The years after retirement are often referred to as “golden,” but as the Houston marriage counselor, I know that many couples’ entry into retirement is anything but. It’s all too easy for couples used to spending the majority of their time leading separate lives to find their relationships strained by the stress of such a drastic change. The best relationship advice I can give is that the key to easing the transition from working life to retirement years is to thoroughly discuss all aspects of your retirement plan with your partner.

Retirement Discussion Topics from the Houston Marriage Counselor

It can be easy to overlook key areas when trying to talk to your partner about impending retirement. Consider the following questions as you work to clarify the priorities and vision that you and your spouse have for your retirement years.

When to Retire – The most important question revolves around when each of you will finally clock out. Does one partner need to work a little longer in order to be eligible for a better pension or benefits? Will you feel strange if you stop working before your partner, or vice versa? Get these issues out in the open, or you may end up feeling resentment and bitterness over the subject of who is or isn’t working.

Where to Retire – Although this one might seem like a no-brainer, as the Houston marriage counselor I’ve seen plenty of couples derailed by the simple question of where to live after ending work. One partner may want to move to a sunny location or closer to far-away family members, while the other may not be able to fathom the idea of leaving a close-knit social network. Both concerns are equally valid and need to be thoroughly discussed.

Financials Ideally, you’ll have figured out a retirement plan well before it comes time to hang up that briefcase. But if you haven’t, sit down with your spouse and a financial advisor ASAP to determine how your savings stand and how much income you’ll need to sustain yourselves in the years after work ends.

The Day-to-day – With both partners suddenly at home together, all day and every day, it’s no wonder that many couples find themselves tense and irritated by the sudden change in routine. It’s easy run into problems when one partner expects to spend their golden years leisurely while the other plans to take up a previously unexplored career or begin a rich volunteer schedule. Neither you nor your partner will be happy if you don’t take the time to discuss what your daily lives will look like.

If at any point you or your spouse becomes overwhelmed at the task of broaching these often difficult questions, make an appointment with the Houston marriage counselor for relationship advice to make your retirement truly “golden.”