Avoid Marriage Problems After Retirement With These Planning Tips

Dana Brewer, CFP®
Jan 23, 2020 6:45:00 AM

marriage after retirementThink about it – What is your vision and plan?

Take a moment to think about your perfect day in retirement. Are you doing something you love or slowing down and letting the day play out? Are you enjoying the company of friends or family or are you recharging on your own? Think about how those days string together and how those days and weeks can fly by. 

Now ask your partner to reflect on their perfect day in retirement. Do your days line up or are there stark differences that may need to be worked through before you take the leap into retirement? 

Retirement is about far more than whether you have enough money saved. As a financial advisor, I find that people often put more planning into their vacations than they do planning for living in retirement.  

One of my fellow financial advisors asked her partner about his ideal retirement only to find out it involves an RV and traveling around the US seeing the country. While that may be a wonderful way to spend your retirement days it was not her dream. With over 30 years of marriage together, I am confident they will find a happy resolution to their retirement dilemma, but it shows how finding that balance is not always easy. We see so often that one spouse doesn’t want to live the other spouse’s retirement. 

So what can you do to prepare your partnership for your next stage of life? How can you weave your curiosity and passions into your retirement to create a healthy and vibrant life that uniquely fits you and works for your relationship?

3 Steps that may help guide your retirement plan.  

  1. Think about it. 
  2. Talk about it. 
  3. Write it down.

Talk about it – What gives you purpose, how will you begin?

Here is a list of discussion topics you may want to explore to see if you can find some shared expectations.  


Will you retire at the same time? One of you may be looking forward to winding down a satisfying career, while the other is still enjoy the pace of full-time work. Examining the “why” behind your retirement date and talking about what your retirement picture may look like will help you explore options and find solutions. 


How much travel – Does travel interest you? What kind of travel interests you - international trips, domestic trips, driving or other? How frequently do you want to go and for how long?  


Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay in your current home? Downsize? Winter in a warmer climate – rent or own? What is your timeline or trigger for these potential changes? Evaluate your housing needs for all stages of retirement, and consider adjusting when your needs change. Remember that changes in health can have an impact on your housing requirements. Yard work and stairs may be fine in the early years of retirement, but the home you spent most of your lives in may not be the ideal home indefinitely.


How active might you want to be? What does activity mean to you? Hobbies, sports, volunteering, working part-time? Will you want to plan for a “go-go” stage of retirement followed by a “slow-go” before ending with a “no-go” stage? Do you want to stage your activity spending plan?

Write it down. How Does Your Plan Fit Together?

Couples have the additional task of planning shared and separate time. Time apart is just as important as spending time together. Understanding, planning and communicating your needs and the needs of your partner can be a challenge. Plan activities with your individual friends and with couples you and your partner both enjoy spending time with. 

Activity goes beyond just being busy. Research shows that having a sense of meaning in retirement keeps you healthier and increases your longevity. Finding what gives you meaning is one of the keys to a successful retirement. What are you curious about and how can you follow that curiosity? How can you continue to create and nurture relationships to keep you connected and engaged in the world?  Writing down those ideas and thoughts will give you a guide to revisit and fine-tune as you figure out this next stage of your lives.  

Setting up monthly couples meetings is not only a good idea from a financial planning perspective it can also be used to discuss what is working and not working for each of you.  Are you each accomplishing your retirement goals? Does the plan need to be modified, are there roadblocks that need to be overcome?

Certainly, your financial plan is a big part of the choices you and your partner will make, but with planning for both the finances and life decisions, you will be on a good path to creating and living a healthy and happy retirement. 

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Topics: Retirement

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