Interestingly enough, when it comes to retirement, most couples spend a good amount of time planning financially, but then often neglect to plan for the emotional and behavioral aspects. Specifically, how will you and your partner live well together in retirement, without the diversion of work you have become so accustomed to over the years?
Everyone approaches retirement differently, but there are a few items to consider when doing so with your spouse. Co-dependency can be one of the first details to be aware of as you settle into your new retirement chapter. While time together is precious, maintaining a social connection with others is essential for mental health and can keep your marriage or partnership thriving for years to come.
It’s important to note that couples may have very different expectations or ideas regarding how they will live individually and as a couple. Either spouse may anticipate more involvement from the other in various ways, which is why it’s important to always maintain communication and openness with one another. Being on different pages may result in disappointment if either partner is feeling neglected or isn’t receiving fair consideration of their needs during this time.
It’s never fair to expect your loved ones to read your mind or for you to expect them to know how you’re feeling. You might need more alone time and if that’s the case, it’s important to make sure your partner is aware that it’s part of your nature, not necessarily a rejection of their company. After so many years together, it’s safe to assume that your spouse knows a bit about your temperament, but spending an increasing amount of time with one another may alter how you’re both feeling. A need for space can be addressed by detaching yourselves to encounter new hobbies and interests.
- Do you have a specific time set aside as a "How are we feeling this week?" discussion?
- Do you have alone time built into your schedule?
Cultivate Separate Hobbies & Friendships
It’s important to focus on building your individual social life in order to avoid becoming too dependent on your partner. In addition to strengthening and maintaining existing friendships, you may want to consider joining a club or organization or volunteering for something you are passionate about so that you have opportunities to develop new relationships. Additionally, the time you spend apart is likely to give you something to talk about when you are together.
- What hobbies do you do individually?
- Are you having trouble coming up with things to talk about with your spouse?
Spend Time With Others as a Couple
Individuals have reported that they experience the most content or happy feelings when they socialize with both their partner and other adults, as opposed to only their partner. Developing, and ultimately maintaining friendships beyond your family or spouse is extremely important to your mental and physical well-being. Growing with others who share similar interests can help you maintain a well-rounded and consistently positive attitude.
- What groups are you part of as a couple?
- Does time spent with others recharge your energy or deplete it?
Build New Dreams Together
Most of all, dream big together. Change takes time and involves experimenting with various ways to succeed before finding what works for you. Retirement is a huge shift, and you may have different goals in mind without realizing it - don't assume you know what the other person wants. Have a conversation where you talk about what you want to do in retirement. We can help with this as financial life planners, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pick three words to guide you through the year
- Plan out a whole week of "perfect days" and make room in your schedule for the things most important to you
- Every day, write down a bucket list item that seems crazy. A year into retirement, start pulling out ideas and making them happen.
Retirement is our last, and often most momentous, chapter in life. Talk to each other. Be understanding and patient with each other. Share your hopes and dreams. And create the life you want to live - together.