Weatherford Democrat

February 24, 2013

Retiring? Talk to your family about concerns


Weatherford Democrat

— By KATHY SMITH

For many couples, retirement if long waited can be an exciting event that will allow more time for hobbies, traveling and family. However, for some they may not expect that retirement may change their relationship as well as their marriage.

For example, leaving the workforce can have a long-lasting effect on how we feel about ourselves and how we can relate to others and especially our spouse.

There is research on marital relationships that has found that retirement tends to magnify the relationship already in place. Many couples who share common interests tend to have a positive experience after retirement. However, there are many couples though who may not have a happy marriage and experience problems.

Research has shown several factors that can affect marital quality for retired couples. Here are a few examples:

• Timing of retirement: The decision about when to retire, and who retires first can have important consequences. When one spouse retires first, this can often lead to resentment and regret. Couples who usually retire at about the same time appear to adjust to retirement the most smoothly. However, these couples do have to get used to spending so much time together.

• Retirement goals: Couples who have different plans for retirement often experience more disagreements than those with the same retirement goals. For example, if one wants to spend their time traveling, but the other prefers to stay at home, there will need to be negotiation or compromise.

• Household chores: Deciding who does what in household tasks in retirement can be important for happiness. There needs to be an equal share of the responsibilities. Couples need to discuss how to handle these duties as sometimes one ends up doing most of the work, or one may feel smothered as there is not equal. 

If you or your spouse or planning to retired or are retired here are some suggestions that may help:

• Communicate openly: Communication is essential. It is important to discuss expectations, goals, and interests. Communication will enable couples to work together to plan a mutually satisfying and fulfilling retirement experiences.

• Set boundaries: Each person in a relation needs to have couple time to do things in and outside the home, but they also need personal time to pursuit hobbies, be involved in other activities or organizations.  Establishing a balance between being together and separated is important. Mutually agreeing on how to balance is important to maintaining satisfaction in retirement.

• Prepare for the loss of the work role: The loss of work due to retirement can lead to feelings of depression, a sense of having no purpose and a loss of identity in one or both spouses. These emotions can greatly impact a marital relationship and can lead to problems. Couples who recognize the significance of this loss and the importance of replacing this source of fulfillment with other activities are likely to avoid negative emotions.

• Designate household tasks: Deciding who does what household chores in retirement is more important that many couples realize. Research shows a common source of conflict for retired couples surrounds the division of labor in the home. Couples need to discuss and agree on how they will manage the responsibilities rather than assume old patterns will continue or that new changes will take place.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or kl-smith@tamu.edu.