The weekend's Wall Street Journal has an article on the increasing trend of "gray divorce". The number of divorces overall is falling steadily, but the group among which it has increased significantly is those who are over 50, for whom the divorce rate has doubled in the last 20 years. What can one say? The baby boomers are bad news.
If that last sentence isn't a dead give away, my main reaction to this kind of thing is a kind of sullen resentment, unbecoming though that may be. I recall when my mother used to come back from her quilting group, which was heavily populated with women in their mid sixties who complained about how onerous it was to have their newly retired husbands around the house all the time. "I wish he'd just go find something to do," they'd complain. "I don't want to see him that much."
This recitation would invariably end with my parents' gazes meeting. "I'll enjoy it when you retire," Mom would say. "I couldn't have you around too much."
As it happens, that was not to be. My father's retirement papers finished processing a few days after his death from cancer at the age of 57.
Irrationally, I can't help seeing this as some sort of trade: Have a happy marriage, die early. Have a less happy marriage, retire and complain about spending too much time together.
And thus, since there's nothing I would enjoy more than being home all day with MrsDarwin, it's hard to imagine it will ever come to that.
We just finished updating our life insurance -- something we hadn't looked at in six years, at which time we made a lot less and had only three children. Part of what we took into account at this point is that the level of income that I make at this point is not one it would be easy for MrsDarwin to replace without having the time to go back to school for a professional degree and spend a while working up the ladder, something that is not easy to do as the sole provider for five or more children. So now, if I shuffle off this mortal coil in the next twenty years, the insurance company will provide MrsDarwin with enough money to effectively replace my income throughout that period.
I'll be fifty three in twenty years, which even with my half-Irish cynicism seems just enough to be realistic. And having started on life early, we'll likely have progressed to being grandparents by then (as we'll have daughters aged 29, 28 and 26.) But it would likely take another ten years beyond that (if not far more, given the changing age demographics of the country and the economic outlook) to reach the point when I could credibly retire. And that seems a very long and unlikely way.
Still. I can't think of anything better.
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