Couples and Retirement

by TTMK on April 19, 2012 · 2 comments

In terms of retirement, the idea of a couple riding off into the sunset for a life of relaxation, travel, and/or time to enjoy family is appealing to many people.  Of course, in order for that to happen, they both have to be retired, right?

Well, that might be happening less and less these days, with two-income households more common now than in years gone past.  I came across an interesting article in the WSJ touching on the topic of couples and retirement.  These are people who are grappling with how to agree upon when to retire.

There were a few interesting examples that were shared, reflecting different points of view.  One that jumped out at me was a couple where the guy was 7 years older, and wanting to retire.  However, his wife noted that it would be “annoying not to have someone pulling their weight. I realize he’s older. But…”  The husband states “My body feels the way it feels”.  The guy also has a 2 hour commute and he’s in his 60’s.

You know, I couldn’t imagine hearing such things when wanting to retire at that age. It seems as though anyone of that age who wants to quit should do so without any resentments from anyone else. But it’s interesting how people can grow old with different thoughts on timing. Maybe people of a different age have different views? Or, perhaps people in general might each have their own unique vision of when to retire and how that would look like?

I have a friend whose wife wants to leave the workforce early, which shouldn’t be a big deal since they’ve done very well.  Now, there are some assumptions in there that she’s making that are questionable and another topic for another post, but the bottom line is that they’re doing well and keep joint finances.   However, he wants to work until he has no capacity to bring in money anymore, and is showing signs of resentment already at her “lax” view.   Keep in mind that her time frame is still 15 years from now, and his is probably 25 years from now. So, it’s not even an imminent issue yet but it’s still generated a few minor annoyed comments.

It seems hard to understand, for me, how people can be so controlling of a spouse – wife or husband – that they expect the other person to keep working into old age even if they don’t want to.

Some other interesting stats that were noted in the article:

  • 73% of couples have trouble don’t agree on whether or not they have developed a detailed retirement income plan (note: I totally believe this, because many people don’t even know what money they have, retirement or not!)
  • 62% do not agree on their expected ages for retirement
  • 47% do not agree on the topic of continuing to work in retirement

My takeaways:

  • Communicate.  It’s important to keep talking over the years, and stay in tune with one another’s interests and the family financial situation. Sometimes these interests can evolve and change,  which makes it especially important to communicate so that nobody is caught off guard
  • Compromise.  The willingness to see the other person’s point of view seems to be a big deal, don’t you think? Then, once you can acknowledge that point of view, be willing to work together to take it along with yours to come up with a joint plan that both can decide to be live with happily.

My Questions for You

Do you think that it’s important to communicate and be willing to compromise in terms of when retirement will happen for a couple and each person in the partnership?

What would you do if your partner wanted to retire earlier than you, or wanted you to retire along with them?

Taking another view, what about if your partner wanted you to keep working beyond the timeframe you had for yourself?

Have you known people who have retired at different ages?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MyMoneyDesign April 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

Unfortunately, I fall into that 73% statistic. If you asked my wife, she would not know how to answer about our retirement plans. And that’s nothing against her; she just simply leaves all the planning to me. Fortunately we both agree on when to do it – as early as possible! But to complicate things just a hair, we may each still take on volunteer work or part time work (aka not traditional jobs).


TTMK May 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm

MMF – We all have our strengths that may be different from one another, but agreeing is important as you allude to. Good for you to think about volunteer work later!


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