I’m in a bit of a quandary, and I can’t seem to get my wife to understand. I’m 60, in good health and very happily married, and my wife just turned 50. I’ve owned my business for years, and I’ve created a passive income source that generates about $150,000 a year. With just a bit of work, I can generate another $50,000 to $75,000 a year.
The work that I do can be done remotely. We have two homes with a combined value of just under $1 million, and we have about $500,000 in equity in the homes. One of the homes is a short-term rental that generates about $3,000 a month in profit above the mortgage. We have IRAs as well as Roths in both of our names and an investment account, with a combined total of $425,000 in the accounts.
I want to semi-retire, buy a nice RV and travel, coming back to our beautiful home in North Carolina when we want. My wife, on the other hand, currently works and earns about $35,000 a year. She’s stated that she doesn’t want to “let her employer down” by quitting. She recently got the job and her employer is very happy to have her. She has no vacation saved as she just started, and she gets two weeks each year.
I’ve tried to convince her that my income as well as our savings are more than enough to live very comfortably, and there is no reason other than her personal job satisfaction for her to continue to work. We have everything in joint accounts, and I have created a legal and binding contract that my passive income goes to her. We have commingled all of our assets over the years, and she knows that everything will be hers in the case of my demise.
My frustration is that I’ve created an opportunity for both of us to not have to work until age 65 or older, and I’d like to be able to travel and enjoy ourselves. She loves to travel as well, but is hesitant to quit her job.
I’ve tried to nicely explain that if things don’t work out traveling, she can always get another job in her field with little effort. Any advice?
Dear Itchy Feet,
There’s a lot in your letter about what you want and what you want from your wife, but what does your wife want? You have enough money to retire early and travel, and you have tried to convince her to see things your way. But there are two people in this marriage, and she may not wish to go along with your plans.
That’s not her problem. You want your wife to make a big change in her life to fall into step with yours. It’s up to you to figure out a compromise and/or accept her wishes. She says that she does not want to let her employer down, but I suspect she is using that as a way to avoid having a bigger conversation.
The 10-year age gap is not terribly significant, except you are now at different stages in your lives. She has 10 to 15 years left in her job. Her work life and career are likely important to her. She has every right to see that through. It may give her a sense of purpose or, hey, she might just really like her job.
Many people enjoy the routine, earning their own money and having that critical sense of independence, pursuing their own career goals and even spending time with their coworkers. If she gave up work, it would be you and your wife at home, or you and your wife in an RV. It could get claustrophobic very quickly.
Why don’t you have a bigger conversation about work and life, and retirement goals, and preface it with the fact that you appreciate she does not want to stop working at 50? It’s difficult to have open, honest conversations when one person has something they want and is pressuring the other person into doing it.
Your wife could be fine with you taking trips solo, and joining you from time to time. She may even find that she misses having you around, and decide to scale down her own work and join you. But don’t enter this process with preconceived notions about what she will decide. It may leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed.
Take heart in your achievements, and celebrate your wife’s accomplishments. There is more to her life’s work than money.
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