(Post by ANN HARRISON)
Once you and your partner are both retired, will you be able to cope with spending large amounts of time together or will you be sick of the sight of each other within a month?
When Psychologist, Michael Longhurst, conducted a research program with 200 Australian retirees about the challenges that adjusting to retirement brings to a relationship, he discovered that the top 3 relationship needs that recurred regularly were:
1. Having your own space
2. Being free to do your own thing
3. Not being taken for granted
The failure to develop a clear understanding of your own retirement expectations, the expectations of your spouse or partner, and how to blend the two together can be a recipe for retirement disaster… If you’re worried about you and your partner getting under each others’ feet once you both retire, here are some things to consider:
Make sure you take plenty of time for yourself. Ensure you have somewhere to go to get away from your partner and give the pair of you a break from each other whenever you need it. If you have a couple of spare bedrooms after the kids have moved out, consider having one each to use as your own space – somewhere you can go to close the door and think, work, chill out, do your own thing, have some privacy and nurture that independent part of yourself.
Have your own set of friends – sure, it’s great when your friends are your partner’s friends too, and you all go out in a big crowd to have fun. But you might want to consider having some friends of your own as well - ones that you see apart from your partner. The time you spend on your own with your gang will give you something to talk about to your partner when you get home.
What is your definition of ‘healthy togetherness’ with your partner? And does your partner share that definition? How many interests/activities do you share as a couple? Have you ever felt obligated to participate in any of those activities to keep the peace between yourself and your partner? Are you still happy for that situation to continue once you’re retired?
Are you likely to want to spend more time with your loved one than they’re prepared to give? Do they have other plans for how they’ll spend their time and who they’ll spend it with?
Alternatively, if there’s an age gap between you and it’ll be some time before you and your partner are both retired, how will your one-retired/one-working arrangement affect your relationship? Will the still-working partner feel anger or resentment? What will need to change with regard to the division of labour within your home? If you each have your own money, will there be a difference in the amount of disposable income each partner has and, if so, will this cause conflict? What can/will you do to resolve it?
Bear in mind that even couples who have happily rubbed along together for many years can be surprised (or even shocked) by the effects that retirement can have upon their relationship… And the best way to avoid any issues in the first place (or resolve them satisfactorily when they do arise) is to talk to each other. To speak honestly and openly about your wants, needs, hopes, fears and dreams for your future, and to listen with understanding and compassion when your partner does the same thing.
Ann Harrison, Manchester, United Kingdom
Ann is a Retirement Options™ trained retirement coach and Too Young To Retire™ facilitator. She is also a writer, blogger and creator of information products; she retired from her job in education management at the ripe old age of forty-three. She is the author of ebooks, “The Retirement Detox Programme: 40 days to get your retirement back on track” and ‘Thought Provokers: Questions you need to ask yourself BEFORE you retire”.For more information, check out her retirement Website or Blog or follow her on Twitter.