Will Retirement Wreck Your Marriage?

June 11, 2024

Will Retirement Wreck Your Marriage?

May 29, 2023

There’s a romantic vision that “growing old” together after a full career is a beautiful notice.

But, with more than 5,000 folks who’ve experienced MEA’s programs, especially our Reframing Retirement online course and in-person workshops, I believe there are two key relationship variables that aren’t considered by most folks when they retire: timing and temperament. 

When it comes to timing, only 11% of couples retire at the same time. So, you have the classic case of one spouse enjoying the good life (or becoming a couch potato) while the other is still on the treadmill. One is slouching while the other one is slaving. Some of this can’t be planned, especially when one spouse loses a job or has to leave the workforce due to health reasons or caring for ailing parents. That can add to the spousal tension when all the financial pressure rests on the shoulders of the other spouse.

What can you do about this? First off, make sure you’re communicating a lot and having a sporadic, fun date night as much as you can while also co-planning your vacation time. During those times, you have a level playing field when the “occupied” spouse (don’t you hate the word “occupation:” it’s what a foreign country does to a neighboring adversary) has the time to lavish some love on the retired spouse. Additionally, this misaligned timing can allow the non-working spouse to have some time to pursue passion projects or new hobbies such that they feel purposeful and that could be a good thing. If you’ve been married a long time, you may blossom with this kind of independence. 

And, then, there’s the temperament question. Some people can’t wait to retire. For others, “retirement” is a dirty word. I believe there are five retiree archetypes. The more different you and your partner’s archetype are, the more you need to communicate about intentions and needs because your idea of a good time in your 60s and beyond may be radically different than your partner’s. The good news is that sometimes these differences work well in terms of covering the bases from being financially prudent to frivolous. 

The “Perennial Planner” Partner: This person has been assiduously planning their retirement for a long time, may have a pension, and definitely has been saving money out of the unfounded fear that they’ll end up penniless. They’re very cautious about how they’ll spend their money and, no doubt, they’ll join AARP for the discounts. It’s worth exploring what “money script” they inherited from their parents. 

The “Never Say Retire” Partner: These folks have often been very successful in their careers and have a hidden fear of being a PIP, a Previously Important Person. They may have workaholic tendencies or just a natural curiosity to constantly grow in their careers. The idea of retirement gives them hives, so they need to be reminded to take vacation time and expand their horizon beyond their career.

The “Golden Years” Partner: This is the classic retiree the way 20th-century society portrayed them: someone who wants to slow down, take it easy, and doesn’t mind a simple, relaxing life, possibly on a golf course. The problem with this partner is they may be a little boring so ask them, “Ten years from now, what will you regret if you don’t learn it or do it now?”

The “Never Too Late” Partner: This partner has been asking that regret question the last few years of their working life. They feel freed to become more adventurous and pursue their unrealized dreams: foreign travel, walking the Camino, taking up guitar, learning to surf…this partner has a zest for life, but can be a pain in the ass if you’re the Golden Years partner who just wants to hang out with the grandkids.

The “Arrogance of Inheritance” Partner: God forbid that you’re the Perennial Planner and you’re married to this one as he or she will wake you up in the middle of the night saying, “I just had a nightmare that we aren’t spending the money in time and the kids will inherit it all.” This person believes they have every right to lavish themselves with the spoils of a long, successful career and they believe their kids need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. 

Which one are you? If you’re partnered, which one is your spouse? Maybe this blog post about the 5 Partner Languages of Retirement is worth sharing with your spouse. 

-Chip

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

wo-sfe-24-010

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
wo-baja-24-030

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
wo-sfe-24-018

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

July 1, 2024
 to 
July 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

July 1, 2024
 to 
July 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA