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Preparing Your Marriage for Retirement Years

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It is essential to share your retirement hopes and dreams and find a future that both of you can be excited about. Many people face the first years together after one, or both spouses have retired as a time of change and are unprepared for the reality of spending so much time together. In addition to adjusting to new schedules, retired spouses may face an identity crisis. 

If either of you derived a large part of your self-esteem and enjoyment from being able to do your jobs well, then you may feel a sense of loss and, in some cases, grief from the career and working life that you are leaving behind. In the face of stresses like these, sometimes marriages falter and fail. Both you and your spouse should continue to pursue your interests. Doing so improves your feelings about yourself and gives you something fresh and new to share.

Discussing retirement as a couple

  • Talk about retirement before it happens and try to agree on a shared retirement vision you both want. 
  • As you go through this adjustment period, share your emotions as you realign expectations, schedules, and interests.
  • Discuss your finances and how you want to manage them post-retirement.
  • It works well when both spouses understand their financial situation and agree upon boundaries to reduce conflicts over money. 
  • Continue to do the activities and interests you have always loved and discuss new activities you may want to do together.

Financial Planning for Retirement

Discuss when you want to retire as a couple and how you can take what you've done individually for retirement and create one solid plan. Anticipate living on a fixed income and talk about how your available funds will change and how to adjust your spending habits accordingly. Align yourselves together in terms of financial goals. Discuss how you want to spend your early, mid, and late retirement years. Consider selecting a financial advisor to maximize your financial freedom.

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship During Retirement

Sharing our thoughts and feelings with our partner will help clarify and strengthen your current and new relationship paths. We all want a partner that continues to grow as we age and take steps to secure that for ourselves. Pursuing some of your interests, maintaining separate friendships, and doing things together is also good.

When considering retirement, many people focus on ensuring their finances are in order and ready to fund the lifestyle they hope to enjoy. While this is important, it's also wise to consider the emotional aspect of this significant life change. Discuss what's important for each of you and how you will accommodate each other. Have a place of personal space to reduce the tension that can come from having to spend a lot of time together within the same house. 

After decades of working for a living, you'll likely experience many emotions when you retire. As with any significant change in life, you'll find different stages as you settle into a new day-to-day reality. Here are five stages you can expect to encounter and suggestions for ways you can help to prepare yourself.

1. Realization

When your retirement date arrives, you will likely feel mixed emotions. It is hard to say goodbye to coworkers, and facing an unknown future may be daunting. Before your retirement date, plan how to fill in all the free hours you suddenly have. 

2. Honeymoon period

In this time frame, retirement feels full of freedom and choice. There's no need to set an alarm or rush out the door and face yet another commute. You may pick up a new hobby, enjoy a holiday, or spend quality time with family and friends.

3. Disenchantment

As the gloss of retirement starts to wear off, you may feel bored, lack direction, and possibly suffer from depression. To avoid things becoming too mundane, make a new plan and find ways to mix things up a bit. Expand your friendship circle, take up a new hobby, or find a fresh challenge.

4. Reorientation 

You may find you're ready to make some adjustments to improve your happiness and fulfillment in retirement. Finding a new challenge, taking on some part-time or consultancy work, volunteering your time, and getting involved in a charity or local initiative. Discuss what you're passionate about and what excites you, and engage in that. Understanding this can help you avoid the sense of loss many people experience when they retire. 

Staying Active and Engaged in Retirement

Planning things to look forward to and ways to stay active in retirement is essential. You can join clubs, church activities, fitness centers, or the YMCA to help you stay fit. As parents, we still nurture adult children in many ways, and as grandchildren enter the picture, discuss how much time you want to spend caregiving. Expectations around who's doing what with household chores are also a hot topic.

It will take time to discuss and develop new mindsets and routines and adjust to economic changes in your marriage at retirement. You may find help from a counselor or therapist to help and support you through this process to adapt and evolve as a couple. A professional can guide you through challenging stages and help you find joy. 

Marriage in a Box provides helpful tips and suggestions on working through this time frame. It is an excellent resource with simple professional marriage tools, coaching, and strategies on the site. You will be able to set goals, earn rewards and check out the available kit and sources of information online.

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