, 09:00:36 AM
OP, this is one of the best thread on the MMM site. I LOVE these repeated Austen references, living on "funds per annum" indeed! And you are right that the aristocracy always considered "the weekend" vulgar because who among the privileged had to concern themselves with that? On Sunday you went to church, otherwise, the days blended.


I think your insight into your wife's head is pretty damned interesting, good for you. This is a brilliant summary:

We've always been a tight knit team, the two of us, fighting against The Man and saving a lot of money while simultaneously accepting that the majority of our lives is spent doing Shit We Don't Want To Do.  We commiserate, tell war stories, support each other, and march onward through battle to death.

Single FIRE effectively breaks a partnership model that has worked for us over the last decade.  It's going to be a big change.  I'm sure some of the apprehension is around this.  She knows I'm insanely active and won't sit on my ass drinking Schlitz all day.  I'm like a small puppy -- I run around until I get tired, take a quick nap, and go at it again -- exercise, guitar, house cleaning, cooking, whatever.  But still, the fact remains that I won't be formally working in a job I hate like she is.  She appears to perceive this development as the beginnings of a wedge issue.


I wish you well in getting over this impasse.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: iris lily on May 26, 2014, 09:10:30 AM

This is the first time you mention kids from previous marriages. ...
It may also explain why your wife doesn't want to talk about it. This is not something you can easily admit without the risk of compromising the relationship.

Thud.

yep, this is new information. OP, you BOTH have children? What?

When you said that you didn't have children, I truly thought "the guy doesn't have children."
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: tmac on May 26, 2014, 10:01:24 AM

This is the first time you mention kids from previous marriages. ...
It may also explain why your wife doesn't want to talk about it. This is not something you can easily admit without the risk of compromising the relationship.

Thud.

yep, this is new information. OP, you BOTH have children? What?

When you said that you didn't have children, I truly thought "the guy doesn't have children."

Hold the phone.

Different poster. OP is Dr. Doom, not DoubleDown.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: iris lily on May 26, 2014, 03:26:16 PM


Hold the phone.

Different poster. OP is Dr. Doom, not DoubleDown.
a-ha! thanks for this.

Back to our regularly scheduled thread...
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 20, 2014, 08:47:53 AM

It's been three months since I've posted on this and I wanted to share an update.

When I last left the thread, I'd mentioned the plan was to try counseling in an attempt to improve our communication overall.  The idea was that if we're communicating better, we can talk about FIRE more openly and without meltdowns.

Toward the end of May I suggested counseling and she was extremely resistant to it.  She wanted to know the underlying reason I thought we had communication issues.  I admitted that it was due to our struggles discussing "the early retirement thing."   She asked if I thought our communication was okay in other areas, and I said, with honesty, yes.

To sidestep the counseling request, she agreed to talk to me about FIRE once a week for half an hour, Sunday after dinner, as if we had an appointment with someone. 

Our sessions have been pretty good.  We've talked over a whole range of topics at this point including some rehash of finances and the driver behind FIRE and what I'm planning on doing with my time and health care and why I would ideally like to do it together rather than just me ditching work while she's still grinding.
Also I’ve uncovered at least two of the reasons why she’d been so reluctant to FIRE with me.

1)   We both grew up on the poor side of things but I grew up “US” poor and she grew up “Portuguese Village” poor.  There’s an underlying difference in hardship.  I went through social struggles related to wearing hand-me-downs at school and using meal-tickets to get lunches.  But she went through physical struggles:  really cold nights with no heat, days when there wasn’t enough to eat.  Part of her simply fears being poor again.  Working and pulling a good income is a way for her to combat the internal voices which sometimes suggest that not working could result in a return to those conditions.  See?  I’m not poor!  I’m earning all of this money and saving it! I’ll never be uncomfortable again!  And the voice shuts the hell up.

Going over the finances a few more times has helped her to feel more comfortable on this end of things.  We've oversaved by quite a bit, will be drawing 3%ish off annually with a paid-off hosue, and have decent buffers built into the plan.

