Preparing for the Impact of Retirement On Your Relationship

Many couples look forward to retirement, believing it will result in more time for travel, hobbies, and family visits. While most retiring couples adjust to this new life stage relatively quickly, they may not always anticipate how retirement may change their relationship. Even couples with a happy marriage can experience bumps on the road to retirement bliss.

Many retirees only prepare financially for retirement and don't know how it can affect their lives emotionally. No matter how good or bad a change is, it makes you uncomfortable. It can make you feel bad in ways you might not know about ahead of time. This can come as a surprise. And most people can't get ready for a big change in their lives in a day, a week, or a month. So, the best thing to do is start getting your mind ready 1–5 years before you retire.

Research shows that several different factors can affect life for couples after retirement. These include:

Timing. 

Deciding when to retire and who retires first can have important consequences for couples. Research shows that if one spouse retires too early, it can lead to feelings of resentment and regret. Couples who retire at the same time tend to adjust to retirement smoothly.

Retirement Goals. 

It can be a problem if one spouse wants to travel and the other wants to stay home and garden. Couples need to discuss their retirement goals and find a way to determine a plan that both are happy with. Negotiation and compromise are necessary.

Household Chores. 

Research shows that deciding who does what around the house can be very important to a couple’s happiness. Some people may resent that their newly retired partner is not doing more around the house, while others may resent having their partner invading their territory. Again, negotiation and compromise will be necessary.

These tips can help couples prepare for retirement:

Communicate Openly. 

Couples make a big mistake when they don't discuss what they want from retirement. Many couples think they have the same idea of what life will be like when they retire, but they have never discussed it. Because you are no longer on the same page, this can lead to disappointment, fights, friction, and sometimes even divorce. It's important to talk about your retirement hopes, dreams, and plans with each other. Tell each other what you want so you can plan activities together when you retire.

Talk About How You’re Handling Things At Home.

You should also talk to your partner about handling things at home. When you retire, the change can be hard, and your role will change. So, you should talk about handling time alone, time with each other, and chores around the house. If you're the only one retiring, your spouse might need to get used to seeing you around the house more. And makes them feel like you're in their space. Or wants you to do more housework than you thought you would. Talk to each other and find ways to reach a middle ground.

Visualize Your Retirement.

Think about the things you've always wished you could do. You can imagine yourself on your deathbed and ask, "What would I regret not doing in my life?" If you've found the answer, congrats! You now know what your life goal or dream is. Or, think with your spouse about all the things you could do when you retire.

You can make a vision board or mood board for your retirement to make it easier to see and talk about. Make arts and crafts at home or use Pinterest to make a digital board. Making a bucket list also helps you think about your goals.

Set Boundaries. 

A critical issue for many couples is establishing a balance between separateness (private time, personal hobbies, and time with friends) and togetherness (joint activities, intimacy, and socializing as a couple). Setting boundaries to protect personal and couple time also provides a sense of structure and control.

Prepare for the Loss of the Work Role.

In western society, what you do is often considered more important than who you are. People who have dedicated their entire time and attention to their careers may find it challenging to rediscover themselves in retirement. Additionally, it will be easier for other people who know their qualities, ideals, and other traits outside of the workplace. Work loss can lead to depression, a sense of having no purpose, and loss of identity in one or both spouses. 

Designate Household Tasks. 

Rather than just assuming that old patterns for managing household chores will continue or that new changes will occur, couples need to discuss it and decide on a mutually satisfactory course of action.

Find a New Purpose In Life.

Your life purpose is made up of the most important things in your life that make you want to get up in the morning. Purpose can help you make decisions, change how you act, set goals, give you a sense of direction, and give your life meaning. Your purpose might be clear to you, or you might need to do some digging to find it. When you know what you want to do in retirement, it's much easier to change. Find your purpose by following your passion, which will lead you to your purpose. What gets you excited in the morning and makes you want to get out of bed? What does your heart want you to do?

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