Wednesday, February 10, 2021


 I think that it is the difference in how we were raised. My family was not poor exactly, but we were very limited. I never felt poor, but I knew that I didn't dress like the other kids. I did not have a pass to the local ski slope. We did not take part in activities with other kids. We always had food on the table though. Sometimes my father took a deer out of season to make that happen.

Tim was raised poor. I don't know a lot of the details, but his life was mean. I heard stories from others who were shocked to discover that there was not food despite the fact that his mother canned everything that she could get from her garden and from generous people. His father hunted. They had chickens. But with six kids, that stretches things thin, and some times were more desperate than others. 

When we met, Tim was an extremely quiet fellow. He simply didn't talk. He had been divorced for 8 years and had been alone. I think that made him even quieter. He also didn't think much of himself, which was sad, because he really is a competent fellow. 

We married, and the first years were pretty tumultuous. I'm a pretty plain spoken woman. When his father mocked him in front of his children, Tim sat quietly eating his meal. I spoke to him afterwards. His only response was that his father had always been like that. 

It shocked me a little. In my family, comments like that would have gotten an on the spot response. There would have been raised voices, ultimatums. My family fought a lot, and I hated that. Surely there was a more sensible way to handle things. 

The next time that his parents came to dinner, his father started his nonsense again. I set my fork down and said, "We're trying to make a family here. You will not sit down at my table and eat my food, and speak to the head of this house like that in front of his children. You choose your words carefully because every single time you are disrespectful to my husband, I'm going to call you out on it. EVERY time. I don't care who is sitting there to hear it."

I don't think anyone had ever spoken back to the man before, and he left the house and did not come back for a lot of years. This also pissed off Tim's sisters. Their father was a MINISTER! A man of God! It was blasphemy! Everyone had an opinion. I'd like to say it didn't matter, but it did matter. It mattered a lot. A lot of doors shut during those years. Most of them have not re-opened. 

It is what it is. 

Tim and I have been married for 23 years. It hasn't been all roses, because we are two people who have had hard times and sometimes old ghosts rise up to trouble us. 

Something else that has also happened in those 23 years is that Tim has become an empowered soul. He has learned to put himself out there, to trust his judgement, to do hard things. We have a successful side business and he has taught himself to do many things. His latest thing is changing an old house over to forced air heating, creating the duct work himself, cutting the holes. Next step? He's rewiring the whole house. These are things he's taught himself to do, because it is cheaper that way. Plus he knows that he will do the job right. 

As he gained confidence, something troubling began to happen. He was not satisfied. One house was not enough. Two houses. Three houses. He began selling renovated houses, and spending that money on more houses. It is a lot of work and we do that work together. 

In these last years, we have been debating this issue a lot. Our retirement years are upon us. We have a comfortable nest egg. We have a monthly income. In just one year and 4 months, we'll both be free. We can travel. We can do what we want. Except that what I want and what Tim wants seems poles apart on some days. He sees these retirement years as a chance to really get some work done, really get into the buying and renovating and building a comfortable financial cushion for ourselves. I'm comfortable with what we have. 

We argue about it in our quiet way from time to time. He can reasonably expect to live into his nineties. His family is very long lived. I see life as not guaranteed me, something that occurs to you  quite naturally when you are sitting in a chemo chair for weeks. I don't want to postpone anything, because I feel as if I've been postponing things for all of my life. 

I say to him, very firmly, "Tim, I'm not going to wait. If you are going to keep tying yourself down to projects, I'm going to do the things that I want to do by myself. I'm going to see Cara and Colin. I'm going to Australia to see Sophie and Amanda and their mother, and I'm going to drink wine with them in the wine glasses I bought 8 years ago for that very purpose."

He thinks on it seriously. Some days he seems to believe we have enough. On others days, he seems to think we have to work harder, to take on one more project, to add just a bit more. I understand that extreme poverty marks a person, that he has a determination that never again will life be that hard, but I can't set my life aside until he decides that we're ready.

So I tell him what I am going to do. I make it perfectly clear.  I am, after all, a very plain spoken woman. I wait to see what he is going to do, because in the end, that determines what we are going to do. 


