March 25, 2014 — Couples might joke about it with their friends, but the nitty-gritty issues of handling a “1 person working, 1 person retired” relationship is no laughing matter. For example, one spouse might have taken early retirement and now enjoys most mornings on the golf course or drinking coffee with friends. Meanwhile his partner is working away on the job – bringing in a paycheck and having a completely different kind of day.
Every couple has to handle their own unique situation if separate retirements are part of their life together. Sometimes the situation is not by choice, as in when 1 person was forced to retire earlier. This article will give you some ideas on how to handle it gracefully.
1. Talk about it before either person retires. What is each partner’s expectation – for themselves and the other person? Try to understand each other’s motivations and needs so you are not completely surprised later on.
2. How will you handle money? In all likelihood the person who is still working will be bringing in the bacon. She might have different ideas about who should be spending it – and how. It is absolutely critical that you have developed and agreed on a budget that includes all your expected expenses and income before you decide anything. Can you afford this, and how will you get by? Discuss this all in advance.
3. Vacations. If you are the one who is retired, you have the time to travel and take extensive vacations, while your partner probably is strapped for free time. Will you go away separately, or trim down your plans to accommodate? What if one person wants to sell the existing home and move somewhere warm – how will you handle that?
4. Handling chores. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for the working person to expect that the majority of the household chores would be performed by the retiree. But what if it is the man who is retired, and he doesn’t cook – or care to clean or go to the dry cleaners? Again, setting expectations is key.
5. Midway corrections. Just as you should do during your working days, it is a good plan to set periodic feedback sessions to discuss how things are going. For example, how is the division of labor and income/spending plan coming along? You might set aside time to discuss how you both feel about 1 person retired/1 working – particularly if one person would like the other to retire. Talking about issues before they explode is usually a great idea.
Comments: Please share your experiences or expectations about how to handle the 1 working/1 retired relationship. We all would love to hear your concerns and issues, plus how you handled this complex issue. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Coping When Not Entering Retirement Together (New York Times)