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{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Perspective

She lurched into the room. Glassy-eyed. Slightly unsteady on her feet. Half-empty wine glass dangling precariously between two fingers.

Angry gaze sweeping the room in search of targets.

A scathing complaint about toys on the floor, where the younger boy was actively playing with them. He grabbed a couple of transformers and scarpered.

Shots fired.

Slurred sniping about a lack of revision being done by the older boy. He’d been studying hard all weekend, only just coming up for air late on Sunday afternoon. Brain fried. Headphones in. He’d been contentedly watching anime on his iPad until moments before. Death stares were exchanged, before he stomped back upstairs and slammed his bedroom door with enough force to make the windows rattle. I noticed he’d taken his iPad with him, smart boy!

A ranging shot.

She scowled at the feuding cats, who froze, before skedaddling outside into the rain.

Then she looked at me. A series of expressions rapidly flittered across her face, settling on contempt.

Target acquired. Fire for effect.

The opening salvos were a selection from the greatest hits catalogue. Employment. Family. Housing. Imagined insults. Perceived slights. Concluding with the familiar lament about why her friends could lead fabulous lives of luxury, but she could not?

The rant was belittling and mean spirited. Intended to wound. Heard so many times before it had little effect.

But today the delivery was off.

These Sunday night diatribes were typically served up with the kind of venom that curdled milk and stripped paint from the walls. Today it was half-hearted. As though she was going through the motions. Phoning it in.

Something was different.

I donned my helmet and psyched myself up to venture into the lion’s den. My inner saboteur gave a resigned sigh, wryly observing this must be what it felt like to accept a suicide mission, like those condemned prisoners in the “Dirty Dozen” movies my grandfather had loved watching.

After lobbing a few more verbal grenades, she said one of her acquaintances had suffered an aneurysm.

Lights out.

Game over.

Dead before they hit the floor.

Aged in their early forties. A sudden and random ending that tragically left behind a young family.

The acquaintance had played the career game hard, but unlike most, with a long term plan in mind.

First, endure a soul-destroying professional services career. Work that is well-paid yet meaningless, adding little value and helping no one. A familiar, yet uncomfortable, truth for much of the financial services and technology worlds.

Second, accumulate a nest-egg capable of sustainably supporting a modest yet comfortable lifestyle.

Third, escape the corporate world to devote the second phase of their working life to meaningful work that helped people every day. The kind of job that is important for society, yet pays peanuts.

The acquaintance had handed in their notice at work.

Actively counted down the sleeps until they could start doing professionally what they had long volunteered to do on a time-constrained basis.

Cruelly felled when the finishing line was in sight.

It was a sad story.

Yet I was puzzled by the impact the news appeared to have had. It wasn’t a name that had been mentioned previously. Neither a work colleague nor a friend. Apparently, it wasn’t a name at all, but a pseudonymous internet handle with whom she had occasionally chatted during rare quiet moments while they both volunteered at the same online charity.

Hopes and dreams

Through tears and more wine, the picture became clearer.

She had a similar career switch in mind.

Escape the always-on “big job” that has been slowly but surely crushing her throughout these COVID times. All-remote-all-the-time had meant follow the sun video conferences. Asian mornings through to East Coast evenings. Working from home had become living at work.

Office reopenings may have led to a change of view, but the firm had become accustomed to operating an always contactable locked-down workforce, with nowhere else to be and nothing better to do. No excuses. The COO might have secured a bonus for trimming the corporate rent bill, but the real performance gain had been transforming the definition of “full-time” job into a 24×7 lifestyle choice.

She was burnt out. Depressed. Frayed. Spent. Unravelling.

Never a good combination. Nor one that has ended well in the past.

The very embodiment of someone seeking Financial Independence, at the beginning of their journey.

Having reached an age where she attends more funerals than weddings, she was acutely aware of the passage of time. She didn’t want to end up like her acquaintance, or my father, who both postponed seeking joy and fulfilment in life until it was too late.

While listening to the tale, I had dropped my guard. I vividly recalled the time when a dance with The Reaper had initiated my own thought process that led me to similar conclusions. Lifestyle choices that had drawn derision and scorn, mocking and ridicule ever since. Venturing off-script and living by my own rules not fitting with the accepted narrative.

Could she be coming around to my way of thinking?

Was this a turning point in our increasingly fractious relationship?

Just when I thought she was calming down, she drained her glass and went for the knock-out blow.

Simple guide to financial independence

Her solution was simple. We would trade places.

She would quit. Study. Move into a lowly paid yet fulfilling role dedicated to helping people.

I would have to “man up”. Swallow my pride. Climb back on the career ladder. Take a permanent job that earned enough to ensure her current lifestyle didn’t suffer.

It was her turn. Her due. After giving me two children and twenty years of marriage, she wanted to collect.

My cash flowing investment portfolio would be liquidated. The proceeds used to purchase her cash consuming dream house. That way I couldn’t backslide, and should we get divorced her financial interests would be protected because “the mother always gets the house, kids, and spousal support”.

Her plan was a brutally honest form of “Spouse-FI”.

The chosen lifestyle led by more than a few “do as I say, not as I do” voices in the FIRE movement.

Having delivered that bombshell, she shot me a triumphant, if slightly unfocussed, glare.

I was gobsmacked. It would be fair to say I hadn’t seen that coming.

Perspective

One of the interesting things about personal finance blogs is how much of the narrative depends upon the author’s perspective. The protagonist often has a compelling backstory.

Scrappy underdog makes good.

Kid from the wrong side of the tracks conquers the world.

Reformed consumerist defeats a mountain of credit card debt and student loans.

