For many older couples, retirement is a long-awaited event where they can finally fulfil life-long dreams.
While this transition can be exciting, retirement comes with its own set of unique challenges that will affect your couple relationship.
Adjusting to retired life together
If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, you’ve probably settled into a routine. You wake up, have breakfast together, head off to work, come home in the evening, eat dinner and so on. The most time you probably spent together was at weekends. But now that you’re retired, you will be around each other a lot more.
Suddenly having to spend so much time together with your partner can be difficult to cope with. Recent research conducted by Skipton Building Society found that 40% of retired couples had to learn how to live with each other again and 25% said that managing their relationship was trickier than they imagined it would be.
One way couples are easing themselves through this transitional period if by choosing a gradual retirement instead of a direct shift from full-time employment to full-time retirement.
Skipton Building Society’s research also found that nearly a third (29%) of couples feel that their expectations of retirement are different.
Other research, conducted for the 2013 Fidelity Investment Couple Retirement Study, found that 38% of US couples disagree on the lifestyle they will live once they reach their retirement years.
Perhaps your partner plans on selling up and moving to Wales to raise sheep, while you plan on taking a cruise around the world before settling back in your family home and spending more time with your grandchildren.
Whatever your expectations, it’s important that you sit down together and discuss your plans. In doing so, you’re better prepared and there will be no disappointments. If you have different ideas, only through discussion you will be able to come to a compromise.
A common cause for conflict among retired couples is the division of household labour.
If you are in a relationship where one partner tackles the household chores while the other works, the partner who typically does the housework may be under the impression that once the other retires, they’ll help them around the house more often. However, the other partner may have other ideas!
It’s a good idea to start designating household tasks and agree on who does what. Perhaps one of you will do the cooking and cleaning while the other takes care of household maintenance and gardening duties.