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Why Should Spouses Retire Together? and Does it Make Sense

About of half of all couples' plan to exit the work force at or near the same time. This makes sense, they’re looking forward to the next chapter in life. So, why should spouses retire together?

“By retiring at or near the same time, couples have the opportunity to kick start the next chapter of their lives. Together, they can ease into retirement doing all the things they’ve always wanted. This includes building upon their relationship, having fun, and undertaking new adventures.”

There are situations when this may not be practical for some. Rather than launching into the pros and cons of the matter, we’ll focus on the benefits of retiring together. 

Next weeks’ post will discuss why you shouldn't retire when your spouse does.

Building Upon Your Relationship

After a lifetime of busyness, all too often our relationships become comfortable and almost taken for granted. 

In some situations, couples have grown apart. Now, you have the opportunity to revitalize and redefine the happiness you both deserve.

The most successful and happiest marriages are based on compassion and compromise, along with a host of other qualities. 

You need to give in order to receive. Nothing could be truer when it comes to marital happiness.

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Life's too short and we’re not getting any younger!

Through thick and thin, hopefully, your partner will be by your side. When you both leave the workforce, this is generally the best strategy to building a healthy vibrant relationship.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Marriage?

Entire books have been written on the topic, yet it boils down to a few simple things:

  • Open honest communication.
  • Finding compromises, creating win-win outcomes.
  • Commitment to your spouse and always having their back.

Making the Transition Together

Retirement is a transition. It's not always easy and can test even the strongest of relationships. So, should spouses retire together?

You have a shared history which may include raising children, buying your first home, possible job loss or career change and, potentially, dealing with medical issues. 

Then a whole new set of variables are introduced into the equation. Experiencing this together could ease some of the pressure.

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Be Supportive of Each Other

The day you leave work, everything changes. Going from a busy lifestyle to having vast quantities of free time can, in itself, be quite the challenge.

Those hobbies and interests you so looked forward in the past may have become repetitive and boring. The Ultimate Guide of Things to Do When Retired and Bored provides fresh thoughts to address this.

Of greater concern is when a sense of loss occurs due to diminished friendships, sense of identity, or lack of purpose.

To read more, see Why You Should Never Retire.

Many people struggle with the transition. Understanding and being supportive of your spouse is the greatest gift you can offer them. 

You will grow and overcome as a couple.

Avoiding Resentments

There may be good reasons why it’s not viable for both of you to leave at the same exact time.

For instance, your other half may want to work the remainder of the year to get their matching 401K contribution, achieve a bonus, or complete a large project.

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However, resentments can easily creep in when one spouse continues working such as:

  • Money matters are one of the greatest sources of conflict in relationships. When one spouse is no longer contributing to the household income, resentments can build. Especially if they're is spending like a drunken sailor and the other's slaving away to shore up finances.
  • Then, we have the situation when the working spouse doesn’t enjoy their job. It doesn’t seem fair they need to drag themselves into work each day. Meanwhile, their mate stays up too late (that was me) and not able to see them off to work every morning. Unbeknownst to myself at the time, that was a source of irritation for my wife.
  • There’s the issue of household responsibilities. Just because one of you is no longer working  doesn’t mean they’re happy doing all the cooking and cleaning. Yet, it’s not really fair to expect the working spouse to do their equal share.
  • Alternatively, the person staying home may also feel frustrated. They can’t do the things they want as most things might still be restricted to weekends or vacation time. Some may include spending more time with family or finally taking that “bucket list” trip. Even finding a “screaming hot last-minute deal” is fraught with resentment when their spouse can’t get time off.

Spending More Time with Family and Friends

So, should spouses retire together? The beauty of doing it is you're no longer working and have the flexibility for more time with family and friends.

Even if your kids and grandchildren are across the country, you can more easily accommodate their schedules.

Make the most of the time with them while they’re still young. We all know how fast they grow up.

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There may, also, be the obligation of caring for an aging parent. Again, as a team you are stronger and better able to manage the situation.

10 tips for caring for an aging parent provides more insights into these difficult situations.

Friendships and Social Interaction

Up to now, the focus has been on doing things with each other.

Women, often, are more social with a network of friends they keep in touch with. They go for lunches, shopping, and keep caught up on what’s happening.

Men, on the other hand, tend to be more work-centric with a much smaller circle of friends after they leave their job.

In many cases, they depend upon their wives to manage their social affairs. In all fairness, that’s not their responsibility!

Not only is it healthy to maintain outside friends and interests, it can strengthen your relationship. Just like your working days, now you have something new and interesting to talk about.

Travel Adventures

Travelling and, finally, visiting your “bucket list” destinations may be priorities for you.

This could be visiting local sites near home or a cross-country RV road trip.

Perhaps your desire has always been to explore the great pyramids or take a Panama Canal cruise.

For the more adventurous of us, you might go hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

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When one partner is still working, they may not be able to get the time off. Not many of us prefer to travel alone. Unfortunately, when shit happens, that day may never come. This could be because:

  • Failing health or the years have snuck up and travel’s no longer viable.
  • Global events such as the pandemic or political unrest.
  • Cost and it’s no longer affordable.

Exploring the world (however you define it) is a great way to broaden your horizons and share memorable experiences with your partner.

As friends of ours commented recently, “when this pandemic is over, we’re going to travel our asses off”!

What if You Have Different Travel Ideas?

He might be all about the cross-country RV trip whereas your preference is romantic Paris in the spring.

How do you find middle ground on that one? And, no, the answer isn’t smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic! 

This can become a real issue for many couples. Before rolling up your sleeves to duke it out, try to fully understand his/her viewpoint. 

What's important to each of you and why? This isn’t about getting your way; rather finding a compromise each of you are okay with.

Closing Thoughts on Why Should Spouses Retire Together

By retiring at or near the same time, you can now begin your new journey in life. You can finally do all the things you have always wanted to do. Start crossing things off that bucket list!

Some of the benefits include:

  • Building a deeper and more satisfying marriage.
  • Supporting each other through this transition.
  • Sharing more time with family and friends.
  • Travelling and experiencing new things.

I’m sure you can think of many more! You both deserve for have your retirement be happy and fulfilling.

Your relationship will grow and you will, definitely, have more fun. Retiring at the same time will be as wonderful and happy as you make it. Enjoy!

  • Avatar Steveark says:

    One key to happiness as a couple is having shared hobbies you can have fun doing together. My wife and I worked on this even before we married 42 years ago. We play tennis at the same level, we ran marathons together, we fish, we ski, we hike and bush whack, we off road, we cook, we travel, we pickleball. Plus we do all those things together and separately with our friends. I worry about people who only share one or two things, like travel or eating out, that’s not enough in my opinion.

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