It’s not uncommon for two-career couples to retire at different times. This may happen when there is a significant age difference or if one spouse retires sooner than planned due to an unexpected layoff or an irresistible early retirement incentive package. In other cases, one spouse may feel burnt out and ready to throw in the towel while the other spouse is at the peak of his or her career and wants to keep going for a few more years.
Whatever the circumstances, mixed-retirement marriages are situations ripe for resentment and stress. For a time, you and your spouse will have to coexist in different realities, something for which you may be ill-prepared. Here are seven tips that will help you and your spouse adjust to having one spouse work while the other is retired.
Throughout your working years, you have probably viewed your retirement as a destination. It is a goal you are saving for and will hopefully reach one day. But once you reach this destination, then what?
The perception of retirement as a destination may be why some people approach retirement with dread rather than anticipation. They view retirement as a finish line or as the end of the road.
But retirement is simply a milestone you pass on your journey. It’s like crossing the border from one state to the next. The road will continue to unfold before you.
While you may view retirement as a long-anticipated emancipation from the work world, it is also a period of considerable change and adjustment. If you are married, some of the most profound changes will take place within the context of your relationship with your spouse.
For some couples, the fact that they have been drifting apart for years could be masked or ignored because most of their time and attention is devoted to their careers or raising a family. For these couples, suddenly spending more time together may present a reality they aren’t prepared for. They may find that they no longer have as much in common as they did while they were dating and during the early years of their marriage.
Even happy, well-adjusted couples will find that many aspects of their relationship will undergo change and require adjustment. Not surprisingly, honest discussion and a willingness to compromise and explore new solutions will help you deal with most challenges.
Here are ten suggestions that will help you and your spouse navigate the inevitable changes that will take place when you retire and enable you to better enjoy your remaining years together.
After you retire, you may believe that you no longer need to manage your time. Perhaps you regard time management as something you get to leave behind when you end your working career. After all, you have been a slave to your work schedule for decades.
If you are not retired yet, you may envision that the ultimate retirement lifestyle will consist of getting up whenever you want, eating whenever you want, doing whatever you want or nothing at all, and going to bed whenever you want.
That may be therapeutic for the first few weeks after you leave your job. It can help you decompress from decades of work. But that approach won’t remain satisfying for very long.
With no discipline or direction, you’ll discover that days and weeks will pass without doing much that’s meaningful. The next thing you know, months will have passed and you’ll have no idea where the time went or what you did. You will end up bored, unhappy and sedentary. You’ll spend most of your time in front of the TV or the computer. That’s probably not what you had in mind for your retirement. It’s not very healthy, either.
Many people look forward to retirement. They expect to catch up on all their projects, get completely organized and do some traveling. A few months or a year later, they may be looking around for new things to do because they're getting bored in retirement. Aside from the tediousness of boredom, being retired can also be a risk factor for depression.
Here are 7 ways you can prevent boredom in retirement.
The internet is awash with advice from retirement planning experts. Interestingly, many people who write retirement advice haven’t retired yet or are relatively recent retirees (like me). Plus, much of the advice you read comes from financial planners. That’s important, of course, but as you know, there’s more to a happy retirement than simply saving enough money.
Wouldn’t it be great to receive advice from some older, more experienced retirees who have spent many years living through the experience?
Recently, I had the opportunity to query some residents of Wake Robin, a life plan community in Shelburne, VT, through Wake Robin’s publicist, Charlotte Longley Lyman. I asked the residents questions such as “What advice would you offer to someone who is preparing to retire now?” and “What was the number one thing you wish you had done when starting the retirement process?”
Here are eight bits of sage advice compiled from their answers. Most of this advice is not ground-breaking or new – you’ve probably heard most of it before. But it’s good to have this advice validated by people who have been there and done that.
If you ask many retirees what their life is like, they will probably tell you that they are as busy as ever. Every day is full of errands, shopping, household chores, yard work, TV and movies, club meetings, and all sorts of other things. Their calendars are filled with events, appointments, and get-togethers.
After you retire and you no longer have to go into work every day, it seems like everything else expands, multiplies, and rushes in to consume the time you used to work. You may wonder how you ever had time to work and still get everything else done.
Of course, staying busy certainly beats being bored and having nothing to do.
But after a year or two has passed and you settle into your new normal routine, a sense of discontentment may emerge. It’s subtle at first, lurking just beneath the surface. You will begin to wonder if this is all there is, and if this is what you spent decades of your life working for. You’re busy, and most of it is fun or at least pleasant, but something seems to be missing.
While you have some control over the physical aging process with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, the fact that your body ages as you get older is inevitable. However, you have much greater control over your attitude towards aging. Here are ten steps you can take to cultivate a positive, youthful attitude at any age.
Mark and I discuss his recent transition from working in the corporate world to following his own passions and pursuits (he's says he's not ready to retire just yet), the fact that many retirees (or post-employment folks) still need to generate some income, and recent positive developments on both of our journeys.
You have probably been anticipating your retirement for many years. Perhaps you’ve entertained some general ideas about what your retirement will look like, but you’re not sure what your day-to-day life will be like once the big day comes to pass.
Despite your years of anticipation, you may be surprised by what it’s really like to wake up and have no job to go to. You will find that your life will suddenly be different in more ways than you might ever have anticipated.