  1. I too am an outspoken woman and married to a man who does not defend himself. He also does not defend me or our children. Pretty much anyone in his family can say whatever they want with no fear of rebuttal. He has a bitch of a sister who along with her creepy husband has spent over 40 years badmouthing and criticizing me for no reason other than "you stole my big brother from me." It is very painful to be on the receiving end of this while he says nothing to defend me. I would NEVER let any family member of mine speak ill of him or to him. It has caused me to lose respect for him.

  2. It's so hard when people want different things. I have this a bit with Dave, who is happy to stay home and putter around the house while I'd rather be out traveling and moving around and exploring and going places. We compromise and it's worked so far, and I guess ultimately that's all you can do -- compromise. It is interesting how some people have that drive to create growth and wealth and some people are happy with what they have. I'm definitely more in the latter camp myself.

  3. Great post Debby. I am getting to the stage if I don't do something soon I will never do it. Sometimes though things get in the way. God looks at our plans and laughs at them😊.

  4. Hello Debby,

    We have just found you in the labyrinth of the Blogosphere and have been captivated by your writing.

    Life has been difficult for you both in many different ways and this post was an extremely thoughtful reflection upon just that. How many of take the time or trouble to really think about things in the way that you have expressed here? Not so many, we would venture to say.

    And, like you, we have experienced the very low point of a life threatening illness. This made us dig deep and to feel that, actually, to have even very little in life is more than enough.And, one must treasure and delight in little things for they do bring joy.

    You will reach a happy conclusion together. 23 years together has taught you that.

  5. Oh Hummingbird. I had to respond to your comment. I understand completely. Two things that make our situation different is that, number one, he has always stood for our children. In his quiet way, he has always defended them when it was required. Number two, I understand that he was raised by an abusive father. (Can you imagine a child being forbidden to speak when his father was around?)

    He was not prepared for the blowback from his family. We were 40 years old when we married. He did not defend me to his family. That bothered me a lot initially. But I had to accept the fact that he is a broken soul really. He can only grow from where he was. He has gotten better. I know that he loves me. I know that I love him. We both understand we are flawed characters, but he will always think that I'm the smartest woman he's ever met. I will always think he's the smartest man I ever met. We are both hard workers. We are both people of integrity. The list goes on. In short, what we have in common carries more weight than the things we cannot agree on.

    His family will always view me as a trouble maker. That's on them. One of them told me, "We prefer his first wife." Such a spiteful thing to say! They aim to sting, but they don't. I'm married to one of their brothers. What matters is what he prefers.

  6. I grew up with a harshly critical and selfish mother who left me with very low self esteem. It is only now in my sixties that I have gained some level of confidence. Families can shape us in our early years, but we can still rise above it.

  7. We certainly can, JayCee. Every time I see your website, it makes me wince. You are NOT 'nobody'. You are SOMEONE. You are certainly a person that I'd be interested in meeting one day! I think that we'd find a lot in common.

  8. Well, thank you Debby. What a lovely thing to say. You have bolstered my confidence even more now!

  9. I find this post very interesting, including the comments. My partner has chosen to keep on working after retirement age and I have not. I was a teacher for over 30 years and some years the only thing that got me through the year was ticking off the years to retirement (Dont get me wrong, I loved teaching but it is a very stressful job.). It still causes “discussions” between us because I want to do stuff and he says he “has to work”. We compromise and he does some things, and then I do some things alone. Sometimes I’m sad because I would like not to do it alone. But, like you, I’m not going to sit around and watch these years go by and regret what I didn’t do. For me, the trade-off of daily life with my dear partner is worth the sometimes loneliness of doing things including travel alone.

  10. I see the same battle that my parents fought. My mom wanted to stop farming and travel more. My dad wanted to just slow down farming. Although they did travel a lot compared to most, mom certainly didn't get everywhere she wanted to see before she died. Now my dad regrets not having listened because now he has the time to do things having given up farming but no one to do them with.