2)   She’s a really loyal person.  In her current role, she hasn’t had a backup in years and worried about the company’s ability to survive without her.  In other words, anytime she thought about leaving she felt really guilty.  This has also been at least partially fixed – they hired someone in June to shadow her and the cross-training is going well.

But the real breakthrough came last weekend because she had to work a whole lot of hours unexpectedly to oversee troubleshooting efforts on a whole bunch of technical issues for her company.   We had to skip an anticipated visit with our nephews because of this. Also, it’s the third weekend in a row that this has happened.  She’s starting to believe that unexpected work of this kind is the 'new normal' for her role.

A bit of explanation is probably required here:  In June she was promoted at work.
I told her she probably didn't want to be promoted, for all of the reasons you would expect I might advise against it (a disproportionate rise in responsibility and hours as compared to the increase in compensation, less technical work and more idiotic politics, have to be more careful what you say in the office, etc -- the list goes on and on) but she took it anyway.

And she's unfortunately really unhappy in her role.  She asked to be demoted last week and her request was denied.  Her hours have shot up.  Expectations have risen. So she suddenly really wants out.   

I also asked her to read my blog, where I'm documenting the details of my 14+ history of employment, and she's no longer wondering why I don't want to work anymore.  She said the posts clear things up in a way that just casually griping about work in the evenings has failed to do so, because they cover so much ground and much of the content is all too true and, despite my feeble attempts at humor, kind of depressing.

At any rate, yesterday she comes home from work with the news that that her bonus is dispersed in March (as if I don't already know this...)  And she says : "I'm with you.  Let's do it.  I'll take the final check, and we can downsize.  Let's start planning on making this a reality.  I don't want to look for another job for a while.  Maybe ever.   I want to just leave this <company> forever and have some fun before we go toes up."  There's real excitement in her voice.
Maybe that's just the burnout talking, but for now, she's fully onboard.  She also figures that cross-training on the new hire will be mostly complete by March which will reduce the guilt of leaving the job behind.

I probably don’t need to state this, but I’ll do it anyway:  I’m pretty happy/relieved/excited about these developments. 

As far as I'm concerned, this is the last piece of our RE puzzle. 

March 2015, here we come.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions -- I used many ideas in our discussions.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cheddar Stacker on August 20, 2014, 08:59:18 AM
Happy for you Dr.

Very cool.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Villanelle on August 20, 2014, 09:01:20 AM
Congratulations!  That's such wonderful news!

I would advise her to make sure no one gets a hint that she's considering leaving, until she has that bonus check in her hot little hands.  It wouldn't be all that unusual for them to let her go, if they know she's planning on leaving anyway, in order to save themselves the bonus $.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: rujancified on August 20, 2014, 09:05:49 AM
Awesome update! Love to see the great communication most of all!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Grid on August 20, 2014, 09:29:26 AM
Wow.  That's amazing news!  Congrats!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Nancy on August 20, 2014, 09:53:05 AM
Congratulations!! I really enjoy your blog. You're quite funny.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Eric on August 20, 2014, 10:20:37 AM
Wow, that is great news Dr. Doom!  I'm happy for you and I'm sure that doing it together will be much more rewarding.

I also asked her to read my blog, where I'm documenting the details of my 14+ history of employment, and she's no longer wondering why I don't want to work anymore.  She said the posts clear things up in a way that just casually griping about work in the evenings has failed to do so, because they cover so much ground and much of the content is all too true and, despite my feeble attempts at humor, kind of depressing.

I can't say I'm surprised that this is what sold it for her to understand why you have to get out.  Your detailed work posts are written with such detail and style that they make me frustrated for you.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: dude on August 20, 2014, 11:16:27 AM
Congrats!  I hope my wife has a similar epiphany one day, though she knows full well I'm ER'ing on my timetable whether she wants me to or not!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: okashira on August 20, 2014, 11:46:01 AM

It's been three months since I've posted on this and I wanted to share an update.

When I last left the thread, I'd mentioned the plan was to try counseling in an attempt to improve our communication overall.  The idea was that if we're communicating better, we can talk about FIRE more openly and without meltdowns.