Suffering martyr with fragile mental health struggles to receive their due in a big bad world.

Corporate escapee finds zen-like peace of mind schilling life coaching, mindfulness, or stoicism.

Some appear to hustle their way through endless “get rich quick” schemes. Affiliate marketing. Drop shipping. Matched betting. Always busy. Rarely calculating the return-on-investment of their time.

Others grind away in traditional careers. Modest lifestyles leading to high savings rates. Allowing rising markets and property prices to do the heavy lifting over the long term.

The tales are often engaging, but rarely tell the full story.

We claim the wins. Deflect losses. Rarely mention good fortune or the help received along the way.

Which is as it should be. Readers turn to blogs seeking entertainment or a relatable escape from their own lives. Those offering easy answers and how-to guides are attempting to sell you something.

To illustrate, consider the humble net worth update. A staple of the personal journal style site. Ensuring a regular publishing cadence. Charting progress along their individual journey.

Many bloggers bask in the warm fuzzy feeling provided by inflated net worth figures.

Age-restricted pension balances they can’t access.

Accrued transaction costs and capital gains taxes conveniently ignored.

Projections based on S&P500 historical returns, while actually investing in lower returning individual stocks or local market index trackers. Painting a rose coloured picture by comparing apples to wheelbarrows.

Safe” withdrawal rates based upon a net worth calculation that includes home equity, which is a problem if you don’t want to sell 4% of the house you live in each year.

Each one a personal choice. A perspective. Interpreting facts in a way that might be accurate, but isn’t necessarily true at the time. Seeing and believing what we wish to believe. Telling a tale.

As part of maintaining a healthy scepticism, it can be a useful exercise for the reader to consider alternative perspectives that could be applied to the same circumstances described.

For example, my semi-retired seasonal working pattern could be alternately viewed as a lazy idler with a short attention span who struggles to hold down a job. Passive income either financing that lifestyle by design, or selfishly denying my family the financial security of living in an owner occupied dream house.

Meanwhile, my lady wife’s pursuit of a demanding career out of ambition and envy could be alternatively portrayed as a breadwinning mother of two who works hard to provide for her family. Making up for her no good layabout husband’s many and storied shortcomings.

Multiple presentations of the same facts. Correlation or causation? Who can say?

Transactional affection

In the early years of our relationship, jewellery was a preferred gift of choice for my lady wife.

To me, these shiny trinkets were tokens of affection.

Initially, I might choose something as a surprise, a behaviour I was swiftly cured of. As my income increased, the price tag of these sought after trinkets steadily climbed.

In time, it occurred to me that the jewellery was being collected but seldom worn. When I asked about it, I was fobbed off with a complaint that we rarely went anywhere “nice” to wear it to. Which was accurate but, as it turned out, not true.

Years later I found myself seated on a long haul flight next to my mother-in-law.

She spoke about the many positive changes in the world she had witnessed over her long life.

Improvements in education. Health. Life expectancy.

Global migration. Offering the chance of a better life to millions of people born in poverty-stricken countries. Those willing to take a risk, work hard, and provide a more promising future for their family.

Then she started talking about how different things were for women. In the not too distant past, women were property. Given or sold from fathers to husbands. Unable to own property or wealth.

Jewellery became a popular workaround. Small. Mobile. Valuable. Easily transported, hidden, or converted to cash. A woman’s store of wealth, independent of male relatives who could neither be depended nor relied upon.

Girls were taught to accumulate jewellery. Gold bangles. Necklaces. Rings set with precious stones.

Jewellery wasn’t a gift, but a transfer of wealth. Tokens of monetary value, rather than affection.

Sometime later, one of my lady wife’s friends had been showing off their latest bauble from Tiffany’s. On the way home, I recounted the conversation with my mother-in-law about changing times and cultural mores.

My lady wife agreed that things had improved for women, but strongly believed that only foolish women would allow themselves to become financially dependent upon a man.

Smart women have their own money and see to their own wealth.

The “3 months’ full salary” engagement ring rule of thumb might have been popularised by a De Beers marketing campaign, but it really provided a form of insurance for the bride-to-be against being abused or abandoned by a future husband. Three months’ full salary should be enough to get her back on her feet.

Which might be accurate. Possibly even true. Not a perspective I had previously considered.

That brings me back to perspective.

My lady wife’s views on jewellery, money, and wealth differ markedly to my own.

We each believe the other to be inefficient, misguided, and often wrong.

Yet we each also believe our own views are perfectly reasonable. Logical. The correct approach.

The drunken rant with its “mic drop” ending was certainly confronting. A thinly veiled threat or a brave attempt to take control of her own financial destiny? The holder of the pen gets to tell the tale.

Perspective is a curious thing.


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59 Comments

  1. Fire And Wide 11 May 2021

    Wow. I was actually really excited halfway through that your wife had changed her mind about what’s important to her. But no. That is a bombshell and a half for sure. I’m guessing it’s still hanging

    Perspective is always fascinating and worth looking for and listening to, especially when shared from those whose opinions you respect.

    Personally, I think it’s a tough ask to make yourself miserable for a dream you don’t want or believe in. To my mind, that’s not something you do to someone you love – but as you say, that’s my perspective.

    Now, the financial independence angle for women I get entirely. Whilst S & I operate financially entirely as a team we are both FI in our own right. It’s actually also one of the reasons we never got married. Staying together because we want to, not because we need to is a powerfully happy thing.

    Not everyone understands it but it works for us and that’s what matters. I really hope you guys can find your way through to something that works for the both of you too.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Michelle.

      I’ve never been much good at that whole “fit your own oxygen mask before helping others” part of the survival manual. Love long ago gave way to minimising the blast radius. I had hoped things would limp along until both my kids were old enough to fend for themselves. The older one has made it, but not yet the younger one.

