Can Retirement Destroy Your Marriage?

Author: AB Staff

Can Retirement Destroy Your Marriage?

Editor's Pick Relationships

The amount of married couple getting divorced after 50 is on the rise, and researchers believe that retirement is playing a big factor. According to marriage experts. Rob Pascale, a retired marketing research executive, and Dr. Louis H. Primavera, dean of Touro College School of Health Sciences, some of these couples are not ready to begin spending more time with one another. Pascale and Primavera are co-authors of  “The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), where they discuss how retirement can hurt a marriage.

How do relationships change when one or both of the partners are retired?

For some couples, it can be very challenging to transition from a life where you only see your spouse after work and on the weekends to a life that you’re with your spouse practically 24/7. In fact, often when people don’t want to retire early, they point out that one of the main reasons is because of their marriage. Even in good marriages, two people spending day after day in close proximity can be stressful. It may start out great in the initial stages, couples rate their marriages more favorably, have better sex lives, and feel their relationships have actually improved. But the honey moon ends rather quickly, and some coupes may realize that it’s very difficult to spend every day together.

Why do these changes occur?

Husbands and wives may have different ideas in mind on how they want to live their retired lives. For example, a wife might presume her retired husband will help more with household chores, or either spouse may expect more involvement from the other in their preferred leisure activities. If one of the partner’s expectations aren’t met, it can eventually lead to resentment due to feeling neglected or not getting fair consideration of his or her own interests.

Then there is the issue of social over-dependency. Phycologists suggest that being social active in your later years is very important for your overall mental health. Usually, women seem to be more socially active and have more connections with friends and family compared to men. Men then rely on their wives to keep them socially involved.  A certain amount of social dependency is reasonable, however, for some wives’ dependency can become extreme.

What are some ways couples can psychologically prepare for retirement and protect their marriage?

Researchers found that with time and practice, couples can learn ways to make it easier for them to live together during retirement. This includes:

Managing Expectations- Each partner needs to figure out what the other partner expects in order to avoid disappointments. Try to communicate more on joint and individual activities so that there is less confusion. Also, discuss these plans years prior to retirement so that both of you have time to prepare mentally and work on personal plans.

Pursue your own interests and maintain some separate friendships.

Having your own interests and friendships not only help provide personal space, but it also helps with personal growth and maintaining your own identity.

Establish Separate Territories

Try to have your own individual space in order to avoid getting on each other’s nerves as well as having a space to work on your own pursuits and hobbies.

There are so many married couple that face challenges after retirement, and being aware of this adds a sense of normalcy to the event. You need to understand that lots of other partners are facing the same problems that you are experiencing. Nevertheless, it’s important to follow the steps listed above as well as face your issues with your spouse early on while they are only minor annoyances. The last thing you want is to let these annoyances drag on and become major sources of conflict.

Did you find this information useful? Let us know in the comments. If you have any other finance questions, you can turn to our Retirement Forum. 

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