I married you for love – not lunch!

Are you loving – or loathing – the thought of spending lots more time with your partner after retirement?!

There’s nothing like suddenly being thrown together 24/7 to really shine a spotlight on your relationship. And the results are not always positive, as anyone who’s ever holidayed with a warring couple will confirm!

Retirement expert Barry LaValley believes many of the issues which arise between couples following retirement occur because of their differing views on what retirement will be like. The good news is that, with a little foresight and honest discussion, most of these can be avoided.

Here’s his list of key likely conflicts, and how to avoid them:

  1. Competing and conflicting plans – some couples do virtually everything together, others are like ships passing in the night. There is no right or wrong to this as long as it works for you both. However, regardless of how much time you plan to spend together in retirement, it is important you create some space in the relationship that is just for you.
  2. Independence and identity – it is also important to realise that you are not just a couple retiring, but two individuals moving into the next phase of your life. And it’s an inescapable fact that one of you will ultimately end up facing life as a single person. So try not to give up maintaining your own identity.
  3. ‘Pink’ vs ‘Blue’ jobs – hopefully less of an issue now than in the past! This can be an opportunity for real growth on both sides if handled sensibly and openly. For example, many men today take up cooking in retirement and find it very enjoyable and rewarding – and so do their wives!
  4. Health Challenges – Barry’s most important piece of advice here is ‘Health challenges are a part of ageing, so don’t put off anything for the future – if you get the chance to take that exciting trip or participate in a sporting event, do it now!’
  5. Ageing and Appearance – we are all getting older, with all that entails. But we can all help stem the tide by practising healthy ageing principles – in fact that should be a big part of anyone’s Retirement Transition Plan. We can resort to pills, creams and surgery to make us feel young, or we can use our minds to see ourselves as young despite the physical changes. 60 is the new 40 after all!

There are a number of other key areas which need to be addressed as a couple if you want your retirement journey to be enriching and enjoyable. The main ones are communication, emotional challenges and dealing with change. We will examine these further next month.

Taken from the book ‘So you think you’re ready to retire’ written by Canadian retirement lifestyle authority Barry LaValley and adapted for New Zealand by Christchurch Financial Consultants Cambridge Partners Ltd.

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