As the Houston marriage counselor, I sometimes work with couples who have recently retired and are having trouble adjusting to the new patterns in their shared lives. The good news: divorce rates after retirement are relatively low, and according to Forbes, 60% of couples report an improvement in the quality of their marriage after retirement. However, many newly retired couples still encounter relationship problems at this stage.
Like moving away from home for the first time, marrying, or having a child, retirement is a huge life event that shakes up established routines. For married couples, retirement can mean rethinking how you function as a couple. Today I’d like to look at some of the common concerns and relationship problems that arise with retirement and how to address them.
Houston Marriage Counselor Offers Advice for Retiring with your Partner
Have a frank conversation about your retirement concerns. Even people looking forward to their retirement may also worry about how it will affect their quality of life. How will retirement impact your individual identity? How will you and your partner spend your newfound free time? How will your loss of income impact you? Before retiring, you and your partner should talk about your major concerns and work together to figure out how to resolve them. You might even consider meeting with a financial advisor or marriage counselor to address concerns about retirement that have been placing stress on your relationship.
Come up with a plan for domestic duties. Although it might seem like a minor issue unworthy of bringing up with a Houston marriage counselor, domestic duties after retirement are often a major source of contention. In general, women end up performing more of the household chores, most likely due to beliefs about a woman’s “role” in the home, and this can lead to resentment. You and your partner need to talk about what the division of labor will look like when you both have more time on your hands and come up with a plan that is agreeable for both of you.
Find activities to do together—and separately. Perhaps one of the best things about retiring is that you will have more time to spend with your partner. However, this newfound time together can be another source of relationship problems. Some people fear losing their individual identity and autonomy after they retire and may begin to resent spending too much time with their partner. If this is a concern for you, make sure that you have individual hobbies and activities that you enjoy doing—such as volunteering, gardening, and spending time with friends. At the same time, make sure you find activities that both you and your partner can enjoy doing together in your retirement, too. As a Houston marriage counselor, I love seeing couples who discover a new hobby or activity that they are passionate about and can share in once they retire.