      To some extent I think we’ve both been waiting for the other to muster the courage to pull the pin, neither wanting to play the bad guy and blow up the family. I suspect this is a way of forcing that hand. Such is life.

      • Fire And Wide 11 May 2021

        I get it. We’ve had friends go through this for different reasons. Some survived the explosion and emerged stronger together. More emerged separately but relieved the pretence was over.

        Either way, all ended up in a better place, including the kids. A bumpy but necessary road. Yep, such is life.

        But there will be light at the end of the tunnel – (and no, it won’t be an on-rushing train!)

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

          Cheers Michelle. I suspect I’ll be the same, in six months time I will wonder why it didn’t happen five years ago. Potentially an interesting six months to ride though first though. Character building.

  2. David Andrews 11 May 2021

    Ouch. My partner and I have pretty much complete financial separation. Our family home is owned as tenants in common, we each paid for half of the property. We maintain a joint account for all bills and fund it equally. We each also have other property and the income and maintenance is the responsibility of the person who owns it.

    I’m familiar with the description of the domestic feedback you outline. Often it seems that I am the cause of all terrible things in the world and I fail to comprehend how difficult things are for my partner (this feedback usually coincides with an issue where she has had to make an unexpected or large financial payment) Don’t mention cladding issues in a rental property or mandated electrical safety work.

    My insistence that things are put back in the same place so we can later locate the items is not always well received. Domestic equality also apparently does not include both of us taking out the bins or mowing the lawn. Having met later in life, I have a working understanding of domestic project management and fully understand that there are lots of jobs to be done and many of them aren’t terribly exciting.

    We are both at the point where we can decided if we want to keep working. If one of us quits I wouldn’t expect the other one to fund that person’s lifestyle decision. My partner has also consistently earned more than me and I suspect her net worth exceeds mine.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks David.

      Sounds like you’ve found an arrangement that (mostly) works for the two of you. Well done, and best of luck maintaining the domestic harmony!

      Ironically for a (sometimes) personal finance blog, very little of my domestic soap opera is about money. Mostly it stems from expectation. When your dreams originate in the pages of fashion magazines and reality television shows, the real world gets found wanting.

      The trophies and signalling amongst my lady wife’s friends are very visible. What is less obvious are the 12 hour work days, stress related health problems, and realisation that once the one-up(wo)manship is set aside few of them are any happier than my lady wife is.

      It is hard to compete with a myth or illusion.

      The quest for a more fulfilling career is one I applaud and support. What is troubling is the denial that such a move involves trade-offs and compromises in other areas of life. Even were the financial side of things realistic, her social group would be unlikely to treat a teacher or healthcare worker as an equal.

      • David Andrews 11 May 2021

        It’s normally a state of Mutually Assured Destruction which is partly why I retain my emergency house. Sorry to hear of your situation and best wishes for the future.

  3. Andy S 11 May 2021

    Sorry to hear about this. I can relate to this dynamic – the sense of both parties treading water until the kids leave home. It’s a pretty negative way to live one’s life though, although how you find a way out of it without the children being collateral damage, I don’t know. Although maybe they are already collateral damage, as the site of bickering parents can’t fail to have an effect on them (edit – I’m talking about my relationship here rather than yours!!)

    I hope you manage to find a way through this difficult patch.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Andy.

      The kids are both pretty astute, not much gets past them. For the most part there is not much bickering, beyond that lies indifference. It takes two to argue, and I just disengage.

      As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised there are few things genuinely worth fighting about.

  4. The Accumulator 11 May 2021

    A wonderfully written piece, Indeedably, even though the subject is sorrowful. You’ve been signalling something like this was on the cards and I can only admire your courage for telling your side of the story. I know how hard it is to open up in public like this – even on an anonymous blog. I don’t doubt that you’ll find a way through that’s best for everyone.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks TA, things have a way of working out. Not always when or how we might like, but that is what keeps life interesting!

      I figure there are an awful lot of aspirational FIRE blogs out there, written by people who write from a position of well-intentioned ignorance while dreaming of a perfect future life once they reach an arbitrary magic number.

      Which is interesting as far as it goes, but there are very few blogs that talk about life beyond FI, and most of those are trying to sell something! Discussions of real life, where stressors and gremlins remain even after the financial imperative has been removed, are scarce and I think offer a (hopefully) valuable insight. Living A FI and Jacob Lund Fisker are two examples that spring to mind of people who crossed the finishing line to discover that it wasn’t a happily ever after ending, but rather only the beginning.

      Of course, everyone’s experiences vary, but it is worth the occasional reminder that FI is not a magic cure-all. Instead it provides infinite possibilities, while taking away most of the excuses. Those who reach FI are going to be happy or sad, relaxed or stressed, in roughly equal proportions to those who have not. If they were a worrier or unhappy previously, chances are they will continue to be so afterwards.

      FI is just an arbitrary number, not a superpower, after all!

  5. freddy smidlap 11 May 2021

    you painted a very vivid picture of my former reality 20 years ago with my substandard model lady wife. soaked in chardonnay she would start these diatribes about all sorts of nonsense, some of it lifestyle related, yet refuse to work. we had no children (thankfully) so i put a stop to this lousy life with a shrew who did contributed only venom. i used to say “feel free to go out and work enough for chardonnay and cigarette money. and i noticed that despite your free time from any pesky paid work the house is never clean nor dinner ready when i get home from my 12 hour shift.” when she announced she was going back to new orleans my reply was not only would i pay for the moving van rental but i would help load the van. and load the van i did! thankfully we were poor enough to just split up the compact disks and call it a day.

    for a while i though maybe i was partly to blame for the mess. but now i’ve been married 16 years to someone who is nice to me without hardly a bad day…ever.

    life is too short to be around a person who isn’t nice to you most of the time. i own my screw ups and move on but when something becomes a pattern my patience wears thin. thanks for the reminder and reminding me of the gratitude i feel for only living that way a short time.

    all the best in resolving it, even if that means going back to that full time gig to fund the dream house of someone else.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Wow, that is a powerful visual there Freddy. You packing the moving van certainly trumps the old “don’t let the door hit you on the backside on the way out!

