At last you’ve both retired and hopefully your financial planner has said you can afford it. From here on in, life’s one happy holiday – or is it?
What you probably haven’t been told is that retirement brings a whole range of new challenges that can really test your relationship or marriage.
Retirement ranks up there with getting married and having your first child as a major, major change in our lives. How we handle it depends largely on the relationship we have with our partner and how well prepared we are.
For most couples, this is the first time in their relationship that they have been together consistently 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This can be a traumatic experience for some people.
Unfortunately there is very little emphasis generally given to the emotional aspects of planning your retirement. – it’s mostly about the money. That’s unfortunate because it is really important that you and your partner honestly discuss what you are both looking for in retirement and how you would like to achieve a happy and fulfilling life. You may have quite different ideas.
There are a number of major issues that need to be discussed. Some of the more common ones are – handling change, where to live, travel and recreation, part time work & volunteering, the relationship with each other and family and friends, life’s purpose, health and wellbeing.
Both of you probably need to spend some time away from each other on a regular basis. The many stories about the retired man hanging about the house and getting in the way, are often true. Some men make a point of getting out of the house for a few hours on most days. Whether it’s seeing friends or just going to the library, it avoids the “home every day for lunch” syndrome.
People planning their retirement should realise that this time of your life can present major dangers to your marriage. The relationship you have after retirement will be different to the one you previously experienced. You would be wise to start talking to your partner about what he / she wants from this new time of your life. You may get a nasty shock and it could take some time to negotiate an acceptable compromise.
The danger in not adequately resolving these differences can be very real. People get divorced in their 60s after 30 years of marriage! Not only is this an emotional disaster – it’s also a financial disaster when all of a sudden the retirement nest egg is cut in half.
Don’t wait till your relationship is in trouble. There is plenty of help available. There are a number of experts listed under our “Retirement Planning” category who can help you to plan the non financial aspects of your retirement and work through many of the important issues.
If you are having some trouble adjusting to your new lifestyle, there are also some Counsellors listed under our “Relationships” category, who can help.