Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Have a Happy Marriage After Retirement

Causes of Gray Divorce

Divorce after the age of 50, also know as gray divorce, is becoming more common ... sometimes because of the stress placed on a relationship by retirement.  A marriage that was difficult when one or both spouses were working can become unbearable when two people find themselves together most of the day.

Even if they don't divorce, many people who thought their spouse was simply a little annoying before they retired now find themselves living in misery afterwards.  As a woman in her 60's, I have several married women friends who dread having their husbands retire.  They feel they will never have time to themselves again and that everything they do will be constantly critiqued and criticized ... especially if their husband starts telling them how to run the house. I have known men who suddenly began to "instruct" their wife on the right way to load the dishwasher, vacuum the carpet, or do the laundry.  Whether this is true in your relationship or not, just the fear of it often puts the wives on edge, making them irritable and unhappy about the prospect of retirement.

Another problem that can come up is that some couples may have different expectations about retirement.  For example, the wife may expect that her husband will help more with the household chores.  He may expect that she will now start playing golf or tennis with him more often.  When these things don't materialize, it can cause disappointment, resentment and bitterness.

Another common issue is social dependency.  The husband may want the wife to focus all her attention on him, especially if he has few friends now that he is no longer working.  The wife, however, may have already developed a large social group that she enjoys seeing on a regular basis.  This can also cause jealousy and resentment.

I felt this was an important topic to address in a retirement blog, so I decided to do a little research into ideas that might alleviate some of the fear and resolve many of the issues regarding marital compatibility after retirement.  An important aspect of retirement planning is to feel confident that your relationships will be pleasant, too.  While you may not want to try everything I discovered and list below, it could be worth it to at least give a few of these suggestions a try.

How to Get Along with Your Spouse After Retirement

*  Both the husband and wife should find ways to be of service.  Helping others is rewarding and especially benefits those people who feel they do not have much value after they leave their jobs.  Having self-worth is important for nearly everyone, whether they are retired or not.  In addition, being busy and having activities that give structure to your free time can make your life more enjoyable.

*  Some people who are ready to retire from their lifelong career may wish to continue to work in some other capacity.  This could mean that you keep your current job, but only do it part-time; or it may mean choosing an entirely different career.  It might even be possible to find an encore career in which you are both of service to others and earn an extra income at the same time.  The website encore.org can help you find a second career with service organizations in your area.  In addition to helping you feel of service and giving you the opportunity to interact with other people in meaningful ways, working can also relieve any financial stress that might have been brought on by retirement. 

*  Even if it requires marriage counseling, every couple needs to learn how to accommodate each other and avoid hurting each others feelings.  If you have been hurting each other for years, it could take time to re-learn the ways you used to enjoy spending time with each other.  After all, there has to be a reason why the two of you got married in the first place.  Once you manage to get back those feelings, you will be glad that you now have a kinder, gentler, more loving relationship.  If you plan to be happy during the decade or two that you are likely to live together after retirement, both people need to find ways to fulfill their social, spiritual and emotional needs within the marriage.

*  At the same time that you are working on building a better relationship with your spouse, both people also need to develop their own individual, personal interests and respect their spouse's independence.  Both of you need to have the free time to do the things that you enjoy.

*  Sit down and talk with each other about your expectations after retirement.  See which expectations you both agree to ... such as he will take responsibility for certain chores and she will join him in certain activities.  Set up a calendar so you both know what will be going on each day.  For example, on Tuesdays she plays bridge and he plays golf.  On Wednesday afternoons, they go together to a movie.  Avoid nagging your spouse to give up an activity they enjoy, simply because you want them to do the things you like.  They deserve to have time to enjoy their retirement, too!

*  Find some individual space for each person within your home.  He may want a home office; she may want a craft or sewing room ... or the opposite could be true.   Each person needs to have a place they can call "their own" within the home ... even if that space occasionally has to do double duty as a guest room for a visiting adult child.

*  Continue to read, talk to each other and learn as much as you can about how to get along after retirement.  You may both need a "refresher course" from time to time, especially after an argument or a period of high stress. In addition, you could find the articles below helpful.






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  1. These are all good suggestions for what can be a disruptive time in a couple's life. Knowing what your spouse's expectations will be after retirement will certainly set the stage for the years to come. Nice article, Deb!

  2. What a great article, and the first one I've read on this subject.


  3. To enjoy your marriage even more after retirement, I think couples should have an open communication. Have time to talk about your roles, activities, and plans before your retirement starts.
    Maintaining the communication - listening and having an open mind -- between the two of you will help you get through issues and enjoy your golden years together. Don't hesitate to tackle sensitive issues such as long term care and death, as it is one of the most challenging and stressful situation that they might experience. http://www.fpsinsurance.com/essentials/long-term-care/ says that without planning for long term care might negatively affect your family, as it can cause stress and loss of job or income. PLAN and SAVE together, through this you will enjoy your retirement TOGETHER..

  4. Communication is a very important part of being able to get along with your spouse after retirement. It's also very helpful for you to both have something to do to get away from each other from time to time too. Great suggestions here!

  5. A little annoying before they retired now find themselves living in misery afterwards. save marriage


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