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  1. #1

    Non-Working Spouse Input Into Retirement Timing

    Not trying to minimize the role of non-working spouses in a relationship, as many take on important responsibilities involving the house and/or kids. Having said that, it would seem there is probably an awkwardness in factoring in thoughts/concerns of the non-working spouse as to how long the working spouse should work. Balancing the lifestyle aspirations of each and the interest of the working spouse to continue working. Seems the working spouse is incentivized to consider a less extravagant lifestyle in retirement if it means stopping work earlier, an incentive that may not be there for the non-working spouse. I would imagine this issue would also arise if the non-working spouse retired early themselves which may or may not hamper the ability of the other spouse to retire early and possibly create resentment. I would imagine some get around this issue by focusing on retiring early together even if there is an age gap, but that's not always possible. Any thoughts/stories on walking through this minefield?

  2. #2
    Interesting! We are walking through that minefield right now. I have been retired 1+ year now. We have one elder parent in the home with us and that would be DW's mother. DW is still working but after much discussion I have convinced her that she needs to join me in retirement. We can make it based on our calculations so it makes sense. I feel better with her at home more for her mom.

  3. #3
    As long as either one of you will be OK financially if the other dies, then IMHO the working spouse should have the most weight, biggest voice, in this decision. If I had always worked outside the home and my spouse had not, my likely reply would be a somewhat snarky, feel free to get a job if you wish!

    I had worked the longest and the hardest so I got to retire first. And I earned it by putting him through school and working non-stop. He had his college years and several long periods of unemployment while I worked. So I thought that was the best that could be done to square things up. It was negotiated long in advance. He always knew if there was a choice, I got to quit first.

  4. #4
    I'll go a step further:
    A working person is the sole decision-maker re when s/he is going to retire, regardless of whether their spouse is working or not.
    If retiring will cause financial strain, then the couple together decides how they will deal with that. It might mean selling and downsizing to a cheaper house, finding ways to spend less, or one or both getting part-time jobs.

  5. #5
    The reason this came up was because I saw on another message board that someone detailed their situation in which Spouse 1 retired in their early 50's and Spouse 2 was looking at pulling the plug in their early-mid 60's but Spouse 1 was being a little skittish about the financial impact of doing so. Seemed to me that my tolerance for "feedback" would be quite low in that type of situation. Obviously specific circumstances will have an impact, for example if Spouse 1 retired to care for a Parent (I'd rather work). In this instance, I believe it was to get out of the rat race.

  6. #6
    In our marriage we have always both worked, so it's not personally a relevant issue to us. If I were the working spouse and my non-working spouse said that they didn't wish me to retire for monetary reasons, that would be a non-starter. Unless the non-working spouse is disabled, there is no reason for them to expect the working spouse to delay retirement if they can afford to with reasonable lifestyle reductions. If they want more spending money, the NW spouse can get their own job, or figure out a way to earn more from investments, or from some at-home business. When care of a relative is involved, either party can do that. I just don't see why one spouse should get a "free-ride" at the other's expense if the child/ family care is not an issue. Along the way certain negotiations and changes need to be made for fairness sake.

    When our math indicated that it was time for DH to pull the plug, I followed soon after, even though I was 5 years younger. We took a major hit in income, but that was understood beforehand and we made our adjustments, and couldn't be happier.


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