Thirty-seven years ago this month, I married the boss. Well, technically he wasn’t my boss at the time, but he was when we met and started dating. In those early years, working together wasn’t an issue. We were young, in the bloom of love and happy to share all of our time together. Eventually, we moved on to independent careers.
Fast forward 20 years when we decided to launch our first business together. We learned rather quickly that working AND living together 24/7 was not as much fun as we remembered. We had developed vastly different work styles and often disagreed on the best business approach to take. But our tendency to bring our work home remained the same. We both lived and breathed our business and that wasn’t great for our relationship. We chose our marriage over the business, sold it and happily went our separate work ways once again.
Our different experiences of spending all of our time together made me feel a little uneasy as we approach retirement. Would it be the same as in our youth, midlife, or entirely different now that we’re older and wiser?
It’s a fairly common concern for couples approaching retirement. Most of us spend at least 40 hours/week apart from our partners, so when we retire, it can be a big adjustment to share our days and nights with them. Barring divorce or separate living arrangements, we are all going to have to figure out how to make that work.
Most of us spend at least 40 hours/week apart from our partners, so when we retire, it can be a big adjustment to share our days and nights with them.
Here are some of the things you and your partner will want to consider:
- What are your expectations about how much time you will spend together and how much time apart pursuing separate interests, hobbies and friendships? Does your partner share those expectations? Is one of you thinking I married you for life, but not for lunch every day?
- How will you adapt to each others’ need for privacy or alone time? Balancing independence and intimacy can be challenging, especially if one partner wants to be together while the other craves me time. This can be a real issue if one of you is more extroverted than the other and enjoys socializing more.
- Do you both have something to retire to? Leaving the workforce without knowing how you want to spend your time and direct your talents can contribute to tension in your relationship. Understanding what is going to motivate you and how you will remain active once you retire will help you cope with the inevitable sense of loss that each of us face as we experience changes to our sense identity and purpose, daily structure, social connection and affiliation. Without that sense of purpose, we can develop an unhealthy over-dependence on our partner.
- Do you have separate interests/hobbies or do you need to develop them? For some couples this is a time to reconnect and renew their relationship through common interests. For others, they may want to guard their leisure pursuits as time spent alone or with other friends.
- Will you retire at the same time or years apart? How will you manage if one of you continues to work while one retires? As women are often younger than their partners, have taken time off to have children, and are likely to live longer, they may want to continue working past their partner’s retirement date. A sure recipe for resentment occurs when one spouse pressures the other to stop working before they are ready to call it quits.
- How will the balance of power shift in your relationship if one of you retires before the other? Will a change in your income or status affect your sense of self-worth or competence?
- Do either of you want to continue to work part-time? How will that impact other plans you may have such as travel, spending time with family, etc.
- Will there be changes in your household responsibilities? E.g. If you have always made dinner because you arrived home from work first, and your partner did the cleaning up, will that change when you are both home? Even if one of you has primarily been responsible for the household tasks, some renegotiation may be necessary.
These are just some of the relationship issues that couples need to address to better position themselves for a satisfying retirement together. Clearly communicating your needs, expectations and boundaries to your partner and understanding theirs is key to finding the right balance that will work for both of you.
To learn more about how you can plan for and live your ideal retirement, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.
Your Ideal Retirement Coaching offers 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.