When you envision your retirement, you probably think about all the blissful times that you’ll get to spend with your spouse. After all, you now have all the time in the world to spend together and do whatever you want, whenever you want.
While this can certainly be a happy time, the extra time together can actually cause stress on some retired couples’ marriages. This may be due to the fact that some couples were drifting apart before retirement, but were just too busy to notice. When they were working and raising a family they also had other things to occupy their time. This extra time together may present challenges, but none that can’t be overcome with some work and honest discussion.
Here are some ways to have a great marriage in retirement.
Share your vision and make a plan before you retire
Don’t wait until day one of your retirement to talk about your marriage. Ideally, conversations about what you envision your retirement will look like together should start months (or even years) before. Maybe you want to travel and your spouse wants to be more of a homebody. Whatever the case may be, knowing your partner’s wishes ahead of time can help you avoid a lot of stress. When you have time to make a plan, you can hopefully come to a compromise.
Explore new hobbies and interests together
If you want to strengthen your bond and spend some of your new free time together, check out new hobbies and interests. Perhaps you’ve both wanted to take an art class or try yoga. Retirement is a great time to explore new activities together, and doing so will give you something new to share, which can also bring a little excitement into your relationship.
Have a purpose
It’s very important for retirees to have a purpose. My belief is that one of the best ways to live with purpose is to volunteer in retirement, and retirement is a great time to volunteer! Many times couples are so focused on their careers and family that they may not have had time to volunteer. Talk together and determine what causes mean the most to you as a couple. Volunteering together can be a very rewarding experience. For more on this topic, check out my post on skills-based volunteering.
Give each other space to pursue individual activities and have separate friends
While you can certainly explore new hobbies and volunteer as a couple, retirement doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking moment together. In fact, it’s probably better not to; the key is to find a balance. Give your spouse space to do things alone. Have different interests so that when you come together again you have things to talk about and share. While you may have friends together as a couple, it is a good idea to also have your own individual friends. Just because you go to lunch with your friends (or vice versa) doesn’t mean you don’t love your spouse; it means you are living a healthy life where you don’t rely on your spouse to fulfill your happiness.
Retirement is full of changes and it will take time to adjust. As long as you have an open dialogue you can explore all of the opportunities that retirement has to offer for you and your spouse while still having a great marriage.