Have you and your partner had “the talk?” You know; the one where you tell your partner that you’re retiring soon and that you’ll be kicking around the house a whole lot more. A successful conversation will be more likely if you appreciate that your partner might have a different perspective on how this whole retirement thing should unfold.
Before retirement, most couples have a long established pattern of how they typically live and work together. They’re usually pretty clear on the division of household labour, how they spend time together and how they spend time apart. At retirement, those routines are disrupted and suddenly couples are dismayed when they start bumping into each other around the house. Couples, who don’t have a plan to deal with the realities of this new togetherness, may need to re-learn how to be around their spouses so much.
Partners may have different visions of what retirement will look like, when retirement will begin, and how they should allocate their time and financial resources. With all this togetherness, each may feel that the other is cramping their style, and friction can occur if partners do not discuss their new domestic order. Each person’s retirement is a significant life event for him or her as an individual, but one that also has an impact on the marriage. As with many things in life, good communication can help minimize potential issues. Each spouse needs to hear and understand what the other’s goals and perception of retirement might be. It’s usually best to face any differences early on rather than letting them fester and become a larger source of conflict.
What Do You Need To Talk About?
- Expectations on how time will be spent together and apart – “me” and “we” time
- Timing of retirement – will you retire together or at different times?
- Sharing of household responsibilities – will the person usually responsible for household management continue to do so? Will one partner expect more help now that the other is home?
- Social life and relationships within and outside of the family – does one partner have a larger social circle than the other? Do you expect your partner to fulfill all your needs? How much time will be devoted to children/grandchildren?
- Where to live – stay where you are, downsize, move to new location?
- Changing roles and identities – who are each of you becoming?
- How to fulfill meaning and purpose in life – what activities will give meaning to your days
- Reconciling different retirement dreams and goals- Will you both want the same things? What will you do together? Apart?
- Travel and leisure expectations – do you both want to travel? Do you want to go the same places? Will you engage in leisure activities together/apart?
- Finances – are you in agreement about how money will be spent/allocated to different areas of your life?
Retirement can put a real strain on a marriage, but it doesn’t have to! The key to a happy retirement lies in the plan that you create with your partner. Remaining flexible as you both adjust to your new life together will go a long way toward a smooth transition into retirement. Success depends on each partner’s willingness to clearly express expectations, desires and goals for the future. You must be willing to tell your partner when you’re feeling crowded or neglected. Your partner couldn’t read your mind before retirement and won’t likely be any better after it, so brush up on your communication skills and work together to clearly understand each other’s retirement desires. Having a plan in place is the key to creating the retirement of your dreams.