QUESTION: We’ve had some scares over the past two years because of my husband’s health. He had a heart attack and, although he seems to have recovered, he tires easily and doesn’t seem to have the zest he used to have. He is 63 and wants to retire when he is 65. Our children and I are trying to convince him to retire now and enjoy the rest of his life. He loves his job that is also stressful. We believe the stress could shorten his life.
Are we wrong in trying to convince him to take an early retirement? He has many interests outside of his work so he wouldn’t be bored.
~ Loving Family
Dear Loving Family,
This question is a difficult one. I can understand the family wanting the husband/father to take it easy, especially since he has already had one heart attack. But if he likes his job, is it right of you to ask him to quit it? And what if he does quit, and then drops dead six months later? Won’t you feel just a little bit guilty then?
Look, I know there are no guarantees in this life, and it could be that the man in question could work another five years, let alone two, with no ill effects. Here is what I would do: think about a compromise. Tell him, “Dad/Hubby, you know that we love you so much, and we love you so much that we want you to make the choice that you want to make. However, you know that we would prefer your leaving the job now, not when you are 65. So how about this: work until you are 64. That way you don’t have to quit right away, and we don’t have to worry about you for a whole two years! What do you say?”
Give that approach a try. I obviously don’t know the man about whom we are speaking, but there is always the possibility that the guy loves his job more than he loves his family. It is also possible that his “dream” would be to die on the job. It’s a sad truth, but some men have trouble saying their feelings, and it could be that this man would rather die than tell his family he loves them. Also, some knucklehead men think that working yourself to death means that you really do love your family. Anyway, try the compromise approach – but you must let him make the decision. It’s his life to decide how to live it … or to die trying.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman,
Dear Loving Family,
I hear your concern and naturally you want your husband/father present with you for as long as possible, so no, you are not wrong for wanting what you believe will achieve that. It seems though that for men, their work is so much more part of their sense of self and purpose. Your husband’s ability to provide for his family and to contribute at work has been his goal for a lifetime, plus as you say he really enjoys his work. Given all this, transitioning to retired man of leisure demands a major shift in his priorities. Health problems remind us of our mortality and our vulnerability which we would often rather not acknowledge. So while it may be easy for you to imagine how spending time with family and involved in past times would improve your husband’s quality of life and take the stress off, it may in fact feel like the opposite to him. Your husband may fear feeling purposeless. You on the other hand fear his possible loss. So I ask, are you both acting out of fear?
God is love, that’s what we are told, unconditional love. We are each channels for love in the world but we do have the power to let it flow or to block it with fear. So in doing your spiritual work around this issue I advise compassion and honesty. When you can open a conversation without an agenda or demand and in which you can tell him your fears and your family’s fears and be deeply vulnerable, then you are being truly loving and respectful of yourself and your husband. Then you are embodying that unconditional love of God because you give him the freedom to respond in any way he honestly feels. This is the freedom that God gives each of us. And he does not withhold love no matter what we choose to do.
I know we are human, not God, and we want what we want because our ego says this is the best for everyone. But the soul has its own path which we cannot know. And when we truly love someone we allow that soul to travel its own journey. I imagine your husband loves you and his family and will take your concerns into account but his soul purpose is to be true to himself. So love him whatever he chooses and love yourself no matter what he chooses. Just love. This is always the answer.
Joan Doyle – Practitioner and Scalar Heart Mediator
QUESTION: My husband and I are having a disagreement about helping our son with a down payment on a house. Our only other child, a daughter, lost her life in a car accident three years ago. Our son is hard working with three children. He works two jobs so his wife can be home with the little ones.
This is the problem: Although we’re still working, we both have great retirement plans, a stock portfolio and substantial savings. I want to give our son the down payment. My husband wants to lend him the money. I think he deserves to have the money as a gift and we can well afford to do this. It’s not as though giving him the money will put a huge dent in our retirement. Please help us both be reasonable about this situation.
~ Parents At Odds
Dear Parents at Odds,
It is wonderful that you and your husband are looking to take care of your son and his family. It sounds as though the idea of gifting/lending the money for a down payment of a house is not a request from your son, but an idea that was originated by you and your husband. While you are both in agreement with your desire to want give financial support, the terms of that “giving” are what you seem to have you at odds.
There is a general rule of thumb when offering financial support to family members – it is better to gift than lend money. In gifting you have released the money and thereby eliminate all pressures involved with the repayment and the strain that could create in your relationships.
There are also some practical matters all of you may want to consider when looking at the big picture of owning a house. Whether gifting or lending money, it’s best to openly address the new financial responsibilities that come along with owning a home such as whether or not they would be able to afford to pay a mortgage and home upkeep on one income once they own the house.
In the end, there is one question that you and your husband can ask each other that will shed some light on the solution – what would be the purpose for not financially helping out your son and his family? If your husband wants to loan money to your son and his wife rather than gift the money, is it to help them learn about financial responsibility and to get a better grasp of being self-reliant? The very fact that your son is working two jobs and that their family of five is making ends meet on one income is proof that they conduct their lives in a responsible manner.
God’s universe is one of law and order – the Law being one of cause and effect. For every action there is a reaction in accordance with the energy and emotion that initiated it. In truth there is an inexhaustible supply in the world. The only restrictions are the ones that we create by using this Law ineffectively.
Follow your heart. If you can afford to gift the money with love without any expectations other than the desire to see your son and his family succeed then do so. Trust in the goodness that will be generated from the kindness of giving and the contentment and peace that it will produce in your lives. That is worth more than all the money in the world!
Rev. Mary Morgan
Dear Parents At Odds,
It’s unclear from your letter why your husband wants to lend instead of give the money to your son, and I think it’s important to find out why. Does he want to instill financial responsibility in your son? Is your husband just naturally, shall we say, thrifty? Is your husband a “self-made man” and wants your son to be one too? Once you find out his motivation, it’ll be easier to find a good solution.
If your husband leans toward the “self-made man” model, then how about putting conditions on the gift, such as a requirement to make monthly payments into a college or retirement fund for your grandchildren instead of paying back the two of you. This assumes, as you said, that you wouldn’t need the money for your own retirement. Maybe an eventual repayment can start in 10 years or, if starting now, amortized over 40 or 50 years. Alternatively, make the loan interest free. Creative structuring could ease the burden on your son while his children are growing up but still make him pay back the funds in the long run.
Here’s a practical aspect, though, that should be considered. I happen to be a former banker and while I didn’t do many mortgage loans, I have some experience with underwriting. Banks want to make sure that people don’t get too highly leveraged so that the loan repayment isn’t jeopardized. As a result, they often want to find out the source of a down payment. If it’s a loan, it should be reported to them, thereby going into the total debt-to-equity ratio calculation that’s needed to qualify for the loan. A family loan for the down payment might result in higher interest rates for the final mortgage since your son would be seen as a riskier borrower.
To summarize all this, I think it would be prudent for you to look at the affects lending the down payment might have on a new mortgage.
I think it’s admirable that you want to help out your son. We all want our children to be better off than we are. It’s good during this Christmas season to reflect on how much better off we all are by the gift that God made to us.
The Rev. Fr. Kirby Smith