Not On the Same Page

For a couple to experience long-term success in marriage, it’s critical that they share similar DSC_0088values and goals about the important things in life.  John and I are the quintessential example of how opposites can co-exist as long as their views on money, religion, child rearing, and sex are compatible.  Of those four areas, money has been the biggest challenge for us, but we have worked through most of our issues and arrived at a mutually acceptable place.  At least that’s where I thought we were until John retired.  For the last two years, it has become increasingly obvious that we are not on the same page.

Our original problems with money stemmed from a crushing lack of the stuff along with our very different family experiences.  My dad always worked a regular job with a regular paycheck, and that made it very easy to handle our finances.  Outgo could never exceed income.  Period!  Also factored into the equation that defined my childhood experience was my dad’s life as a child of the Great Depression.  Growing up in those difficult times instilled in him an aversion to debt that almost defied logic.  Conversely, John grew up in a farm family where everyone owed money on the farm and borrowing money to put out a crop was the norm for most people.  You paid it back when you harvested the crop or you paid the interest if the crop failed, renewed the loan, and hoped the next year would be better.  It’s not surprising that finances would be the source of many heated debates in the early years of our marriage.

As the years passed and our incomes increased, the lack of money eased, and we both moved a little more toward the center in our perspectives.  John spent less, and I conceded that every spare nickel we could scrape together didn’t need to go into a CD.  John agreed to a reasonable savings plan, and I agreed to annual vacations and his occasional purchase of toys.  As a result of our plan, John was able to retire two years ago at the age of 57, and that’s when things began to unravel.  At first his constant conversation about spending our retirement money drove me crazy, but then I realized he had moved into a different phase of life.  That’s what you do when you retire.  You talk about how you are going to spend the money you’ve spent a lifetime saving.  Unfortunately, I’m still stuck in working/savings mode.

That realization helped ease the tension a little.  Now that I’m nearing retirement as well, we’ve started having some conversations about travel and purchasing recreational vehicles.  Then he dropped the bombshell that he had a company that specializes in marketing unique rural properties come out to appraise our 75 acres just in case we decided we wanted to sell it and relocate.  We are definitely NOT on the same page.  In fact, I don’t think we are reading the same book!

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