      My lady wife isn’t a bad person, she is just in an unhappy place and her view of what is important has evolved in a very different direction to my own. It is unfortunate, but it happens.

      I’ve often wondered whether “until death do us part” made more sense back in the days when life expectancy after marriage was a score of years or less. It is a big ask for someone to still want the same things in their 70s that they did in their 20s. Not impossible, but a special thing when it happens.

  6. teamdave 11 May 2021

    Hi Indeedably, So sorry to hear about this. Don’t know what you’ll end up doing. Guess you could take the fancy new job on offer and pay for the luxury lifestyle that is being requested, but would that actually make her happy? Went through this 18 years ago myself – you can do everything in your power to meet other’s demands but unless you share the same beliefs one of you will always feel resentment.

    Love reading your blog online. Whatever you end up doing, please keep up the writing. Plenty of other FI bloggers have been through this too, from memory JD from Get Rich Slowly and Money Moustache himself.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks teamdave.

      A couple of days later, after I’d had time to process things, I actually ran the numbers to work out what might be required to cover the cost of the career change.

      As has so long been the case in our annual Spring house wars, it would be doable with a significant reduction in rent/mortgage, but not in any of the locations my lady wife would consider living in.

      Such a move would involve a change of schools for both kids due to unviable commutes, so the blast radius is significant.

      Unfortunately, that outcome is just as likely were we to go our separate ways, as the costs of remaining in our current neighbourhood would likely be beyond what either of us could manage alone.

      Sometimes there are only bad choices.

  7. Q-FI 11 May 2021

    Another great one here Indeedably. I’m mixed right now, not sure whether to feel sad or happy for you. 20 years is a long marriage. I’ll leave this at, relationships are complicated, or people for that matter. Which I know you already know. We’re always changing, growing or stagnating with life in flux. It’s not easy maintaining long term marriages and sometimes moving on is the right choice. Best of luck, because I love absorbing the topics you write about.

    With your intelligence and depth, you’ll turn out great whichever way the cards fall.

    Your perspective part on FI was spot on. For a newbie, just starting their journey I’d tell them to read that paragraph first and it tells you really all you need to know for the big picture.

    I really enjoyed your honesty and perspective on blog writing. I try to be as honest as I can in my blog, but when it comes down to it, all I’m doing is telling a tale as you point out. My blog isn’t me at all. It’s just one microcosm or facet of a complex person that makes it onto the big screen.

    To end on a positive note, you had me in stiches with “Spouse-FI.” Did you coin that or is it a term? I had never heard that before and it sums up those people so well. I need to start using it. There’s not a lot that gets under my skin, but the stay at home parent being supported by a spouse claiming full retirement on blogs always rubs me the wrong way.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Q-FI. The mixed feelings response is accurate. I felt sad after the conversation, but while thinking about it during a walk along the river the next day, I felt more than a little relieved too.

      Someone much smarter than me coined the Spouse-FI term to describe house husbands who were “kept men”. There is nothing wrong with that arrangement, providing both partners are agreeable, but it is disingenuous to call it early retired. Were it true, then every stay at home parent has attained their FIRE goals.

  8. Pendle Witch 11 May 2021

    Oh dear, Indeedably. You’ve been quiet for a while, presumably digesting the implications of the confrontation. I can only wish you all the best, and hope that everything can be resolved in an amicable fashion that ultimately leads to contentment, however that may be.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Pendle Witch, that’s very kind.

      Writing about this took a few goes, the process helps me think things through in a structured way and requires me to take my time and consider the angles.

      I didn’t want it to come across as angry, because I’m not, more resigned. I also didn’t want to play the victim, as I’m not that either.

      When I thought about it, looking past the emotional delivery, what my lady wife is ultimately seeking is the traditional provider role played by husbands and fathers since the beginning of time.

      Which is new for her, and jarringly inconsistent with her desire for independence, but I suspect she couldn’t see any other way of making her conflicting dreams come true.

      Is simply a case of wanting her cake and eating it too.

      We will see how things play out. The following morning there was no mention of the previous night’s rant. But my phone has been ringing off the hook from recruiters who had “heard on the grapevine” that I was in the market for a permanent job.

  9. Bernie 11 May 2021

    That wasn’t how I imagined it playing out in my mind as my thoughts skipped ahead of what I was reading. Indeedably I have nothing wise to offer I’m afraid but I hope your ok. I feel privileged that you’ve shared this and wish you all the best of luck with finding a path through.

  10. The bludger 11 May 2021

    This is indeed one of the most important blog posts I’ve read. Entrapped husbands is not something heard in the media, but in the closed private chats with friends and coworkers comes up very often. 

    “ My cash flowing investment portfolio would be liquidated. The proceeds used to purchase her cash consuming dream house. That way I couldn’t backslide”

    Wow. Never had I considered a trophy house was a conscious decision to enslave another. But now I see it’s the perfect weapon.

