A friend of mine told me recently that her parents, who have been married for close to 50 years, are splitting up. I knew they didn’t have the most ideal marriage, but it surprised me that after sticking it out this long they would put themselves through the trauma of a divorce at this point in their life.
Turns out they’re not alone.
The ‘greying’ of divorce is becoming a new phenomenon around the world. While divorce rates overall are declining, many countries are reporting a startling increase in people getting divorced later in life. In Canada, the divorce rate among those 55+ years has been growing steadily with the numbers expected to continue to climb as more people reach retirement age.
Of course, the reasons for divorce vary, but understanding and addressing the changes your relationship will face in retirement will lessen your odds of becoming one of those statistics. Even a happy pre-retirement marriage can be rocked when one or both of you leave the workforce. If your careers meant you were apart a great deal of the work week, spending 24/7 together in retirement can cause some new tension in your relationship.
Do you know what your partner wants his or her retirement to look like?
Approximately one third of couples disagree on their ideal vision for and the lifestyle they expect to live during retirement, according to a 2013 Fidelity Study. With our busy lives, it’s not surprising these matters often go unacknowledged. Couples, especially those who have been together for years, can make assumptions about each other’s views about retirement – like if, when, where and how they are going to retire.
Understanding each other’s preconceived expectations about what life will look like after you leave the workforce – like how you’ll spend your money, where you’ll retire, how much time you’ll spend together/with family or friends, how will you deal with your changing roles/identities, find meaning and purpose, maintain your health, etc. – is a must for a happy marriage and happy retirement.
After you’ve determined what’s important to you as individuals, you still need to figure how that can best be achieved together. Navigating any differences in expectations can spell the difference between an enjoyable and a challenging retirement. It almost calls for a renegotiation of the marriage contract! Think of it as an opportunity to reconnect with each other and ensure you enjoy what could be another 30+ years together.
If you don’t make the time for these critical conversations before you retire and try to find common ground, one or both of you may end up feeling unfulfilled, bored or even resentful. Find out how to prepare your marriage for retirement with this free guide.
It’s difficult to have these type of conversations with someone else when we haven’t thought through our own perspective. Having a plan for your retirement is essential for a smooth transition from the workforce and to create a happy and meaningful life that follows.
What constitutes your ideal retirement? Is it in sync with your partner’s dreams and goals?