    Not sure if you know, but I'm a Boglehead. I have John Bogle's books and invest my money following his wisdom. Had I not discovered him a decade ago, my world would look a lot different now.

  11. As a single man , I miss compromising
    Now I get my own way all of the time

    Nicely written

  12. I am outspoken too, and my late husband wasn't--although he did challenge his family a few times, leading to an estrangement at the end of his life. That was hard to deal with and has lasted into the lack of relationships we (his daughters and I) have with that side of the family. I have no guilt or regret, but I do have some anger and resentment toward them for their treatment of my late husband and of our family. Compromise is the way to go; I traveled much more than my husband. He didn't like to fly, so it was me flying to Senegal to visit one daughter. I went to Korea to stay with the other one. It worked out OK most of the time. He could be a pain to travel with anyway--not enough for him to do and he never learned to relax. He grew up poor also and work was his security.

  13. Wise words by Heller. My partner is reaching an age where many things are becoming too hard for him and we must never leave things too late, as my mother has.

  14. You are getting that remind from your mother at just the right time then, Andrew.

  15. First of all, I wanted to applaud when I read what you said to your father-in-law. Amen. Good on you for saying and doing the right thing no matter what the fallout was.

    Secondly, I think there's a happy middle to be found in your approach to retirement and your husband's. He could occasionally travel with you, and you could occasionally travel all on your own (with his wholehearted blessing). Nobody gets 100% what they want, but you both get SOME of what you want. There might even be adventures and undiscovered pleasures to traveling on your own, secure in the knowledge that your husband is at home holding down the fort.

    Just some things to think on.

  16. I am more of a content person. I have enough but not by many first world standards. I have always had food and shelter and family and friends. Billions cannot say the same. Most of us have pretty well won life's lottery, whether we get to New Zealand or wherever.

  17. Having something that some will never have, ENOUGH, says it all! I think you were Wise to speak up early to your FIL even tho' the consequences mattered and shut some doors. I've been that way with my In-laws and they know that I am outspoken, especially about protecting my Family and not having anyone running negative interference in our Home/Life. The fact your FIL alleges to be a Man of God makes the verbal abuse all the more tragic. One of the most profound things my own Pastor once told me was a parable about a Man with a Son who could never seem to please him. One day the Son fell in the Mud and to Teach him a Lesson the Father left him there. The Son died in that Mud and as the Father cried out to God, the answer he got was simply this: "What was more important, the Lesson... or The Son?" Sometimes we forget what our priorities should be in Life and have to thus assess them regularly and for each Season of Life, altering them sometimes to meet ourselves and those we Love at our Point of Need. I think you're in your assessment period right now, you and your most Beloved Husband.

  18. We are picking a path. It's a new season of life that we're moving into, and we're figuring out how to negotiate it. Our paths may diverge at times, but they are always parallel.

  19. I understand about your husband living poor, My father was also a minister. My husband said they ate pinto beans for days on end or whatever they could grow or sometimes church people would press a few dollars in his mothers hand to help out. His father thought what ever he said was ok and did not care who go hurt. I did not like the man and we went the last two years of his life with out speaking. Our children did not go see him as soon as they were old enough to stay home alone. He treated his family like dirt and expected them to be his servants. I grew up poor but on a dairy farm so we had enough to eat and I did not know I was poor until later in life. Most of the farm families around us were in the same shape so clothes were handed around to different families as children grew out of them or into them. My mom sewed a lot and made my clothes from feed sacks. I longed for a store bought dress at times. I am glad you have a good life now. Mine was very good until my husband died at 69 in 2015. It seems life ended there for me or at least the happy secure part of it.

  20. Tell him about my husband. We were married for 38 years but after being fit and well for all his life he was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer just a year after taking early retirement and our plans to travel the country came to nothing. He died at age 61 just 2 and a half years after the diagnoses missing out on seeing his grandchildren growing. No one knows whats round the corner.
    Take a chance on doing whatever you want to do as soon as possible


I'm glad you're here!


 It was a day of getting ready to go, getting everything packed up. We are headed east to see Iris' ballet recital.  I picked up some la...