    This post reminds me of a coworker who was kicked from his house for his wife’s girlfriend. Shamed, he gave her everything, but that wasn’t enough. She refused to work and collected child support for her three children for another 12 years. I got a call from him last month to find out he was finally in a good place. Tiny unit, living in small but has some breathing room having escaped child support. Between the diverse and now found himself in another demanding relationship where his torture continued with a failed business, heart attack(s), demeaning bosses, depression and bankruptcy. 

    I too have had this moment of freedom swapping. Six years ago before I knew of FIRE I hatched a partial escape. Going to four days a week. I had some discussions with my boss and it looked positive. But before I could execute three-day weekend freedom, my wife a career change. She would quit, study and get a more meaningful career. It was not optional and well thought out. My less considered plans were shelved, and hers were enacted. Lucky for me I had never tasted freedom and only years later discovering FIRE did I taste some bitterness. She followed her plan exactly and now she is working part time and she is quite happy. I’m proud of her but pay is small and not enough for me to quit or fully enact a career change myself. But I have no regrets. I just wish I could come up with these cunning escape plans myself. 😉

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 11 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Bludger.

      I think every couple’s circumstances and financial arrangements are different. There is always give and take, inevitably one doing more giving and one more taking. Whether that becomes a problem comes down to perspectives and priorities.

      For example, becoming a mother often incurs a huge opportunity cost in terms of lost earnings, career advancement, and pension contributions. Time and compounding that can never be recovered.

      This aspect of parenting is rarely discussed, but all too real to those who experience it. It isn’t fair, but it is real life. Has the mother entrapped the father into being the breadwinner and provider? I’m not so sure, occasionally perhaps, but I see it as being more like teamwork. Which means divorce disproportionately impacts the stay at home parent, perhaps partially explaining your coworker’s unfortunate outcome.

      In many households, the person who controls the money makes the decisions. So I’m told at least! 😉

  11. Mr. Fate 12 May 2021

    Very sorry to hear of this situation and a bit surprised even with the foreshadowing in prior articles. You’re an intelligent and measured mind, so I’m certain things will turn out best in the long term.

    A friend of mine stated one should always ask oneself, “Is the life I’m leading the one I actually want?” and “If my current life we’re to end (figuratively) would I feel as if the weight of the world fell from my shoulders?” If the answers are “No” and “Yes” respectively, then it’s time for change. Even if it means a short period of agony and discomfiture. My experience is that he is correct.

    Perspective is always an interesting notion and you’re correct in that the one who carries the pen defines the narrative.

    “Spouse FI” – Fucking brilliant!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Mr. Fate.

      Your friend has an interesting perspective. I wonder how many people can honestly claim to be leading the life they want? Human nature is to yearn for more/better/different, the grass is always greener. Very few people are content to accept their lot in life.

      As to the weight of the world falling from shoulders after a change, I suspect that is temporarily true for many, but check back 6-12 months later and most of us will have found new frustrations and stresses to replace those left behind. Also human nature!

      Does that mean we stop trying to enhance, tune, or optimise? No. But it does mean we are forever works-in-progress and unlikely to ever be the finished article. Contentment is a moving target, as we adapt and grow we seek out fresh stimuli and new challenges. The alternative is stagnation, feeling “stuck“, or possibly boredom.

      Which explains why the self-help industry is a perpetual money making machine, much like dieting and fitness. Driven more by fads and fashion, treating symptoms rather than addressing the underlying causes.

  12. MonkeysOnARock 12 May 2021

    Sorry to hear about this – I’ve always enjoyed the variety and independence of thought in your posts, and I hope you continue to blog as and when you feel you have the time and energy.

    As someone who’s been through parents divorcing when I was a teenager, the thing which mattered most to me was whether I felt that I could still trust each parent – suffice to say that one parent spectacularly flunked that test and it’s very hard to come back from that once trust is broken. That obviously doesn’t mean airing lots of dirty laundry in front of the kids or that they need to agree with you, but it does mean a basic level of honesty about what’s going on and why (as you see it). I suspect you’d see that as a given and it sounds like your kids are pretty perceptive to begin with, but thought I’d share it in the spirit of giving perspectives on things.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experience MonkeysOnARock (great handle, paints a nice Gibraltarian mental image!).

      I absolutely agree, honesty is important, particularly when it comes to kids. I’ve always tried to be straight with mine, raising them to call bullshit when they hear it. When they’ve been too young for gory details, the direction of travel has sufficed.

      They don’t feel like the rope in a tug-o-war, nor get asked to choose sides.

  13. Dr FIRE 12 May 2021

    Damn, Indeedably. Even though you’ve been hinting at a coming storm in recent articles, the twist still caught me off guard. I’m sorry to hear about it, and hope you can find an arrangement that (eventually?) works for everyone involved.

  14. weenie 12 May 2021

    Hi indeedably

    This was one twist in the tale I wasn’t expecting when I started reading – sorry to hear you are going through this difficult period and hope something amicable is worked out for the both of you.

    I’ve got a lot on my mind myself but unlike you, I’m struggling to put it in writing, although I know I”m sure I will feel better once I’ve got it off my chest.

    On a lighter note – Spouse-FI, love it! Where does that fit in among the various types of FIRE? After Barista and Coast-FI?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 12 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Weenie. Sorry to hear you are struggling, hope you find a workable way out of what troubles you soon.

      I’m not sure about other writers, but I find the act of writing helpful. Gets the thoughts out of my head, and requires me to work through things in a structured way. Doesn’t always yield an answer, but I usually find the experience worthwhile. That said, not everything written gets published, which is ok as I am writing for myself rather than an audience. Works for me, but you do whatever works for you.

      I think Spouse-FI probably comes after Parent-FI and Benefits-FI, but following a different ark to the better known lean/barista/coast/fat varieties.

