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Discussing Retirement with Your Spouse or Partner
April 20, 2022

couple retiring

The subject of leaving your job and retiring can be very intimidating. It’s full of emotions for the person retiring, but it can be just as overwhelming and full of emotion for the spouse, partner, and family. There are potential or predictive changes that they see in their lifestyle, their well-being, their healthcare, community and routines.

We recently heard from a member of our RT Facebook Community who raised this very topic. “I would think the worry about spouses being together 24/7 is a concern. Can we get along spending so much time together?” We also heard from a client in our RT Mastermind say about her husband who is planning to retire soon, “I’m going to make him take this course because there’s no way he’s going to disrupt my life with my routine, with my kids and grandkids, my travel, my reading and my exercise. I don’t want him to be a burden on me. He needs his own plan.”

Taking the time to have a discussion with your spouse or partner about your shared retirement visions is crucial.

You should plan to sit down, take some quiet space together and let your partner know your thoughts. Tell them that you need to talk with them about something that’s really important for you both. Let them know that you want this to be a positive, uplifting, and exciting talk. Share with them that you would like them to listen to you without interruption so that you can get all your thoughts out. Then at the end, they can either sit with it and think about it, or say now we can have a discussion. And then you start to talk about it and for the person on the receiving end, you just need to listen. You are encouraged to ask questions and to be nonjudgmental. It’s important that you don’t attack, just listen.  Even if you decide, “I heard what you said. Let me think about it. Let’s talk about it next week.” Staring the discussion and processing it is the first step.

If the first time your spouse is hearing of your retirement plan, you’re saying, “Honey, I’m going to retire June 1st,” it’s not really fair to them to be able to process it. This should be a conversation in the making, and the more detailed your plan is, the easier it is for the other person to visualize and digest and figure out what changes or transitions will help them and you both as a couple.

We started talking about retirement the day my father died. He was 80 when he died after being retired for 15 years. That was over nine years ago. We decided to start talking about retirement then, because we didn’t want to repeat the same retirement as him. We did not want to waste away this precious time. We didn’t want to be unhealthy and not have a passion and a purpose and just be fulfilled with playing golf three days a week. That wasn’t our retirement vision, so we began talking about it together eight years before we actually retired.

It’s never too soon to start the conversation.

As our Retirement Transformed community has grown, we’ve discovered that there seems to be two buckets of people. There are typical retirement triggers that spouses and families tend to understand or are well discussed. For instance, if you’re a pilot and you age out at 65, or you work at a public company and you’re a senior leader and you age out. The age out scenario seems to have worked in creating natural conversations about retirement. Also, if your company is bought or sold, or you’re downsized, people seem to kind of wrap their head around retirement, their families too.

The atypical triggers were the ones where we had clients and community members tell us are most challenging. When the working person just is feeling irrelevant, unhappy or exhausted. This is what prompted the discussion around the importance of having earlier discussions with spouses and family members. It’s also important to have early discussions around the financial aspect of retirement. Often that is a spouse’s primary concern, and the financial planning for retirement has to take place years before any consideration to act upon it.

If you’re in a job with a good paying salary and it’s going to end, it’s critical to get together with a financial planner.

We don’t talk about this much here because we are not financial planners but it is a very important part of the retirement process. You will want to have a good understanding of your finances because that could be one of the issues that stops you from retiring… if you don’t really know if you will have enough money or not. “Enough money” varies for everyone and what their retirement vision is. Ask your financial planner to look at all your assets, your pension, social security, healthcare costs, etc… You will have to find out if you can afford to retire and if not, come up with a plan to get you there. Checking this box will help ensure that you and your spouse feel financially secure to make the decision.

After this is all discussed, the rest of the conversations around finding your passion and purpose in retirement can take place.   And planning together and getting on the same page sets the stage for a much more seamless and happy transition into your retirement years.
We are not financial planners and do not give out financial advice.  We recommend that everyone have a trusted financial planner to manage this area of your retirement.  For a short video on how we found our financial advisor, you can watch our YouTube Q&A on the topic here.