Back in mid-2018, we found a pair of articles that shone a spotlight on a highly important but frequently overlooked aspect of retirement planning: spousal harmony. If you and your spouse have conflicting visions of the what, when and how of retirement, you could be on an emotional collision course. It’s far, far better to have some potentially difficult conversations now than to blindly march on, only to discover after you or your spouse has retired that the two of you had far different visions of what “retirement bliss” would look like. With that in mind, we’re bringing these articles back to your attention here on the AgingOptions blog.
Married Couples Approaching Retirement Have a Challenge Ahead
The first article was this column from the Washington Post. We enjoy reading nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Singletary. Her financial advice covers a wide range of topics, but we think her views on money and aging are highly perceptive and of particular interest to us here at AgingOptions. So we were immediately drawn to this column, in part because the title is a real attention-grabber: it’s called, Can Retirement Ruin Your Marriage?
We have walked alongside thousands of couples, either as clients, seminar guests, radio listeners or personal acquaintances, who have made the journey from “working couple” to “retired couple,” and while this transition is often hugely rewarding, it is seldom easy. Whether both spouses work outside the home or just one, and whether both spouses enter retirement at the same time or at different times, the shift from full time work to retirement demands intentional communication and significant adjustment. It also demands careful and comprehensive planning, the kind that we at AgingOptions call LifePlanning, which is the ideal tool to help couples (and singles) develop the blueprint for a secure and fruitful retirement future. We’ll explain more about LifePlanning in a moment.
Married Couples Approaching Retirement Can Avoid Pitfalls and Frustrations
As we read the Michelle Singletary column, we came upon a link to our second article which first appeared in USNews in March 2018, called “10 Tips to Help Your Marriage Survive Retirement.” Written by retirement author and blogger David Hughes, this article provides some excellent insight for couples eager to embrace their new way of life and avoid some of the pitfalls, frustrations and friction points that a change of work status can easily bring. As Hughes writes, “While you may view retirement as a long-anticipated emancipation from the work world, it is also a period of considerable change and adjustment. If you are married, some of the most profound changes will take place within the context of your relationship with your spouse.”
One big reason for this unanticipated adjustment in retirement is that, when couples are still working, it’s far easier for spouses to avoid dealing with underlying issues and annoying habits that become obvious when that work routine disappears. “For some couples,” Hughes writes, “the fact that they have been drifting apart for years could be masked or ignored because most of their time and attention is devoted to their careers or raising a family. For these couples, suddenly spending more time together may present a reality they aren’t prepared for. They may find that they no longer have as much in common as they did while they were dating and during the early years of their marriage.” But “retirement shock” is hardly limited to couples with difficult marriages. “Even happy, well-adjusted couples will find that many aspects of their relationship will undergo change and require adjustment,” Hughes says. “Not surprisingly, honest discussion and a willingness to compromise and explore new solutions will help you deal with most challenges.”
Ten Helpful Suggestions for Married Couples Approaching Retirement
In the interests of space, we have to summarize the tips from the article, but we encourage you to click on the link to the USNews column and read these for yourself in greater detail. Meanwhile, writes Hughes, “Here are ten suggestions that will help you and your spouse navigate the inevitable changes that will take place when you retire and enable you to better enjoy your remaining years together.”
- Share your visions on what retirement will be like.
- Discuss how much time you will spend together.
- Talk about how your roles and identities will change.
- Renegotiate how you divide household chores.
- Create a new budget and monitor your finances together.
- Pursue some of your own interests and maintain some separate friendships.
- Establish separate territories in your home.
- Get out of the house and put yourself in social situations.
- Treat yourself to date nights.
- Expect an adjustment period after you retire.
A big part of preparing for retirement together involves a wholehearted embrace of the profound changes you’re both about to encounter. “Retirement can be a stressful time when many aspects of your life change at once,” Hughes concludes. “With open communication and awareness of the changes that are taking place, you and your spouse can work together to create a lifestyle that you both enjoy and that meets both of your emotional needs.”
Married Couples – and Singles – Approaching Retirement Need the Right Plan
You may be looking ahead at retirement baffled by all the unknowns you’ll be facing. But you can rest easy, thanks to the expertise of the team at AgingOptions. Even couples with differing views and expectations about their next phase of life can find themselves firmly on the same page once they come to experience the power of LifePlanning, a retirement strategy in which all the critical elements are woven together – unlike piecemeal planning in which nothing is coordinated and huge issues are overlooked until it’s too late. An AgingOptions LifePlan includes a robust financial plan, a solid legal plan, a thorough medical plan, a forward-thinking housing plan, and an effective family plan, all interconnected so you can protect your assets in retirement while avoiding becoming a burden to those you love or being forced against your will into institutional care.
We offer a simple, no-cost way to learn more about LifePlanning. Why not join Rajiv Nagaich for a free LifePlanning Seminar? You can click here for a listing of all currently-scheduled seminars, and then select the one that works best for you by registering online. (We’re happy to assist you by phone if you prefer.) Bring yourself, your spouse, your loved ones and your questions. We assure you, it will change the way you think about retirement planning. It will be a pleasure to meet you soon at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar. And remember, “Age on!”