5 Questions for Couples Approaching Retirement

Sep.03, 2015  |  Articles

connectedness-278507_1280  This article is the second of a three-part series that I’m writing on couples and communication. The first article addressed young couples, this one is for couples who are entering retirement, and the third one is for couples coping with Alzheimer’s disease.

Historically, the retirement phase of life was considered a relatively short period of people’s lives, in which they focused on rest and relaxation.  Now that people are living longer and the retirement phase lasts longer (an average of 30 years), retirees are spending these years of their life in new ways.  Many people still decide to spend time on activities, like playing golf, traveling more, visiting relatives frequently, or purchasing a vacation home. Yet, others are pursuing a passion they never had a chance to before, like writing a book, learning how to play a musical instrument, going back to school, volunteering for a charity, or trying out a new area of employment.  Additionally, retirees may be re-hired by their company as a part-time employee or contractor (re-hirement).  The possibilities are endless!

Because the retirement years are lasting longer, individuals and couples are spending much more of their lives in this phase. Thus, it is particularly important for couples to communicate about retirement and to prepare for it. Sometimes older couples feel that they have grown distant from each other over the years because of life’s many demands, such as childrearing and career obligations. Retirement is a wonderful opportunity to renew a couple’s closeness and intimacy.  Talking to each other about the following topics is a important first step to creating the retirement life you desire as a couple.

Five Questions for Couples Who are Approaching Retirement:

1) What are your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about retirement?  Are you excited about it?  Nervous?  Overwhelmed? Feeling lost?

2) How do you envision spending time in retirement?  Are you interested in particular activities or hobbies?  What needs to happen in order for you to feel ready to take these steps?

3) What are your feelings, thoughts, and values about spending and saving money in retirement? How much income do you want and need to have to sustain the lifestyle you desire?  Do you want or need to continue working for a while longer to cover your expenses?  Do you need to reevaluate how you are investing your money?  Have you created a Last Will & Testament?

4) Where would you like to live in retirement?  Do you plan to stay where you are?  Downsize? Buy a vacation home?  Live with or near one of your adult children?

5) What are your thoughts and feelings about aging?  Often retirement triggers feelings about growing older.  How is your health?  What are your plans for diet, exercise, and medical visits? Have you given each other a list of medications you’re taking?  Have you completed healthcare paperwork like a Living Will and a Healthcare Proxy?

After each of you answers these questions for yourself, share your ideas and feelings about retirement with your partner.  If you are struggling to create a plan, you may find it helpful to meet with a therapist who can guide you through these conversations.

Remember that this is an exciting time of your life, and you have a wonderful opportunity to be intentional about how you spend these years together!

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