There are so many seasons of marriage I thought after over 30 years I had seen them all, but I found out that I was so wrong. Believe it or not there is yet another hurdle that married couples are facing now. That hurdle is retirement. Who knew that one day this could be a problem. For those of you who are not a baby boomer you are not faced with this dilemma so you could save this post for that time way in the future or you could read this and understand that proper communication is needed during every phase of marriage.
My husband and I as you well know are baby boomers. We are nearing retirement age. I personally want to retire yesterday and he wants to work until he drops. So where is the problem with that you ask? With us actually there isn't any. He knows that while I may stop working my full time job that I have enough going to equal three full time jobs and my nature is such that I will keep my part time job until I feel I no longer need to shop as if my life depended on it. But again we had to talk about how each other felt about this. My husband feels that he does not want us to struggle after attempting to do things the right way all these years. I feel the same way but I need to have the time to do my other endeavors while still working for support but not full time.
We came to a happy compromise because we knew that everyone had to be on the right page. I informed him that my body can't take the full time work outside of the home anymore. Ok people those who know me take a seat because I'm about to say something that will knock you to your knees....here goes...after all these years I suddenly want to be a housewife and take care of my husband in our empty nest...I know who is this woman!!! But all jokes aside this is where I find myself today. I want to do the work of God, run my little business, blog and write the great American novel in that order.
As a leader in marriage and relationship many couples are having a difficult time with this issue. According to the latest poles 62% of the married couples who are nearing retirement age disagree on the timing of their retirement. That is over 50%. Many wives who have come in the workforce later in life is just not ready. They are just beginning to peak in their careers. Depending on the age of the couple the one who is the oldest (and in most cases that is the man) that person is getting to the point where they are tired of going out each day and it's taking a toll on their health. Their attitude is becoming negative and the couple begin to have trouble with the marriage.
The younger one who still has to work or still wants to work feels that the one who wants to retire will become lazy and complacent. That person will not be able to pull his/her weight and that their standard of living will be greatly compromise. Resentment of the retired one's easy life style or feeling that the other person is living off the one who is working will bring about feelings of resentment and soon the couple begins to drift apart.
Some couples still have children in college that they are paying for or started their family late and may still have some children at home. The one still working outside of the home will feel abandoned. When you first get married this is not an issue that you think about. I know we didn't. I always felt that one day both of us would just retire at the same time and have fun. Or create a new source of income using our gifts that we never had time to use as we went out to work for someone else. I thought we would have all our ducks in a row and we would live happily ever after.
What fairytale was I looking at? Planning for your marital retirement should take place at the beginning of your marriage. You want to be in a good financial picture and you want to know how each other feels about their retirement goals. With our current economy many people are working longer than they had planned and thats understandable however one member of the couple should not place and ultimatum on the other member if that person feels its time for retirement. You have to work for the betterment of the marriage.
As we always state when you can't completely agree than it is good to agree to disagree. Seek help so that both will understand how each of you feel on the matter. Then attempt to compromise. In our case I did state that I would keep a steady part time income for as long as I could until our other adventures or retirement benefits kicked in. I would never do anything that would put undo strain on our marriage and relationship. Along with that a new lifestyle in budgeting would have to be adopted as well.
Once you have discussed when and how you want to retire then you need to have a plan on what you would do once you retire. Ok after the first two weeks of doing nothing but sleeping you need to come up with something else that will stimulate you and to help improve your health. We have already got back in the gym, have a house self renovation plan, ministry, and home business plan that we both want to do. I for one will remain very busy but not half as busy as I am now.
Many say that most people retire one year and the next year they are ill or dead. That really is not the plan if you remember that life does go on after you give up your day job. Its time to have fun and work in other ways. Make that record you always wanted. Learn how to speak another language, or learn how to play an instrument. Volunteer to help the needy or to teach a senior or a child how to read. There is so much to do just remain active. Plan to spend more time with your love ones.
Plan to spend as much time as you can with your spouse. The spouse thats still working don't expect a house slave and the one who's retired don't lay back and rest feeling as if you have paid your dues. Support each other in ways that you never had time to do before. As I said I never really had the time to just be a wife. It will be fun (for a little while until I wake up and discover that I'm not June Cleaver!!!) but for the most part I'm sure my husband will appreciate me for having this in his life and will try and make my life easy as well.
So just to add another phase to your very full marital lifetime. If you manage to stay married or even remarried by the time you hit middle age just remember there is still one more hurdle you two have to jump over....see it won't be so bad because you already know about it!!!