Friday, May 30, 2014

Retiring my husband

My husband's mother was a congenitally unhappy woman.  She married my husband's father thinking that he would become fabulously wealthy; but instead of becoming a business owner like his brothers, her husband worked as a teamster and truck driver for all of his life.  So she spent much of their marriage complaining and berating and trying unsuccessfully-but-persistently to nag him into the life she'd imagined would make him happy and successful.  Needless to say, this didn't work.

I, thank goodness, am completely different.  A formidable frugalist who is content to live off of the gleanings of a society that already stuffs itself with more than it really needs, I don't have any desire to goad my husband into a better-paying job.  No, I don't nag him to get a better job.  I nag him to retire.

Maybe "nag" is too strong a word here (in fact, I sincerely hope it is).  But it is true that one chilly, icy day this past February, I realized that this dream of having my husband leave his job is much more my dream than his.  And I realized that maybe I've been a little myopically insistent in the way I've herded my husband toward this future.  Maybe, in fact, my vision of his success doesn't match his vision.

The "aha" moment I had led to a really good conversation between us.  In particular, I got to listen carefully to all the reasons that retiring makes him nervous.  There's the question of money of course: can we really make it without his salary, especially now that we've committed to paying for the expensive Quaker Local School?  There are questions of professional connections: if he stops working now but later changes his mind, could he ever get his foot back in the door?

And some of the challenges -- I admit rather sheepishly -- are because of his being married to me.  There are questions about living off of his wife -- not because of the gender issue, but because spending Miser Mom's money would seem to compel a Miser Mom lifestyle.   He likes going to coffee houses and bakeries and buying plastic bottles full of colored drinking fluids that I find horrid.  Would that have to change if he were a kept man, and the keeper were me?  I'd like to think the "don't drive them crazy" rule that I have for myself would be in full force as always, but I can see why the situation could get a little scratchy and uncomfortable.

There are absolutely no questions, however, over how he'd fill his time.  The boys need much more attention than we give them right now, and my husband (retired version) could pour himself into their care and feeding and education and physical fitness regimen.  My guy loves bicycling, and if he could, he'd spend hours each day riding.  He loves reading, and he loves meeting with his friends to talk theology/philosophy/politics.  He'd totally be one of the most awesome retired guys in the city, and we both know it.

So here's the current plan; it still needs some ironing out and paperwork, but it's looking increasingly likely:  Starting June 6, he heads off for his annual 2-week army training, leaving me solo for a fortnight.  When he returns to civilian life, he goes down to working part-time.  He'll work from home one day a week and at his far-away office another day each week.  And he'll have three days (plus the weekend) to be retired.

I am very happy about this plan.  It's a wonderful way to test the waters, to avoid making decisions from which there is no return, to keep a bit of money flowing into the Miser Mom (et al) household.  And since the plan was my husband's idea, he's happy, too, which is all the more reason for me to be delighted.

So, in just under a month, we'll be semi-retiring my husband.  Wish us luck!