I’m a 65-year-old grandmother living off of my pension and an annuity. My savings account is healthy, and I am a home-owner.
The 68-year-old retiree I’ve been seeing since before the pandemic. His 95-year-old father, who is in poor health (he can’t get around much, doesn’t drive, and shows signs of dementia), is his primary caretaker, and the two live together. Something along the lines of “I moved in with Dad because he needed care” was how it was framed to me.
Let me explain my dilemma: I recommended he find part-time work in the days leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is qualified and in relatively good physical condition. He has given numerous “reasons” for this, and we keep going in circles. I’ve expressed my concern over his money situation to him. As for working, he will say he is “getting by” fine and has no desire to.
He had already begun filling out his TaskRabbit profile before COVID-19 hit. He has now categorically refused to even look.
While I find him to be a loving, patient, and reasonable man, I cannot forgive him for this. They’re going to divide his father’s estate (mostly the house) between him and one of his siblings. This seems like a morbid situation where he is waiting for his father to die.
Meanwhile, he has almost no discretionary income with which to do anything. It baffles me that he doesn’t want to improve his life, given that he is basically poor. He contradicts himself by both claiming to feel guilty about his predicament and flat-out refusing to consider getting a part-time job.
Should I check if my expectations are too high? For your kindness, please accept my gratitude.
Stable Girlfriend in Financial Terms
Your expectation that he find gainful employment is reasonable. To insist that he go out and buy one on your behalf, however, is an unreasonable request. As the old adage goes, “there are no victims, only volunteers,” and you are entering this relationship knowing this to be true.
At least you recognize your boyfriend for who he really is: a considerate and loving partner who takes care of his father, but also a man who prefers a laid-back lifestyle with few obligations and who won’t be coerced into doing work that he considers beneath him, even if all work is beneath him.
Because he has a roof over his head, a family home that will likely pass to him upon the death of his father, and monthly Social Security checks to pay for food, his cable bill, and other bits and pieces, he manages to live within his extremely limited means.
Sadly, he is not the “mad money” type. If you want to spend your retirement traveling to exotic destinations like Hawaii, Europe, or Asia, or even taking a Caribbean cruise, you will have to pay for it yourself (although I am still scratching my head why anyone would want to be trapped on a ship during a global pandemic).
The part of your letter that worries me is where you describe his feelings of shame and inability to do anything about the fact that he is not working. Possible sources of anxiety for him include a fear of being judged inadequate and/or rejected, both of which are universally disliked. But now he’s literally stuck in the mud because of it.
The general population is living longer and healthier lives. A tight labor market, with unemployment at 3.6%, has led to an increase in employers’ recognition of and respect for their older workers.
Employers are beginning to reevaluate their views on hiring older workers as the unemployment rate drops to 3.6%.
According to John Tarnoff, a career transition coach and co-host of the Los Angeles-based livecast “The Second Act Show,” the baby boomer generation is “blowing past this idea of traditional retirement.” Some people have to keep working, while others enjoy having something to do.
Over 1,800 adults were surveyed by the Nationwide Retirement Institute, and the results showed that 42% of U.S. citizens were planning to apply for Social Security benefits while still actively working, an increase from 36% the previous year. Obviously, the gloomy forecast for the economy has contributed to that.
It could help to reassure your boyfriend that he is not alone if you say as much. Millions more people need or desire to maintain employment. Working past the traditional retirement age (66 or 67, depending on your birth year) or relying on a low salary is not something to be ashamed of.
Your boyfriend may qualify for the federal government’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, which assists low-income individuals over the age of 55 in finding gainful employment. He could benefit from therapy to help him overcome his low opinion of himself.
You probably won’t be able to influence your boyfriend, even if he does get a part-time job. That people don’t evolve is a universal truth. They have no choice but to be themselves. You may need to broaden your search to find someone with the means to take you on the adventures you’ve always dreamed of and the wanderlust to match.
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