How to Coordinate Retirement with Your Spouse

Author: AB Staff

How to Coordinate Retirement with Your Spouse

Editor's Pick Relationships

What do you do if your spouse retires but you want to continue working? How do you manage these differences in lifestyle?

Between 2004 and 2014, the number of Americans over age 54 who were active in the civilian labor force ballooned by 47.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that number is expected to grow nearly 20 percent over the next 10 years. With more Americans planning to stay in the workforce longer, the assumption that couples will retire simultaneously at age 65 is no longer realistic. This can cause great friction between spouses with differing expectations for commencement of retirement.

Anne Tergesen of the Wall Street Journal covered this important subject in her 2015 article. Below are the key insights she gleaned from talks with couples as well as psychologist and author Dorian Mintzer:

  • Practice open, honest communication. If you quietly decide to continue working longer than expected, your spouse may feel betrayed that you made a momentous decision without consulting them first. Instead, share each other’s ideal plan for the future and take their ideas into sincere consideration.
  • Prepare for your spouse to disagree with your plans. They may be frustrated that you will be unavailable to travel or visit family.
  • If you ultimately disagree on the subject, make an effort for compromise. Try to work a little less, outsource some of your workload, or take time to plan regular quality time or travel.
  • Take the other’s most important needs into account. For example, what activities, such as travel, may no longer be possible if you continue work into very old age?

Roberta Taylor, 71, and her husband Bruce Narasin, 73, present a great example of retirement coordination and compromise. Roberta is a retirement and money coach and speaker who happily explains that work is always on her mind and that she has “no intention of retiring.” Bruce, on the other hand, has retired and would like his wife to follow suit. As a compromise, he has urged her to continue her satisfying career, but simply make herself more available for quality time. She now makes a concerted effort to carve out time, spending two days a week caring for their 2-year-old granddaughter and enjoying regular date nights, as well as evenings out with friends.

For many married couples, retirement is a long-awaited opportunity to reconnect as a couple by shedding all responsibilities of work and children. It is the first opportunity since early adulthood that there is ample time for travel and other bucket list items. While gearing up for this wonderful time together, it’s important to consider each other’s needs and wishes. Your timelines for retirement may not line up exactly, but through communication and compromise you are very capable of making the most of your third stage of life both as a couple, and as individuals.

How did you and your spouse coordinate retirement plans? What issues arose and how did you overcome them? What advice would you like to share with our community? Still not sure and need more advice? Ask the community!