Retirement is one of the most treasured seasons of our lives. After working hard for decades, it’s a time to shift gears away from work and more toward the things that bring you joy—spending time with people you love and participating in activities and pastimes that make you smile.
When it comes to preparing for retirement, the bulk of our attention often falls on financial planning. However, our financial health is also intimately related to our personal relationships and emotional mindset. As renowned marriage expert Esther Perel puts it: “The quality of your life ultimately depends on the quality of your relationships.”
Getting on the same page with your partner is vital for keeping your marriage going strong through retirement and beyond. What’s their vision for retirement? And does it mesh with your own? The sooner you explore these topics together, the better you’ll be able to navigate discrepancies and shape a retirement that feels right for both of you.
Ask Yourself What an Ideal Retirement Looks Like for You
When the time comes to exit your career, how would you love to spend your days? It’s a big question, so take your time answering. You may discover that traveling or retiring abroad is on your bucket list. Others may be excited to finally have the time to dig into hobbies new and old, which might involve taking classes or syncing up with local meetup groups.
Having worked with couples for decades, the one thing I know for sure is that retirement looks different for everyone. When you close your eyes and envision your ideal retirement, what does it look like? If you aren’t sure, that’s ok too. Focus on the feeling you want to embody during your retirement years, along with the general pace of life you’d like to have.
Share Your Retirement Vision with Your Partner—and Be Ready to Compromise
Once that picture comes into focus for both you and your partner, set aside some time to share your retirement visions with one another. You might find a lot of overlaps and shared desires, as well as some disconnects. For example, one partner may want to sell the house and move to a condo on the beach, while the other prefers to stay put and continue hosting big family dinners at home. If you come across divides in how you want to live during retirement, now is the time to talk about them and find middle ground. Otherwise, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise down the road that breeds tension and resentment. Compromising may require both of you to tweak your vision for retirement in order to meet each other halfway.
Retirement is an exciting time where couples should plan adventures together and find new ways to connect and renew their bond. Don’t be afraid to try new things together and take turns planning new adventures. The goal is to find things you can share and enjoy together. Even if you initially feel frustrated over having to adjust your retirement vision, remember that your spouse is doing the same. At the end of the day, you both want the same things in life—it’s all about having the right mindset.
After coming up with a joint retirement vision that feels right for the both of you, the next step is communicating it to your financial advisor. They can help you take that big picture and create a financial strategy for getting you there, no matter what it looks like.
Continue Prioritizing Your Relationship
Creating your shared vision for retirement is a wonderful thing, but it often falls flat for couples who don’t nurture their marriage along the way. A long-term relationship isn’t a static thing. Instead, it’s a dynamic interplay that’s continually evolving as each person grows and changes over time. This is why it’s so important to continue investing in your marriage, both emotionally and financially, especially if you have children. When you’ve been together for years, or even decades, it’s easy to put things on autopilot and forget to prioritize the relationship. Unfortunately, that’s when the most important parts of a marriage—trust, loyalty, respect and understanding—can really be tested.
Investing in your relationship may mean committing to couples therapy, which can be the single best investment you ever make. Spending $10,000 to $20,000 a year here may give you sticker shock at first, but it can be an amazing resource that helps you gain a deeper level of understanding for yourself, your partner, and your relationship. It also pales in comparison to the financial and emotional toll a divorce often takes.
One of the saddest experiences I have as a financial advisor is having to help a couple find their way through separation. More often than not, I see couples who still have a lot of love for one another but are mired in miscommunication and feelings of distance. The tools for mending heartache and shoring up the marriage are usually right at their fingertips, if only they’d throw down their swords.
With that said, some marriages do naturally run their course. When this happens, both parties generally feel a sense of relief and agree that it’s best to part ways. One important note: If you’re in a situation where there’s been abuse or neglect, documenting everything is key. Protecting yourself financially comes down to being able to tell your story while backing it up with facts and dates. The silver lining is that divorce can be a new beginning where you’re free to shape a retirement that’s truly aligned with your values.
Retirement is an exciting chapter in any relationship. It’s also something that can get tricky if you and your partner aren’t on the same page in terms of what you want. Connecting with an experienced financial advisor who’s also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can help you find your way and shape a retirement that sets the stage for connection and new adventures. Contact JJ Burns & Company today to set up a free consultation.
couples finances financial planning for couples