Toward the end of May I suggested counseling and she was extremely resistant to it.  She wanted to know the underlying reason I thought we had communication issues.  I admitted that it was due to our struggles discussing "the early retirement thing."   She asked if I thought our communication was okay in other areas, and I said, with honesty, yes.

To sidestep the counseling request, she agreed to talk to me about FIRE once a week for half an hour, Sunday after dinner, as if we had an appointment with someone. 

Our sessions have been pretty good.  We've talked over a whole range of topics at this point including some rehash of finances and the driver behind FIRE and what I'm planning on doing with my time and health care and why I would ideally like to do it together rather than just me ditching work while she's still grinding.
Also I’ve uncovered at least two of the reasons why she’d been so reluctant to FIRE with me.

1)   We both grew up on the poor side of things but I grew up “US” poor and she grew up “Portuguese Village” poor.  There’s an underlying difference in hardship.  I went through social struggles related to wearing hand-me-downs at school and using meal-tickets to get lunches.  But she went through physical struggles:  really cold nights with no heat, days when there wasn’t enough to eat.  Part of her simply fears being poor again.  Working and pulling a good income is a way for her to combat the internal voices which sometimes suggest that not working could result in a return to those conditions.  See?  I’m not poor!  I’m earning all of this money and saving it! I’ll never be uncomfortable again!  And the voice shuts the hell up.

Going over the finances a few more times has helped her to feel more comfortable on this end of things.  We've oversaved by quite a bit, will be drawing 3%ish off annually with a paid-off hosue, and have decent buffers built into the plan.

2)   She’s a really loyal person.  In her current role, she hasn’t had a backup in years and worried about the company’s ability to survive without her.  In other words, anytime she thought about leaving she felt really guilty.  This has also been at least partially fixed – they hired someone in June to shadow her and the cross-training is going well.

But the real breakthrough came last weekend because she had to work a whole lot of hours unexpectedly to oversee troubleshooting efforts on a whole bunch of technical issues for her company.   We had to skip an anticipated visit with our nephews because of this. Also, it’s the third weekend in a row that this has happened.  She’s starting to believe that unexpected work of this kind is the 'new normal' for her role.

A bit of explanation is probably required here:  In June she was promoted at work.
I told her she probably didn't want to be promoted, for all of the reasons you would expect I might advise against it (a disproportionate rise in responsibility and hours as compared to the increase in compensation, less technical work and more idiotic politics, have to be more careful what you say in the office, etc -- the list goes on and on) but she took it anyway.

And she's unfortunately really unhappy in her role.  She asked to be demoted last week and her request was denied.  Her hours have shot up.  Expectations have risen. So she suddenly really wants out.   

I also asked her to read my blog, where I'm documenting the details of my 14+ history of employment, and she's no longer wondering why I don't want to work anymore.  She said the posts clear things up in a way that just casually griping about work in the evenings has failed to do so, because they cover so much ground and much of the content is all too true and, despite my feeble attempts at humor, kind of depressing.

At any rate, yesterday she comes home from work with the news that that her bonus is dispersed in March (as if I don't already know this...)  And she says : "I'm with you.  Let's do it.  I'll take the final check, and we can downsize.  Let's start planning on making this a reality.  I don't want to look for another job for a while.  Maybe ever.   I want to just leave this <company> forever and have some fun before we go toes up."  There's real excitement in her voice.
Maybe that's just the burnout talking, but for now, she's fully onboard.  She also figures that cross-training on the new hire will be mostly complete by March which will reduce the guilt of leaving the job behind.

I probably don’t need to state this, but I’ll do it anyway:  I’m pretty happy/relieved/excited about these developments. 

As far as I'm concerned, this is the last piece of our RE puzzle. 

March 2015, here we come.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions -- I used many ideas in our discussions.

Amazing update!!
I had not followed this thread before. I read the whole thing today, let me tell you, I almost had goosebumps after reading this final updates. Congrats.
Hope she comes up with a "FU Story," to share as her final offering to mustachianism! ;-)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Thegoblinchief on August 20, 2014, 11:47:44 AM
YESSSSSSS!!!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Goldielocks on August 20, 2014, 06:06:22 PM
Wow -- 1/2hr appointment once a week to communicate.   I am definitely my own worst problem here.  I will need to get started.

