You wait for what seems to be a lifetime – and finally retire. Now what? If you do not have a plan you might be facing boredom, or perhaps golf and new friends. If married, you are now spending 24/7 with your spouse; could be good or bad unless both parties have made inroads into plans for their new life. There are the “what ifs” to face. What if there is a major money problem? What if the stock market fails you? What if one of the partners becomes incapacitated? What if your travel plans don’t work out? What if……………? Maybe he wants to retire but she doesn’t. Many are poorly prepared for conflict that may arise if one partner retires and the other one doesn’t. Who will prepare dinner, do the bills, clean the house, do the shopping? According to Stephanie Coontz, social historian, “Retirement can magnify preexisting problems in a marriage. The decision to stop work forces you to reevaluate what you both want – and you may discover the gaps are wider than either of you thought.” During the first two years of retirement, marital stress increases and “Once the structure of work is gone, unresolved issues rise to the surface,” claims Coontz. To help prepare yourself, a few books are recommended. A humorous novel by Fred Lichtenberg entitled, Retire, Then What? may be helpful. Another suggestion is, Encore Adulthood: Boomers on the Edge of Risk, Renewal, and Purpose by Phyllis Moen. As spouses are in transition but traveling different roads, another book suggestion is, The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle by Dorian Mintzer. Bottom line is, you must have a plan to enjoy this long-awaited time. For additional reading, go to AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities, April 2016.
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