Like getting married or having children, retirement is a new phase of life that will obviously require some adjustment. This is especially true if you and your spouse both work and decide to retire together—at the same time. While you may have planned to do exactly that, you must have a strategy in place to make adjustments. After all, you’ll both suddenly segue from the independence of individual workplace lives to spending those hours in the day together.
Along with spending more time together, your social activities and domestic responsibilities are likely to change. You may have been looking forward to retiring together, but you must be prepared to navigate and communicate effectively during some of these changes. Retirement is an emotional transition. It’s a good idea to have a solid strategy to reevaluate your roles and goals to help make the transition easier for you and your spouse.
Prepare to Have Flexible Roles
Personal needs could change once a couple decides to retire together. Because retirement can be an extremely emotional transition, it is best that partners are compassionate and willing to make modifications to their usual roles if needed. Flexibility is crucial.
For example, your spouse may want to dive right into their next big project (such as starting a small online business or serving on a local museum board of directors). But you may desire much needed down time with no responsibility for a while. Or you may want to travel and feel running an online business may be difficult on the road.
In the scenario above, the spouse who desires more down time may need to take on more household tasks to allow their partner time to take care of their work-related and/or volunteer responsibilities. Your spouse must also be considerate of your desire to travel and make time in their schedule to take a vacation with you. When you want some down time, your spouse may have to shoulder some additional household duties to give you time with zero responsibility.
It is essential to remain flexible regarding your individual roles when you retire together. This keeps simple disagreements and resentment from occurring and compounding over time.
Align Your Retirement Goals
The big goal has always been to retire. Right? And along with the big goal, you’ve probably got several additional goals for your retirement life. This is a good thing. But, beware. Misaligned goals and expectations can also produce resentment. Aligning retirement life goals with your spouse’s is important to include in your retire-together strategy.
For instance, your retirement goal might be to help raise money for a local food bank. This could lead to more social activities, like attending fundraising events or hosting regular dinner parties. As long as you and your spouse enjoy the additional fun and responsibilities that come with volunteer work—you can achieve your goal of giving together. However, if one of you doesn’t enjoy socializing on this level, this could be a problem.
It’s okay to have individual goals and retirement hobbies, too. In fact, spending time away from your spouse can be healthy and help you both maintain your unique identities. Just remember that communication is key. Communication ensures that whatever your together goals are, and no matter how different your individual goals may be, each of you achieve those goals when you retire together.
Redefine Retirement Goals
You should also prepare for occasions you may have to redefine your initial retirement goals.
For instance, an initial retirement goal might be to remain as healthy as possible in order to take the grandchildren on a fun vacation. This goal could lead to new exercise activities. You want to make you’re your spouse is up for that, and that their health allows extensive physical activity once you retire. If not, you’ll need to adjust!
Another example: In your younger years, you and your spouse may have dreamed of skydiving or walking the entire Appalachian Trail in retirement. However, once you retire, those have goals dropped off your bucket list to be replaced by other things. You want to make sure your spouse is aware of your change of heart, especially if those activities are still his or her priority number one. Be prepared to compromise and practice that flexibility we mentioned earlier!
Happily Ever After
Here’s the deal. Whether it is spending more time with family, new adventures, or giving back to the community, creating new goals that align with what matters most to you as a couple will help guarantee a successful retirement filled with purposeful activities. And, as time goes by, redefining those goals and trading some in for new ones is perfectly okay.
A solid strategy for working couples who decide to retire together includes a reevaluation of both your roles and goals after retirement—more than once! The key is to ensure that both partners are truly happy and feel rewarded in their retirement years. With a bit of planning, communication, and adjustment, it is possible to achieve the “happily ever after” you desire.