  15. Koalabear 13 May 2021

    40s can be rough. Peri menopausal anger perhaps? When you’ve just had enough. Surely you can meet halfway? OK perhaps simplistic thinking…

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 13 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Koalabear.

      There are plenty of potential causes of the anger, the majority of those aren’t biological.

      I’m considering all the options, haven’t ruled anything in or out just yet. The career change we can afford with some tweaking of asset allocations. The chosen location of a dream house is another matter.

      So the question becomes is the house worth more than the marriage to my lady wife?

      And similarly, is my current state of financial independence worth more to me than remaining married?

      It shouldn’t have to be an either/or choice, so attempting to deescalate things is a logical next step. Home ownership at a lower price point is an option. So too is continuing to rent in the dream location. Just not her preferred option!

      Of course, the default choice is always to do nothing. Initiate no changes and make no big decisions. Hunker down. Try to weather the storm. An approach favoured by governments and large organisations since time began!

      • Mikinski 15 May 2021

        Hello,

        you can indeed liquidate your existing capital and assets and go along with all the unreasonable demands made of you by your wife. After you do, she will feel no different towards you, as her worldview (and spite for you) will have been validated.

        She may eventually divorce you anyway, for the same reasons that she is making these demands now. Or even worse, not divorce you and keep piling on the demands, while resenting you for everything you do.

        Her financial ideas may be even entirely cynical already: if she is a non-working spouse, she may be entitled to more assets in a divorce and ongoing support from you after.

        Someone made a comment about children being able to trust their parents, and how their relationship for life builds from this. Being a children of divorced parents myself, I endorse this fully: one of my parents I despise, the other I appreciate, both for the behaviours they have displayed all my life.

        Under duress, behave ethically and don’t fight dirty. Work out and strive for your own long-term goal of stability and contentment – figure out and build for the life you want and provide emotional safety for the kids in the short and long term.

        You will reap the rewards in reduced stress for life and the enduring love and respect of your children.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 15 May 2021 — Post author

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mikinski.

          It has been my experience that regardless of how demands or ultimatums are presented, there is rarely only a simple binary choice. Usually there is a third way (and a fourth, and so on), if only we step back and take the time to do the thinking.

          I fully agree with your observations about the perceptive nature of children, and there being long term consequences for our behaviours. My elder son has expressed concern and dismay at the way manipulation gets deployed. The younger one objects to the selective use of the truth.

          Any there lies the core of the dilemma. Monetary matters aside, the right thing for me may not be the right thing for them. Separation may well defuse tensions, but it also leaves them without someone to fight their corner or run interference at least part of the time. Survivable, but requiring a lot of growing up very quickly.

          • Mikinski 15 May 2021

            If you think you should stay married to protect your children from unethical behaviour by your wife, the problem is not primarily financial in nature.

            Could you expect to get full or primary custody in the event of a divorce? Would you want to, and could you afford to live? What would the kids think of this idea?

            If feasible, could this potentially be a course of action worth ‘paying’ a lot for in a divorce settlement?

            I really feel for you – we can do everything ‘right’ in life, behave fairly, be responsible and kind, and we still have to deal with problems like these when others very close to us do not do the same, or don’t see any value in us.

            In the short term, try to behave with integrity as you resolve the crisis to whatever outcome – do your best. This is always good enough and leaves you at peace with yourself – you can accept any outcome.

            For the long term, have a lifestyle goal in mind and work towards this – how and where do you want to live? Don’t compromise on the things you really should not, like your future chances at happiness or your financial and personal safety. No matter what agreement you may reach now, you may have to cut losses at some point anyway if you are dealing with someone not operating in good faith and lacking basic respect for you.

            Your relationship with your kids may be your most important long-term asset – their liking and respect for you will mean more and more as life goes on, as they will want to keep in touch and involve you.

            Of my parents, the one who behaved constructively and fairly got over the divorce quite quickly and holds no ill will. The one who lied, gaslit and connived is still spiteful and bitter 40 years later, and has been a terrible drag to put up with.

            Sorry about the wall of text from a stranger. Keep safe, and look to the long term.

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 15 May 2021 — Post author

              Few problems are ever primarily financial in nature. Misaligned hopes and unfulfilled expectations sit behind most disagreements.

              The future is unknown. An amicable uncoupling? Or lawyers at dawn for a drawn-out smack-down battle of mutually assured destruction? Better the devil I know, or roll the dice and take my chances? What would the impact be? How large the blast radius?

              As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that rules only apply to those who choose to be bound by them. Ethics, honesty, morals, and conduct have all become lifestyle choices. We each choose whether we wish to play, and how we are willing to win. Some do the right thing in public and something else when they think nobody is watching. Others were raised better than that.

              You’re exactly right about looking out for the kids… they’ll be the ones who choose my nursing home one day!

  16. KB 13 May 2021

    Thank you for such a well written perspective that does paint a very real picture infrequently exposed. That having been said, I’m saddened to read of your struggles. Not easy. I will only add that in my own story, I grew up the daughter of an alcoholic parent who was fortunate enough to have a courageous mother that removed the alcoholic presence during my teenage years. Our house went from one of rage and anger to quiet and calm. I had 3 years of this normalcy before heading off to college. And while I needed to work through my own issues with rage, having had these behaviors modeled for me for years, I am eternally grateful to her for what she did.

    I only say this, not to accuse your lady wife of alcoholism, but the typical diatribe and complaints sounds reminiscent of many evening arguments in my childhood home. And as a child witnessing this, my happiness and growth benefited tremendously from the removal of this trigger from the house.

