It’s Valentine’s Day so I thought it was a good time to write about couples and love. Not the hearts and flowers kind of love that we see in the cards we’re supposed to give to our sweethearts on this day. Or the diamonds and expensive perfume kind of love, that advertisers pour crazy amounts of money into hoping we’ll buy this month. Or even the sex and fetish kind that seems to be the rage this year thanks to a surprisingly popular S&M book/movie.
I’m talking about the long-lasting, make it through the thick and thin times, go the distance kind of love.
I’ve been married for nearly 37 years. To the same man. When people ask me how you make a marriage last that long, I always say it takes part luck and work. The luck part was choosing a partner, at 19, who would grow with me through the years. We are definitely not the same people we were when we said our “I do’s” back in 1980.
Like most couples, there have been a lot of ups and downs in our marriage, and many times when we weren’t on the same page. I wish I could say I had the wisdom to foresee that, and carefully selected someone who was flexible, open and accepting of change, but I didn’t. Have the wisdom, I mean. I just got lucky and chose someone who was. He’s also a very patient man.
The fact that we were able to grow, change and accept each other in the process is the work part. As any long-term couple can attest, there are many make or break moments in a marriage: having children, going back to school for retraining, getting promoted and taking on more responsibility at work, starting a business and moving to a new city, illness, deaths of loved ones, etc. Every time you experience one of these milestones, the dynamic between you as a couple can change and throw your union off course. And it often takes a great deal of work to get you back on track. Some never do.
Retirement is another of those milestones, and one of the biggest changes you will face in your life as a couple. There are a lot more challenges to deal with as we age. 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 huge undertaking.
Approximately one third of couples disagree on their ideal vision for and the lifestyle they expect to live during retirement
And one that you must take on if you’re going to continue to live in harmony with your sweetheart.
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. Do you know what your partner’s ideal retirement looks like? Is it similar to yours?
In their book: The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle, Roberta Taylor and Dorian Mintzer outline 10 conversations couples may want to have to ensure they are on the same page when it comes to their retirement plans:
- If, When and How to Retire
- Money and Finances
- Changing Roles and Identities
- Time Together, Time Apart
- Intimacy and Romance
- Relationships with Family
- Health and Wellness
- Choosing Where and How to Live
- Social Life, Friends, and Community
- Purpose, Meaning and Giving Back
How you navigate any differences in expectations can spell the difference between a loving or acrimonious retirement. 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.
I’m looking at is as an opportunity to reconnect about what’s important with my partner and ensure we enjoy what could be another 37 years together.
Find out how you can prepare your marriage for retirement and go the distance with your sweetheart with this free guide.
We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.