Is your marriage ready for retirement?
When one or both of your retire from the dynamic of the relationship, there around bound to be some difficulties to overcome. Of course, one of the more pressing difficulties is realising that you’ll be spending more time together. How prepared are you for this? Are you even prepared for it?
So many couples are prepared financially for their retirement, but most are not prepared psychology for it. It’s common, even in solid long-term relationships, for couples to have different ideas of what retirement means to them. In fact, these perceptions can be worlds apart in some cases.
Jack and Marie’s Story
There is one couple I knew who had a very strong relationship but had major problems when the husband had the opportunity to take an early retirement. Their names have been changed to protect them. For argument’s sake, we’ll call them Jack and Marie. Jack had plans to do a lot of traveling with Marie during retirement, spending more time together.
Marie, on the other hand, wasn’t done quite yet with work. She enjoyed her job and the people she worked with. Her social network was tied around her job, and she enjoyed spending time away from work with her co-workers. When her home became an empty nest, she built a life for herself that she enjoyed and felt comfortable in.
When Jack retired, he slowly lost touch with his social network and didn’t build a new one. He was envious of Marie and her social activities. This led to more and more arguments between them, as Jack was trying to get Marie to spend more time with him and even suggested multiple times that she retire.
A lack of communication
Jack and Marie still loved and respected one another however the dynamic of their relationship had changed because of his retirement. What was missing from this relationship and is common in retiring couples is a lack of communication and understanding about what retirement means for both parties.
It’s important to understand that couples often have different priorities and attitudes about retirements, and for the health of the relationship, both parties must communicate and understand them. For the relationship to survive after retirement, it’s imperative that is some understanding of how much time you want to spend together and the fact that you have different hobbies and pastimes that you want to pursue.
It’s healthy for a couple to spend time apart from each other in a relationship, and doing so doesn’t mean you don’t love or respect one another. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Why Are “Grey Divorce” Rates Rising?
“Grey divorce” rates are on the rise where other categories are falling. In a 2017 report, from the Office of National Statistics, the UK’s overall divorce rate has fallen marginally apart from one group – the over 65 group, which has seen a rise in the number of divorces. The same thing is occurring the United States, where the over 50s group is divorcing at a higher rate. Why are more people deciding to divorce now, even after years of divorce?
There are several reasons for this:
- You’re not really friends and no longer have meaningful conversations.
- You live under the same roof but rarely speak to each other.
- You don’t have any shared interests, and you tend to argue more often than not.
- You stayed together because of the children, and they are your only commonality.
- You don’t have an interest in sex with each other.
- There is no trust between you.
- Women, as they get older, tend to become more independent.
- Retired men learn they are strangers in their own home.
More time together than ever before?
The most emotional point on the list is the one where you’re no longer friends, as this will place a huge strain on the relationship. In retirement, you are “forced” to spend more time together – more so than any other time in your life, most likely. If there are present communication issues, these issues are only going to be exacerbated in retirement.
That’s not saying you need to spend all your time together, as that’s just as unhealthy. However, you’re going to see your partner more often, and if communication is a problem now, the problem is only going to get worse during retirement. If you don’t address the issue, resentment is going to build until it’s no longer bearable.
The key is not to ignore the problem but get professional help. An outsider’s opinion can help you to rediscover one another and flame the relationship’s fires once more. If this isn’t possible, it may be best to part ways and enjoy the retirement you want. This should be done as amicably as possible to retain some kind of relationship.
How To Psychologically Prepare Yourself For Marriage in Retirement?
Yes, financial planning is important for retirement, but so is relationship planning… if not more so. It can be hard to go into retirement and find that your relationship with your partner falls apart. The psychological impact it can have is tremendous, and it can have a financial one as well if you decide that best thing to do is separate and divorce.
It’s imperative that you understand and face your relationship’s challenges well before you actually retire. This will help prepare you for the challenges you will likely face. How can you do this? You and your partner need to ask yourself the following questions:
- How happy are you in terms of your relationship?
- Is relationship harmony important to you? To your partner?
- Do you and your partner communicate effectively?
- How are major household decisions made in the household?
- Are you and your partner “in sync” with your retirement planning?
- Do you anticipate changes in the relationship during retirement?
The answers to your question will give you some insight into yourself and the relationship itself. They will help guide you to changes that should be made and help you in making informed decisions about the relationship’s future in retirement.
Going back to Jack and Marie’s marriage…
Both had meaningful conversations and listened to what the other wanted in retirement, and they agreed that both wanted to share their retirement experience together as a couple. However, adjustments would need to be made in their lifestyles.
For his part, Jack took a part-time job and widened his social circle by playing golf. Marie decided to partially-retire, working just three days a week. This allowed her to stay connected to her social network and continue doing the job she loved. It also meant the couple could do more traveling and have weekend breaks together.
This retirement marriage compromise came about because they communicated with each other about retirement.
According to Dr Richard P Johnson(Leading gerontologist) There are seven key areas couples nearing retirement needs to consider:
- Communication – Let your partner know that you are listening and trying to understand.
- Privacy – Respect the other’s need for privacy.
- Space – Allow your partner some room to breathe and grow.
- Friendships – Encourage one another to have separate friends.
- Routines – Actively seek separate activities.
- Share – Swap roles in the home and life.
- Appearance – Look after yourself both physically and mentally.
“I will take care of me for you, if you take care of you for me” Jim Rohn
Going into retirement with relationship harmony is a key part of a successful retirement. You need to take all the steps you can to strengthen your relationship before entering this phase of life. If you fail to do this, you’ll have a heavy burden that could become unbearable. Adaptability and flexibility are necessary to a successful retirement relationship.