My Wife and I Can’t Agree on Retirement

Question: Dear Luise: My wife and I are both 72 years old and in average, but not great, health. We have been married 25 years and we agree that it is time for a change. However, we do not agree regarding how that looks. I want to sell our home and build on a remote tract of land left to me by my mother. My wife also wants to sell, but she wants to move into a retirement center offering programs of all kinds along with meals, housekeeping, and yard work. Neither of us is willing to budge and if we separate over this, she will be able to do what she wants to do but I will not have enough money left to build. The situation is tearing both of us up. Don

Answer: Dear Don: It sounds like all either of you can see as a solution is a win/lose situation. Either she gets dragged off into the boonies and into a complex project she is not interested in, or you get similarly hauled off to a retirement center you don’t find interesting at this time. And it also sounds like divorce would leave her entering a retirement center alone and you up the creek. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything!

If you have a quarter of a century of partnership behind you, certainly you must have come up against issues where mutual respect and compromise were the only answer. Take a little time to look back over the years and recall when that happened and how you worked it out.

It looks like you will both have to give, to be able to go on. Since building your own home is the plan that will take up the most energy, it is only practical to tackle that first. Why not create a five-year contract that states that your wife will support you 100% in building your new home and that after five years, you agree to sell and move to the retirement center of her choice? Mutual respect is again the basis of such a compromise and you both get what you want.

If you take that road, it needs to be a deep commitment since is it is irreversible. There can be no possibility that part way through the project, when things get difficult, and they will, that your wife will bail on you. You, too, have to stay in a no-matter-what mode regarding giving up your new home at the appointed time.

If you find it too hard to talk this through, consider contacting a counselor who can see you through it to a satisfactory conclusion. You have invested a lot of time in each other, why not see yourselves as an unbeatable combination and prove it? Blessings, Luise

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