Last month we looked at strategies for helping ensure the extra time you get to spend as a couple after retirement is as enjoyable as possible. This month we look at other key issues you need to be aware of – namely communication, emotional challenges, and dealing with change.
It’s no coincidence that, at a time when we can look forward to significantly longer retirements than ever before, ‘grey’ divorce is also on the rise. Retirement often results in a change of dynamic between partners. Over the years, the demands of work and family can cause a couple to go their separate ways and evolve into different people. All of a sudden retirement throws you back together again – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
Also, there is the fact that the concept of entering a new phase of life causes most people to re-examine all aspects of their lives, including personal relationships. And for many the glue of raising children together loses its bond once the kids are gone – those who have stayed together ‘for the children’ are now in a position to start a new life.
We’ve all heard of the mid-life crisis, but there can definitely be a similar crisis associated with the transition into retirement. Both men and women can experience feelings of inadequacy, irrelevancy or depression – how significant this depends on how you see yourself and how much you have defined your value by the work you do (this topic is addressed more fully elsewhere in the book).
What to watch out for:
- Feelings of depression
- A loss of interest in things once considered important
- Anger or dissatisfaction with your partner
- Inability to make decisions about the future
If any of these become an issue, it’s probably time to talk honestly to someone about how you’re feeling, ideally your partner but alternatively a qualified health professional – and yes stoic kiwi male, this includes you!
Dealing with Change
Are there differences in the way men and women view the future? Definitely.
- Men are more likely to build a plan on their own than seek advice
- Women are more likely to be on their own in retirement than men – this can cause a sense of isolation
- Until retirement, men are generally either working or playing, so the change to how they spend their time is much more significant. On the other hand, women generally are more likely to do many of the same things in retirement as they did before, and simply reapportion their time
So where to from here?
- What issues do the two of you need to talk about?
- What steps do you need to take to improve communication?
- Do you have an appreciation of your partner’s future goals? Should you share in these, or step aside to give them space?
Thinking these things through well ahead of retirement, and not being afraid to ask each other the hard questions, will definitely pay dividends in the future.
Taken from the book ‘So you think you’re ready to retire’ written by Canadian retirement lifestyle authority Barry LaValley and adapted for New Zealand by Christchurch Financial Consultants Cambridge Partners Ltd.