Many of us believe that retirement will be all sunsets and beaches. We just walk off our job and head into this blissful retirement that we all dream of. While this can be a reality, there are so many underlying issues that couples need to address way before the big day! The problem is that often neither partner in the relationship wants to address these issues. Also, both partners may not have the time to have the conversation. Both people are running around so much that they are not taking care of themselves and their relationship. It is not what you have dreamed about, but it can easily happen in a blink of an eye.
We all know it is important to work for and build a large financial nest egg to achieve the things you dream of. Finances will always be one of the largest issues with retirement. Beyond the money, the bigger issues are that you need to have conversations around the following: work/career, health and exercise, where you will live, aging parents, adult children, social networks, activities, “me time” and “you time”, and life purpose. Most couples fail in retirement because they don’t have conversations around these topics. Before retirement, most of us assume that what we want for retirement is the same that our partner wants. The other issue is that couples can grow apart because of their busy schedules, tending to children and their career, thus sacrificing their connection with each other.
The sooner a couple can begin opening communication lines and taking time for each other, the better they will be prepared for their retirement. Each partner needs to communicate his/her needs so both can be satisfied and grow together. Life can easily sidetrack any great relationship. Sometimes we have our eye on another prize and lose sight of the most important person in our lives as we forge ahead with career success. Developing your communication and relationship is important so that you have a strong and committed relationship as you head into retirement. Studies show that the first two years of retirement are the most stressful time for a couple.
Working now on the activities you want to be involved after retirement – together and separately – greatly improves chances for a successful relationship once work is gone and you are faced with determining your daily schedule. Working through each issue and checking in with each other about these issues is important. It is not a time to be afraid to speak up. You must be honest with each other and see what works, what does not work and where to compromise in order to have a lasting and enjoyable next adventure as you shift into retirement. Do not become another statistic for that Gray Divorce that can happen in or near retirement, as you drift apart and loss that connection to each other.
Take time today and check in with your partner. See how you both view retirement. Are you on the same page? Do you have similar ideas? Are you at opposite corners of the room? Before retirement becomes a reality, take time to see and talk about your common and individual dreams for your next adventure. If you are stuck, talking with a retirement coach or taking a couple’s retirement course can be the best way to get moving and taking action for your new life.
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Written by: Mark Danaher, Career Retirement Coach
CEO & Founder, Career Retirement Coach at Retire to the Good Life. Request a free consultation with Mark.