After decades of spending a lot of time apart, while working, it can be hard for couples to get used to spending more time together in retirement. It is easy to smile and chuckle a little bit when you hear comments like these from newly retired couples:
“I need to go back to work, my wife and I are driving each other crazy.”
“My husband tells me to stop bugging him, he’s retired now and just wants to relax.”
“I’m thinking about playing more golf, it keeps me out of the house and out of trouble.”
“Now that he is retired, he thinks he can manage me like I was on his team at work.”
Given the above, I would like to introduce some ideas in the areas of communication, time management, and shared goals to try and help.
The power of communication
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that married couples heading into retirement have been together for a long time. Therefore, it might be easy to deduce that both communicate well in a life that is defined and structured. Remove the known (professional life) from the unknown (retirement life) and the art of communication might need to be adapted or retooled. Think about introducing a little lifestyle probing to get into a post-career mindset.
It may be hard to answer some of these questions but the more you talk about life after your career, the less chance these problems will enter the mix: poor listening, easy criticism, dismissiveness, and emotional withdrawal.
When asked, almost half of the respondents indicated they do not have the ability to manage their time well. They also wonder how they will fill the time when they leave their career. Just because you manage time well today does not mean you will do it in retirement. Conversely, if you don’t manage time well today, it will only get worse when your time becomes unstructured in retirement. Here are some time-tested inquiries:
These questions are self-directed to the individual. However, with each answer, couples will learn new things about the other person.
Successful professionals produce the necessary income to make retirement a reality. Nonetheless, success can be the linchpin that defines many of your goals in life. Once the job stops, life can feel like it is void of meaning. Introducing the concept of goal planning (individually and as a couple):
If the statistics hold, you will find you have not really thought about the meaningful things you want to do in retirement, let alone discuss them with your spouse. Default answers like travel and finding a new hobby are not goals, but activities. The true fun begins when you are able to define those activities into detailed goals.
Quality time together and apart
Retirement opens couples to spending more time together. One or both deciding to go back to work is a delay tactic that won’t last forever. Eventually, time itself will force a change. When a spouse defines the life for both, it can cause the other person to withdraw. Seeing a significant other as someone to be managed (like you do at work) limits the goal-planning opportunities for everyone.
I hope this helps you think about all the possibilities available to you when you “intentionally plan” to decide to spend all that time together.
Want to learn more? You can pick up the book written by David Buck “The Time-Optimized Life”
Best Regards, Paul