Thanks for the great story, and congratulations!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 21, 2014, 08:01:27 AM
Congratulations!  That's such wonderful news!

I would advise her to make sure no one gets a hint that she's considering leaving, until she has that bonus check in her hot little hands.  It wouldn't be all that unusual for them to let her go, if they know she's planning on leaving anyway, in order to save themselves the bonus $.

Completely agree.  She's going to hold the cards close to her chest. 

The timing works for me, anyway -- She'll get her bonus in March, and those three months in 2015 should allow me to frontload my 401(k) for the year.  Then -- poof for both of us.

My big takeaway from this whole experience is that I didn't sufficiently communicate my FIRE plans with my spouse until much too late.  Instead of a journey of two, I was hiking the trail solo and then just sort of expected her to automatically join me at the end.  And it can potentially take a long time and quite a bit of work on both sides -- lots of talks, sharing, and 2-way dialogue -- for things to come together. 

Somehow, I had this mistaken idea that saying, "Honey, we can quit now" would be all it would take to get her onboard.  Holy crap was I wrong.

@okashira, I think she'll probably exit quietly rather than make a mess with a genuine FU-style departure.  Although it'd be fun in the short term (they're always great stories, and the FU thread on this forum is staggeringly awesome) she's going to want to maintain relationships and leave the door open with her soon-to-be-ex employer.

Thanks again for all of the support. The community on these boards is amazing and I'm not sure we would have reached this point without some of the feedback and ideas presented here. 



Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 21, 2014, 08:47:52 AM
...
I can't say I'm surprised that this is what sold it for her to understand why you have to get out.  Your detailed work posts are written with such detail and style that they make me frustrated for you.

I wouldn't say it sold her but it definitely helped.  Thanks for reading, btw, I'm continually surprised that people are interested in that content, especially given the length.  Don't be frustrated for me, though -- I'm actually with a really good employer right now, and having all of those less than good experiences makes me grateful and mostly content to be where I am for a bit longer, because I know how much worse it can be.   

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cheddar Stacker on August 21, 2014, 08:51:55 AM
Thanks for reading, btw, I'm continually surprised that people are interested in that content, especially given the length. 

I just clicked over to your blog yesterday and I'm still back in January. I'm looking forward to seeing how 2014 progressed. Love the first few posts. I forgot about Ghosts and Goblins until yesterday.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: SunshineGirl on August 21, 2014, 09:37:04 AM
The three tactics I might use in your situation are:

1. Schedule a long-ish vacation ASAP and make it one where you do/learn something new. Like, three weeks in South America studying Spanish. I find that a change of venue and experience always makes my SO and I say things like, "Wouldn't it be great if we could....all the time?"

2. How about floating the idea of the two of you starting a business together on the side of your normal jobs, in the hopes that THAT would give her the validation she would need to be viewed how she wants to be viewed by others? If you haven't already, check out Tim Ferriss' books and blog. The goal is to create income without creating time-intensive work.

3. "It's not okay for you to be unhappy with your job. Let's make your number one priority finding a job you like, even if it means making less money." She's demonstrating that change is hard for her in any regard.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Frankies Girl on August 21, 2014, 09:52:25 AM
Dr. Doom - that is a wonderful update and I'm so happy for the both of you! :D

I can't wait to see how this plays out for you both. After reading your blog and the work history (which is highly entertaining btw), I've been rooting for your successful journey to FIRE - and how awesome that the spouse is joining you!


Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on August 22, 2014, 09:55:24 AM
Fantastic news, fo sho!  Don't be surprised if there are some cold feet on her part, but now that it is out there, you have a foundation to build on.  There are studies that both people (typically older) should retire at the same time.  Keep on sharing, as you can probably tell we are all interested to hear how it goes :)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Chranstronaut on August 22, 2014, 11:09:25 AM

My big takeaway from this whole experience is that I didn't sufficiently communicate my FIRE plans with my spouse until much too late.  Instead of a journey of two, I was hiking the trail solo and then just sort of expected her to automatically join me at the end.  And it can potentially take a long time and quite a bit of work on both sides -- lots of talks, sharing, and 2-way dialogue -- for things to come together. 

