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The 7 Most Common Marriage Problems after Retirement

How has your relationship been over the past 20 plus years? Marriage problems after retirement have led to divorce rates doubling since the 1990's for those over 50. Remaining happily married for the older generation is no longer a given.  Sharing half a life-time of working and raising children, some couples are shocked to discover how far apart they have drifted.  They may have masked or ignored it, until one day they feel like strangers and gray divorce is a very real possibility.

Once you retire, it becomes a crossroad to where we begin the next twenty to thirty years of our lives.  If your partner doesn’t share in your hopes and dreams, the matrimonial union will become unhappy.  Each of us has our own expectations.  Some envision traveling the world; whereas others prefer staying home living a quiet lifestyle.

1. Effective Communication to Avoid Marriage Problems After Retirement

Probably the single most important predictor of a successful married life is open and meaningful communication. Especially in this new life stage, it becomes paramount to understand your partner’s desires and fears. 

For example, if your husband was forced into retiring early  from a position of authority that he loved, it is highly possible he is still angry and struggling with a loss of identity. If he is unable to express these feelings to you, his wife, she may soon come to resent his moodiness. 

2. Planning and Preparation

Prior to retiring, you have ideally discussed and achieved some semblance of a game plan. Unfortunately, most people focus on financial planning with only superficial discussion on their expectations of what the future will look like.

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This ties back to effective communication as the couple may be nowhere near being on the same page. One may be thinking of reducing costs and relocating closer to the grandkids. The other may be planning a grandiose world cruise. Everyone has dreams of how they want to live their Golden Years and there needs to be alignment.

3. Financial Freedom

Whereas infidelity is generally cited as the number one reason for divorce, financial troubles remain a strong second. Once you retire, relationships can become strained by the shock of surviving on a fixed income. When your savings are not as large as desired, anxiety about the future can develop. If one partner spends more freely, it will likely lead to arguments and conflict.

With the rising costs of accommodation, utilities, food, etc., many begin having concerns whether they will outlive their savings. In addition, they have more time to pursue activities and do the things they want, yet all this costs money.

4. When to Retire

Seldom do both partners retire at the same time. Even the best laid plans can go completely awry if one partner is forced into retiring early. Instead of entering starting their new chapter of life together, one spouse still needs to go to work each day. The retiree needs to find a way to fill their days. Depending upon the situation, the working spouse may now need to delay retiring to improve their financial position. This situation becomes ripe for marriage problems after retirement.

Alternatively, the working spouse may love their job and have no desire to retire anytime soon. The retiree may be at loose ends on how to spend their days. This leads to disagreements and unhappiness, when these are supposed to be the best years of our life.

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5. Time Together

The big day has finally arrived and you are both officially retired. Very few couples can actually spend all their time together without feeling stifled. It is important to understand that time apart becomes essential to maintaining a strong healthy relationship. Usually the woman has a more developed social network of friends and activities. Most men, in contrast, don’t have as robust a network and need outside interests to extend their friendships.

There will be activities you enjoy together. Happily married couples have fun and share quality time. Regular “date nights” consist of a romantic evening at home or getting out on the town. Socializing with other couples is another great way of keeping active.

6. Family Obligations

The influence of family often defines how and where we spend our time. Family can include adult children, grandchildren, aging parents, siblings, and nieces / nephews. While family is important, they can also become a source of on-going frustration if your spouse is not fully onboard.  For instance, allowing yourself to become the permanent babysitter for grandchildren or the primary care giver for an aging parent can wreak havoc on plans in your golden years. 

What if an adult child needs to move home due to unemployment or other issues? As noble as these intentions might be, they can drive a wedge in the relationship. Your partner may feel they have earned a good retired life and may have very different views on these obligations.

7. Health Issues

We are the most healthy and active in the early years of retiring. This is the time in life to experience all those things on your “bucket list”. We become more aware of our limitations and the need to do things while we are still able. Your spouse may not be interested or have completely different things they desire.

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What if your partner constantly complains about their aches and pains? They may legitimately be in pain; however, very few people will stay in such a negative atmosphere. This also become an unwelcome reminder that we are getting older. For some, this can lead to a midlife crisis. In their minds, they justify that being with someone younger will make them feel younger.

Closing Thoughts

Remaining aware of the seven most common marriage problems after retirement happy and vibrant. Planning and preparation, discussions on how you will spend your retired life and other future obligations should be discussed to make sure you know each other's expectations and hopes for the future.

Communication is the answer. Talking to your spouse and making sure you are both in alignment and agreement will go a long way to making sure conflicts are stopped before they even start.