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Dear Jido

My husband sold his business two years ago and made enough money to retire. The problem is that he’s only 36. He now spends his time doing mostly leisurely activities: playing sports and video games or hanging out with friends. This seemed fine for the first few months, but I feel like he needs to be more productive. He feels like his early retirement is a well-earned reward and that nothing is wrong with his new lifestyle. How can I convince him to act like a grownup again?


Mrs. Retired

Dear Mrs. Retired,

Retired at the age of 36? Wow, your husband must have smarts, talent and mazalif he was able to accomplish that at such a young age! You might call his trajectory an “American Success” story.

Of course, everyone has their own definition of “success”. For some, it’s all about making money.
For others, it’s about making friends.  Andfor others it means making a difference.

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, says the world stands on three things – Torah, Avodah and
Gemilut Hassadim.

A life of Torah means using every spare moment to delve into the depths of Hashem’s words. Of course, not everyone is cut out to do that.

Avodah, in this context, means prayer and devotion. It also means working hard, L’Shem Shamayim, to support one’s family and community. Your husband obviously accomplished that.

And Gemilut Hassadimmeans giving of yourself to help others; giving back your time, your expertise and your resources, each to the extent that you are able. What a blessing it would be for other young men of our community to benefit from your husband’s experience and to follow in his footsteps.

You are concerned that your husband is not being “productive” right now.  Consider that he did something right in building his business and flipping it for a profit. A person with that level of ability will likely not be satisfied remaining idle for long. He will want, and needto get back to a life of challenge for his own well-being. An agile mind will want to remain active.

It is possible that the last few years building his company were hard and grueling and that is why he considersthis brief respite a well-earned reward. It could also be that, at the same time that your husband is “hanging out,” he is also networking for other business opportunities.

The best way to find out what is really going on inside his mind is to talk to himabout his long-term goals. His answers will likely put you at ease. If not, carefully suggest some valuable short-term activities to him – early morning classes with his peers at Shaare Zion, consulting with the Exceed Network of Bikur Holim or teaching abusiness course in our high schools.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Trust me, your husband knows that.

Keep in touch,