Thanks for the update Dr. Doom!  I am so happy to hear how things have gone for you two, and I really enjoyed hearing about your method of setting an appointment to talk things over.  I feel like making this kind of arrangement would be beneficial when dealing with many challenges in life, not just FIRE.  It's hard for me to remember that as I become more comfortable with someone, I let some of the most important fundamentals of communication drop away-- when really, that's when I need them most!  This thread provided me with quite a bit of self-learning.

Good luck to you and your wife!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Cassie on August 22, 2014, 02:24:26 PM
You both did an awesome job of really listening to each other & taking the time to understand one another. I am so happy for you both!!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: lhamo on August 22, 2014, 06:41:36 PM
Whooo hoooo!!!!!  What a great story.  So happy for both of you.

She may find it hard to do, but I would encourage her (and you in support of her) to be as firm about setting reasonable boundaries at work as possible.  The bonus is a nice target, but she shouldn't be killing herself to hold out until March if they are making unreasonable demands on her time that are making your lives miserable.  She has already told them she doesn't really want this new job and they aren't listening.  Fine.  She shouldn't give them any more than the minimum, and should be focusing her attention on planning for the wonderful life you guys are going to have post FIRE. 

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 23, 2014, 07:42:27 AM
Thanks for reading, btw, I'm continually surprised that people are interested in that content, especially given the length. 
I forgot about Ghosts and Goblins until yesterday.

Never forget about Ghosts and Goblins!  NEVER!!! <G> That game was eventually replaced with Kung-Fu, which doesn't have a single zombie in it.  Total bummer.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 23, 2014, 08:01:17 AM
Dr. Doom - that is a wonderful update and I'm so happy for the both of you! :D

I can't wait to see how this plays out for you both. After reading your blog and the work history (which is highly entertaining btw), I've been rooting for your successful journey to FIRE - and how awesome that the spouse is joining you!

Thanks, FG!  I still can hardly believe it.  This weekend we're starting to get into the nuts and bolts of downsizing, and she's genuinely interested and excited about the process.  Such an amazing thing to be doing this 100% together.

It's hard for me to remember that as I become more comfortable with someone, I let some of the most important fundamentals of communication drop away-- when really, that's when I need them most! 

This is very insightful and is certainly part of what happened with us.  Sometimes we make incorrect assumptions that our partner is on the same wavelength on certain topics so there's no need to have a discussion, and it's difficult to find out later that you were wrong. 

@EV, yeah, I am sort of prepared for a bit of backpedaling at some point, especially if her work-grind lets up and she starts to think her job is 'tolerable' again, but even so, the biggest hurdle has been cleared and we have better communication on this subject now, so I'm totally sure that we'll keep moving in this direction.  She was SO completely pissed at not being able to have visits with our nephews due to weekend work (which she values above just about anything else in life, btw) that I'm hopeful that any potential changes will be slight.

>>be as firm about setting reasonable boundaries at work as possible.

We're trying.  It's a constant challenge.  Much of the weekend stuff relates to a) outages and b) scheduled work that can only be performed off-hours due to service availability requirements (It's IT-type stuff).    It's very difficult to say no to this sort of stuff because it's not strictly project work, and in addition, since she's "management" now, it's simply harder push back.  Agree with your point though, 100%, I support her pushing back - just not sure how successful it's going to be.  She could always take the hard line "Well, if you schedule this work on the weekend, it just ain't getting done" approach but that makes for a hostile environment.  At that point, she's picking poisons.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: G-dog on August 23, 2014, 08:57:02 AM
You both did an awesome job of really listening to each other & taking the time to understand one another. I am so happy for you both!!


+1 and I'll add this is a great example of the benefits of love, patience, tenacity, as well as how easy it is to think you are communicating well, but missing some key element that the other needs to understand.

Congratulations! On both being on the same page now, but more so on how you managed to get there.

