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Get More from Your Marriage

Retirement planning may be the secret to ensure that you and your spouse will be happy for years to come.


Newly retired individuals report less marital satisfaction and more conflict than those who have been retired for a long time or are still employed. Research suggests that this is because married couples often disagree about what retirement will look like once they’re there. That’s why it’s so important to plan before your retirement to ensure both you and your spouse will be in agreement—and happy for years to come. Here are four things every couple should consider.

To Work or Not to Work?
Men are more likely to envision themselves working in some capacity once they retire from their full-time jobs—possibly part-time as consultants or teachers in their field. They are also significantly more likely to say that they’d like to start their own business in retirement. Women, on the other hand, are more than twice as likely to consider their working days completely over and say that they wouldn’t go back unless there was a financial need. 

It’s important that you and your significant other honestly discuss your goals around work to avoid disappointment once retirement begins. If one of you envisions spending your days with the grandkids, while the other wants to dive into building a new business, there’s some real compromise that needs to be reached before you begin the next chapter. However, that doesn’t mean one of you needs to completely give up their retirement dream so that the other can have theirs. “Couples should remember that they are unique individuals who need different things for a happy retirement,” says Diane Nelson, market researcher, Customer Insights & Analytics at Athene. “Balance in the relationship is the key.”

Home Sweet Home
Couples in retirement tend to stay in the same roles they held during their working years. But retirement offers an opportunity to step outside of those roles and reassess how you both want to approach maintaining your household. While some couples may want to divide up chores more evenly, others might want to transition to a more maintenance-free lifestyle. Discuss what would make each of you happy and figure out solutions that will meet those needs. That may mean downsizing from your current home, or setting aside part of your monthly budget for maintenance services like lawn care or housekeeping. 

Talk About Money
“Couples absolutely need to have open discussions about how they see themselves spending—and saving—money in retirement,” says Emily Guy Birken, author of The 5 Years Before You Retire and Choose Your Retirement. It’s essential to talk not only about the actual dollar amount but also about how you’re going to use that money in retirement. For example, one partner may feel very comfortable with the idea of setting aside a larger portion of the retirement budget for travel, while the other has dreams of renovating the current home. Consider your individual retirement goals—and how you plan to support those goals financially—and come to an agreement you can both be happy with.

Spend Free Time … Apart
Research shows that what pre-retirees look forward to the most is having free time to pursue whatever it is they want to in retirement. And while retirement is a chance for couples to spend more time together than they could during their working years, that doesn’t mean they have to do everything as a pair. Finding new hobbies to pursue, both together and apart, may be the ultimate key to getting the most out of retirement and your marriage.