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.
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. It's a great time to learn something new, explore a topic of interest or refine your skills. Additionally, the time you spend apart is likely to give you something to talk about when you are together. Although this may be a bit harder during the Coronavirus pandemic, many organizations have step up to provide a myriad of virtual options. Below are a few links to some local resources.
- Howard Community College Continuing Education Courses Online Only
- Howard Community College 60 Plus Programs
- Howard County Recreation and Parks Encore Programming
- Howard County Office on Aging 50+ Centers Virtual Programming
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.1 Growing with others who share similar interests can help you maintain a well-rounded and consistently positive attitude. Social distancing has limited the amount of time we can spend with others but there are creative ways to have safe, socially distant get-togethers. Use a virtual meeting application such as Zoom, Webex, Facetime to schedule time to catch up with friends.
Spend Time Together Volunteering
Volunteering separately creates the opportunity to share new experiences with your partner. Consider sitting down with your partner to see what mutual interests you have and what volunteer opportunities may be available to do together as a couple. Working with your partner on a mutual cause can help strength the bonds between you. Several studies have indicated that adults who volunteer in low to moderate levels report higher levels of life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms. Although the pandemic has limited the number of in-person volunteer options, there are still opportunities available. Volunteer Howard County lists available opportunities for local non-profits in Howard County.
Allow Yourselves Time to Adjust
Above all else, it is important to remember to be patient with each other during this time of transition. Change takes time and involves experimenting with various ways to succeed before finding what works for you. At the end of the day, you and your partner are individuals who have different interests and personalities, which is presumably why you fell for one another in the first place. Keeping in mind these details and being respectful of one another’s thoughts and feelings is key.
Recognizing that retirement represents our last, and often most momentous, chapter in life can help one realize that it is the time to take on challenges that you’ve always dreamt of. Through communication, understanding and patience couples can experience these cherished moments together.
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by reframe Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.