I hope to FIRE April 2015  - we should start an annual FIRE party sometime.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: kodokan on August 24, 2014, 12:46:20 PM
Thanks for reading, btw, I'm continually surprised that people are interested in that content, especially given the length.

I'm LOVING the work history story! I've just spent several hours this morning reading it from the start, along with dipping into your other, more financial content. I've been boring on to hubby all day about 'this great new blog I've found, the guy's a terrifically amusing writer, really nails Corporate America... look, I'll send you the link, read it, read it!'

Can't wait to read how your work finishes over the coming months - obviously it's going to be a happy ending, now that you've got some real traction with your wife. Good luck to you both.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: Dr. Doom on August 28, 2014, 06:51:37 PM
You both did an awesome job of really listening to each other & taking the time to understand one another. I am so happy for you both!!


+1 and I'll add this is a great example of the benefits of love, patience, tenacity, as well as how easy it is to think you are communicating well, but missing some key element that the other needs to understand.

Congratulations! On both being on the same page now, but more so on how you managed to get there.

I hope to FIRE April 2015  - we should start an annual FIRE party sometime.

That is so cool.  So next year there should be two threads posted to these boards within days of one another, announcing our respective departures from regular work.  I'm really happy you're almost there.  You must be counting days at this point.  How do I know?  Because I sure as hell am.  Very exciting.

BTW - I'm also glad that some people are enjoying the blog. Thanks for all of the kind words!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: HappierAtHome on August 28, 2014, 08:30:28 PM
Quote
I'm also glad that some people are enjoying the blog. Thanks for all of the kind words!

I read through the entire blog recently and loved it. Now I check for updates just a little too frequently :-P
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: MsRichLife on August 28, 2014, 08:58:58 PM
Well done on breaking through the communication barrier with your wife.

I must say, DH and I have been on this journey together and it's wonderful to have someone to get excited with. Now we just need to agree what we are going to do with ourselves once FIREd....travel around the world in slow time OR buy a farmlet!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: TomTX on August 30, 2014, 06:36:51 AM
We're trying.  It's a constant challenge.  Much of the weekend stuff relates to a) outages and b) scheduled work that can only be performed off-hours due to service availability requirements (It's IT-type stuff).    It's very difficult to say no to this sort of stuff because it's not strictly project work, and in addition, since she's "management" now, it's simply harder push back.  Agree with your point though, 100%, I support her pushing back - just not sure how successful it's going to be.  She could always take the hard line "Well, if you schedule this work on the weekend, it just ain't getting done" approach but that makes for a hostile environment.  At that point, she's picking poisons.

As a middle ground, she can just flatly tell them that she's taking off Monday (or Monday/Tuesday) after weekend work. If they "need" her in those days - fine. Start leaving at lunchtime 4 days a week. Or take lunch from 10-2 (siesta!) Whatever.

She can reclaim her time without refusing the weekend work. Might not be ideal, but it's something.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: G-dog on August 30, 2014, 06:44:10 AM
You both did an awesome job of really listening to each other & taking the time to understand one another. I am so happy for you both!!


+1 and I'll add this is a great example of the benefits of love, patience, tenacity, as well as how easy it is to think you are communicating well, but missing some key element that the other needs to understand.

Congratulations! On both being on the same page now, but more so on how you managed to get there.

I hope to FIRE April 2015  - we should start an annual FIRE party sometime.

That is so cool.  So next year there should be two threads posted to these boards within days of one another, announcing our respective departures from regular work.  I'm really happy you're almost there.  You must be counting days at this point.  How do I know?  Because I sure as hell am.  Very exciting.

BTW - I'm also glad that some people are enjoying the blog. Thanks for all of the kind words!

Oh yes - counting the days on a spreadsheet (calendar days, work days, % calendar days left, % work days left).
There is a new job open at work, part of me wants to apply, parts of me just wants to hunker down and finish up.  Though, my SO is not really on board yet and I did say I would look for other jobs.....
Title: Re: Reader Case Study: Convince SO that I can FIRE (with or without her)
Post by: HairyUpperLip on August 30, 2014, 07:44:09 AM
hey, really enjoying your work experience series on your blog. can't wait for the rest!