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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: Husband of 14 years is 6½ years younger than I am. He wants to retire even though his health is good. Although we are financially comfortable and do not need the extra money, I love my job and plan to continue working.

I completely understand his viewpoint: He’s worked hard, can afford it and wants to leave the rat race. On the other hand, the thought of being the main breadwinner, providing his health insurance and just working full time while my younger husband hangs out at the golf course or plays in his workshop really irritates the heck out of me. For reasons I don’t understand, it embarrasses me, it angers me, it makes me think of him as lazy … just a whole lot of negative feelings.

He has every right to retire. Why am I so upset? It has nothing to do with housework.

— Upset

DEAR UPSET: I am at a loss as well, unless it’s just deep indoctrination by a culture that’s way too invested in work.

Or … would his retiring early preclude your doing the same? That would be an easy one. You may love working and still find it hard to know you have to. Sole breadwinners married to homemakers face this as well.

Or … are you female? I.e., is this sexism? The “lazy” tag does seem to be applied freely to men who opt out of work, but not women. If that’s it, then you need to root out the ugly double standard.

If these miss the mark, maybe a good therapist could help you. Treat your feelings as a mystery you need a detective to help you solve.

Or, give readers a crack at it:

Re: Upset: I would chalk it up to plain old jealousy. Not necessarily a bad thing if you can keep your emotions in check. I am constantly jealous of my husband — he makes way more than I do, he can sleep through our 6-month-old crying at night, etc. What I find helpful is to realize each of you just sees things differently and to make sure you’re secure in your worldview.

— Secure

Re: Upset: My spouse retired, while I still work. It has been outstanding for both of us. My spouse is happier, more relaxed and getting so much done for both of us. Win win.

— Winner

Re: Upset: Look at the positives! You can travel and enjoy life with only one set of work-related restrictions. If something needs to be taken care of, you don’t have to take off work. It opens up a lot of alternatives. Did I mention gratitude for being in a strong financial position?

— Positive

Re: Upset: Is it possible these feelings are a stand-in for a fear of change?

— It’s Scary

Re: Upset: My dad retired and my mom continues to work. He took over the lion’s share of the housework (mom calls him her “houseboy,” lovingly), and it’s worked great. Dad no longer works at his soul-sucking job, and my mom is relieved of the “second shift.”

— Anonymous

Re: Upset: Maybe her subconscious is concerned about the optics. Supporting a younger man?

— Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: Then her subconscious needs some leopard pants and a cocktail. Sheesh. Thanks everybody.