Think About More than Money


Think About More than Money

Retiring couples should coordinate lifestyles, wants and wishes, too.

November 20, 2014

The old saying “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch” can become all too real when couples who have been together primarily on evenings and weekends find themselves under the same roof 24/7. According to a study done by the Cornell Gerontology Research Institute, many married couples tend to experience significant conflict after one or both spouses retire, with the most problems cropping up early in retirement. To head off potential trouble before it begins, here are some things to think about – and discuss – before one or both of you leave the workplace:

Decide what you’re going to do together and what you’re going to do alone
One of you may want to volunteer, while the other works part time. Your hobbies may put you on somewhat different schedules. There’s no “right” way to coordinate your activities, but a flexible schedule that builds in solo time for each of you may be a good idea.

Re-negotiate the household chores
Although most couples have worked out a division of domestic labor, perhaps grudgingly, that formula is often highly influenced by their respective work schedules. With that factor eliminated, a new arrangement is needed. This issue can be particularly problematic if one spouse retires a few years before the other – how much more of the workload should the new retiree pick up?

Think ahead about your social life
Friendships that began at work, or are primarily sustained by that shared experience, may take a different turn once you retire. Each of you needs to think about which relationships you want to keep, while also accepting the reality that you both need to put some real effort into making new friends as you grow older.

Plan your time with children – and grandchildren
Does retirement mean more time with the kids and grandkids and if so, how much? Spouses may have very different ideas about this – as may your adult children. If your retirement agenda includes lots of travel and your children are seeing an on-call babysitter in their future, you may need to work that out.

Last but not least, accept the reality that declining health and death are an inherent part of retirement One of you is likely going to wind up taking care of the other, and the time to talk about each of your preferences regarding medical care and end-of-life issues is before you reach that point.

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