When Your Spouse Retires First

More than 47 percent of married couples are in dual-income families, and as the retirement ages are all in flux now it’s becoming quite common for one partner to retire while the other keeps working.

According to Angela DiCastri, a director for the Retirement Market at Northwestern Mutual, those staggered retirements can lead to a variety of challenges, both financial and emotional.

Going in Different Directions
After years of waking to the same alarm clock and racing off to their respective jobs, many couples find themselves having to adjust to a sometimes significant shift in their domestic lives,” said DiCastri. “For some, one spouse chooses or is forced to continue working, either for financial reasons or to maintain health benefits. For others, one spouse has to retire earlier than planned either because of a layoff or illness. Either way, resentments can start to build, especially when the working spouse also would like to stop working but feels he or she can’t.”

So What To Do When Your Spouse Retires First

If you have set duties within your partnership these can be seriously tested when one partner is working and the other not but the duties remain the same. Not surprisingly, even the strongest of marriages can be tested when one spouse has to get up early for work while the other hits the snooze button and rolls over for some extra sleep.

“Retirement is a major life transition that can change the marital dynamics of a couple in much the same way the birth of a first child changes it,” explained DiCastri. “Conflict can easily arise when partners aren’t on the same page about their hopes and dreams for retirement, as well as their expectations and fears about the future.”

Separate, but Together
Here are five strategies DiCastri suggests you consider:

  1. Have you talked this through?
    A lot of people are surprised to discover that they have very different ideas about retirement and that they don’t always match with their partner’s.
    In order for retirement to be mutually satisfying, it’s crucial for both spouses to discuss their goals in advance, especially when one partner gets a head-start on retirement.
  2. Talk about timing.
    Which spouse should retire first -Discuss the implications of loss of income and/or health care and other benefits will impact your lives. Getting clear on what is driving the decision to retire can help ensure that you and your spouse make the best timing decision for your family.
  3. Take a reality check.
    By living on one paycheck instead of two, you can get a clearer sense of your spending and what you can and can’t live without. At the same time, having one income still coming in can help you preserve your nest egg for a while longer.
  4. Manage expectations.
    Clarify your roles and establish how time will be spent – when and how much you want to socialize separately and together and how you plan to handle vacation time is just a starting point.
  5. Say goodnight together.
    Routine can be turned on it’s head when one spouse is no longer tied to a schedule. so it could be beneficial to set a regular bedtime, it can help avoid the disruption to sleep patterns that can occur when one person calls it a night early and the other hops into bed much later.

Retirement is such an upheaval in our lives but it’s been expected  and looked forward to for many years. It is something that has been happening for several generations now and still it can cause much trauma unless you treat it with respect.

The main theme seems to be to share your vision for retirement and work through any differences. It can actually strengthen your union and help you both move toward a better life together no matter when each of you decides to retire.

Personally we are talking and planning and slowly we are getting on the ‘same page’ We have a few more years to go so we should have it all sussed by then. hopefully 🙂

Go well till the next time



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s