My clients in Houston relationship counseling generally seem to understand that there are a lot of changes and milestones that they will have to adapt to relatively early on in their partnerships. Going from open dating to exclusivity, from living separately to moving in together, and from couplehood to actual marriage are all huge steps that can change the nature of your relationship and your interactions with each other in ways you may not expect, but most people inherently understand, accept, and go in willing and ready to work to be better together.

But after a couple has been together through many of the changes of adult life, possibly even having children together, the fact that retirement could bring yet another disruption and cause problems doesn’t even occur to most people. After all, how could this be harder to deal with than getting junior through his teen years or struggling through that period where both of you were jobless and scraping by?

To top it off, retirement typically is a time that couples look forward to. They believe they’ll finally have freedom to enjoy their lives and reinvigorate their relationship. So when all that freedom turns to depression, arguments, boredom, or just overall disappointment, it can really cause problems in your marriage – especially if each of you has a different idea about how your new lives should go.

Houston Relationship Counseling: Make a Retirement Plan

The best marriage advices I can give to couples thinking about retirement is to talk it out and make a plan together. Much like when you were planning to get married, you might think you know what your partner wants, but discover through talking about it that you’re not on the same page at all. Finding this out can be frustrating, even in Houston relationship counseling sessions, but it’s far worse to learn about these differences after retiring. There are a number of things couples should discuss before retirement, including:

  • How much time do they want to spend together? This can obviously be a touchy subject, but is one of the most important things for couples to really think about in a serious way. Many people romanticize all of the extra time they’ll get with their spouse, only to realize that their spouse is more interested using his or her new freedom to play golf, take classes, or volunteer. Neither of these paths is necessarily bad, but both of you should know the expectations of your partner.
  • How will responsibilities change? While more and more couples split home duties with both partners working jobs throughout the relationship, retirement can change what one partner expects of another, especially if one person retires first. Is that person now going to be the “homemaker,” doing all the cooking and cleaning while the other partner remains at work? How are they going to adjust to this new role? Or if the relationship has had a “traditional” set up, what will the retiring partner’s new responsibilities be?
  • What are finances like, and will work need to continue after “retirement”? You’ve likely saved some, but have you saved enough? Are both of you aware enough of your finances to know what to expect from retirement? It can be quite a shock if one partner dreams of constant vacations in his or her golden years only to discover that you can barely afford to keep your house. The bottom line is that both of you need to be prepared for what you’re getting into, and it may mean that one or both of you decides to look for part-time work, hopefully doing something easier and more fun than your career work.
  • Where will you live? Some couples are happy keeping the home they’ve had for years because they are comfortable there. Others like to downsize or move to more exciting locales to try something new. Are you and your spouse on the same page?

My ultimate marriage advice: communicate and respect each other. If you’ve lasted this long together, most likely you’ve already learned this, but if you want a successful, happy relationship, you have to be able to talk things out and adapt to your partner’s plans and desires, just like he or she should adapt to yours. Most couples find the transition to retirement fairly smooth with a little planning, but if you and your significant other feel that you need further advice, check out Houston relationship counseling.