    I truly wish you the best of luck. My mother blossomed as a person, becoming a highly sought after website designer, and gained immense respect from her now separated husband-the impacts of this change in relationship were profound. She also learned to invest in the stock market and has since built a substantial portfolio from the share dedicated to her post-separation. All of which is to say that it sounds as though the unhappiness in your lady wife may run deeper than just financial support…

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 13 May 2021 — Post author

      Wow, sounds like your mother is one very impressive lady there KB. Thanks for sharing your story. It is heartening to hear that everything worked out in the end for you both.

  17. HariSeldon 13 May 2021

    Curious about the desire for a dream house, lifestyle etc, I found that the desire diminishes dramatically when you have the means to pay for it.

    Having had a period when everything was purchased with debt in my early 20’s, when in a hole what’s another shovel deeper… a situation arose that my debt was replaced with a couple of thousand pounds.

    When you can easily buy something you merely desire, you start to think about the need it fulfils or satisfaction that it will provide when you have ownership…. Unfulfilled desire is a much better daydream 😀

    The trend continues in FI that lifestyle inflation has been much lower than wealth accumulation and the need to impress diminishes inversely to wealth accumulation.

    Divergent ambitions are not good bed fellows.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 14 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Hari.

      You tale describes a familiar pattern. When we’re young, just starting out, we have little money yet find ourselves wanting to deck ourselves out in a work wardrobe and possibly kit out our first residence after moving out of home. Toys, trinkets, as well as practical necessities.

      Later, it often happens again when we buy a house. Cash all gone on transaction fees, mortgaged up to our eyeballs, yet suddenly needing furniture, fixtures, and commencing on that endless decoration/renovation adventure.

      Eventually we might dig ourselves out of that self-imposed financial hole, and perhaps commence the climb towards financial independence.

      In our case, we have long been in the fortuitous position of being able to afford to satisfy pretty much all our wants. The dream house may represent the one thing that remains out of reach. It is possible she sees it as a trophy of sorts, representing the high tide mark on her career before consciously choosing to prioritise fulfilment over salary. Or it could simply be that she loves living in our current neighbourhood, and is conscious of the ever climbing house prices that seemingly put home ownership further out of reach with every passing year.

      You’re correct indeed about divergent ambitions. Not all journeys that start out at the same point conclude at the same destination.

  18. BeardyBillionaireBloke 15 May 2021

    Bit awkward that.

    a case where the wife leaves the marriage with all, or almost all the liquid capital, then says she needs maintenance for another 50 years

    There are financial advantages to my not having had a date in 20 years!

  19. Malcolm 15 May 2021

    Sorry to read all that . Does your wife read this blog?
    Coming near the end of my game plan -still married-52 years
    Lucky?
    Men and women,kids and careers and how to balance them always fascinated me-impossible compromises required
    How do you cope with those irresistible forces and immovable objects?
    There are societal rules for success arrived at over many years but holding course is so hard
    Life deals so many life changing scenarios along the way
    Personally I would focus as much as possible on the upsides
    Take care of kids-they need their chance at the game with as good conditions as possible
    Take care of the money-negotiating these hard times is bad enough without money worries
    Good luck
    xxd09

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 15 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Malcolm, much appreciated. Congratulations on the 52 years, that is an admirable achievement.

      Money only becomes a worry if my lady wife’s plan gets enacted. That would mean joining the ranks of those poor wretches who are house poor, forever kicking the can down the road by refinancing their mortgage, and condemned to work until they drop. Running fast just to stand still, bricking themselves that interest rates will rise or the market value of their skills will fall.

      But they do probably have a nice house, which may or may not make those trade offs worthwhile. Perspective yet again!

      Does your wife read this blog?

      Lol, now that would be a very interesting conversation!

      But no, a secret identity only remains secret when nobody else knows it. Just look at how much grief breaking that rule gives to Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, better to remain more like Satoshi Nakamoto. Three years of sitting at the kitchen table, exploring my thoughts via a keyboard, and I don’t think there has been a single day where my lady wife expressed even the slightest interest about what I might be tinkering with on the computer.

      • fatbritabroad 15 May 2021

        Sorry to hear this indeedably and as a child of a bitter divorce I can definitely say it’s often a matter of perspective. In my case my mother was the wronged party initially in my eyes with my mostly absent workaholic dad and her having separated a number of times and him having several affairs. The whole situation made worse by her having a chronic illness in the later years of the marriage . The selfish man reneging on the ‘in sickness and in health’ vows. I detested him

        Fast forward to when they actually divorced when I was 20 and with the blinkers of youth removed I’ve realised what an emotionally manipulative and fantasist person my mum is. She has literally rewritten entire blocks of her life in her head and several situations she talks about now I have found out are utter rubbish from independent parties.

        Yes Ill and that is terrible but also unwilling or unable to help herself. Unable to deal with day to day life she makes herself a victim and blames everyone else for her mostly self inflicted woes. still blaming my father 20 years later . Moving from bad relationship to bad relationship then expecting me to dig her out of the latest mess she’s got herself in as she’s done most of her life. First her own father then her husband now me though I’m careful to limit how much I get involved now emotionally and financially as it would never end .

        I find myself with much of the same frustrations he must have felt. We can’t communicate mum and I as we don’t seem to talk the same language. In fact she doesn’t seem to inhabit the same planet as me

        I now have a far closer relationship with my father despite him living thousands of miles away and mum living round the corner. I am left with an obligation to her but little in the way of a relationship which is sad as we were close when I was growing up as my dad was often absent due to a high flying career. He’s a difficult man with black and white views but has always been there for me and is much warmer emotionally than I recall when I was younger. Has he changed since the divorce or was he always ike this and is this my different perspective now I’m older?

        I don’t condone his infidelity, but now realise he was probably running from the guilt of potentially leaving the sick mother of his child that he no longer loved and so found it easier to fund her while building a happier life elsewhere. He continues to pay the financial price for that mistake 20 years later (despite the fact that he hasn’t lived In the country for years and could have reneged on the spousal support long ago but knowing it would fall on me if he did as my mum is awful with money )
        I hope whatever happens your children try not to take sides. If it does get bitter and they are of an age move them out into their own places. that’s what I did and was the best thing I could have done though at the time I felt like I was abandoning my mum at the worst time

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 15 May 2021 — Post author

          Wow, that is quite a story fatbritabroad!

          I’m glad things improved for your father in his later years, and sorry you’ve found yourself inheriting the responsibility of rescuing your mother from her own worst instincts.

          The revisionist history observation sounds familiar.

  20. Malcolm 15 May 2021

    Trying to be some help in a very tough situation……..
    As an old man with some life experience I found out fairly soon that ascribing blame in couple’s difficulties was impossible
    No outsider can tell what goes on between two people
    I stay absolutely neutral as the best way to be of some assistance
    Both are usually equally at fault
    Outsiders should be rooting for both the people involved as in the end it is only they that can resolve the troubled situation
    All very sad especially if kids are involved as they can suffer terribly
    Wishing you both all the luck in the world
    xxd09

  21. Donna 16 May 2021

    Please forgive my oversimplification of matters, but why not use your savings towards a deposit and get a mortgage? You now have a firm job offer and if this is what it takes to keep the family together, why not do it? Separating from the mother of your children will be traumatic for all of you and a mortgage seems an acceptable compromise to make. At least from outside in.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 16 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Donna, that is certainly one possible outcome.

      There is a trade-off. My current semi-retired lifestyle is sustainably possible due to free cash flows generated by my investment portfolio. Each £1 of that portfolio that I sell down is £1 that is no longer generating capital gains nor dividends/interest/rental income. Which in turn means my having to work slightly longer each year as a consequence.

      Sell down enough, and that semi-retired lifestyle ceases to be sustainable.

      That investment income is what allows us to afford to live in the dream house location today, just as tenants rather than owner occupiers.

      My lady wife is very conservative when it comes to money, which in turn means that any mortgage would require a low loan-to-valuation ratio, else she worry herself into a pattern of migraines, sleeplessness, and stress related health issues catastrophising about all the bad things that might happen (redundancy, disability, etc).

      Managing that risk aversion demands a larger deposit, which requires a larger sell down.

      Nothing new or controversial there, this is the financial balancing act any family needs to work their way through when evaluating whether home ownership makes sense for them, and how much home that might be.

      Where things get complicated is the purchase price for a dream house, in the region of 15x maximum potential earnings. Combine that with a simultaneous reduction in my lady wife’s own earnings, and it would require an eye watering deposit followed by 15-25 years hoping mortgage interest rates don’t rise and refinancing remains possible as retirement age rapidly approaches.

      I’m in favour of home ownership as a lifestyle choice. Indeed, we’ve owned our own home several times in the past. Just not so much home that it removes all other options, and eliminates the financial safety net we’ve worked hard to construct over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, that dream house location (and attached price tag) is non-negotiable.

      The debate isn’t really about money, it is about control.

      • Donna 16 May 2021

        Control is an illusion we all cling to. And having time is, at least in my experience, only great if you have peace of mind and not going through a divorce. Maybe the compromise is to get a house in a more affordable location and this way both parties give something up. I know changing schools will then disrupt the children, but less than their parents splitting up. I wish you both the very best. I love reading your blog and it has inspired me to write and get my articles published.

  22. ermine 16 May 2021

    I feel for you. You are a bright fellow and hopefully will work a way through this, but I wish you and all concern the very best whatever you choose to do!

    I am in awe of your amazing narrative development in this post, in the face of adversity!

  23. canadiangf 17 May 2021

    This hit two different and dissimilar old wounds, as I grew up thinking it was very important to marry an ambitious man to supply the “backup” money in case my own career plans didn’t work out but also experienced a fair amount of domestic terrorism when (early in adult life) I did.

    As any rational person can see how very unfair Lady Wife’s demands are–and also how awful her job–it occurs to me that her job has literally rendered her mentally ill and she needs to both quit and seek psychotherapy.

    No woman is entitled to a luxurious lifestyle—but so many of us grow up thinking we are. Psychotherapy can help a woman re-examine her belief that SHE is entitled to the Dream House (etc.) at her husband’s expense when over a third of the world’s population lives on maybe £6 a day. Luxury goods cannot fill a bottomless hole of material desires; only giving them up can do that. If I were in your shoes, I would leave books about stoicism around the house.

    Speaking as a woman with her own “entitlement” issues, it must be terrible to be LW; she needs professional help (which I have sought myself, so this is not meant as an insult), not unearned money.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 17 May 2021 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences canadiangf. I wish you every success as you navigate examining and reforming some of your own beliefs, no small task.

      You raise some very challenging questions.

      I agree the current job hasn’t done my lady wife any favours. She chased the big career and bigger money, unfortunately it comes with high expectations and a very demanding set of stakeholders. I’m not sure that makes her mentally ill, or just burnt out, the difference may simply be semantics.

      Therapy is a bit like addiction, treatment only stands a chance of success for those who are open to it and willing to make the necessary changes. It can’t be done to them, nor just with them along for the ride, but rather must be done by them. Consciously sought out.

      First step is admitting there is a problem, which in this case is a matter of perspective!

  24. FI-FireFighter 19 May 2021

    Nothing to add that hasn’t already been said, Best Wishes mate.

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