Retirement is among the most stressful life transitions, and not just for the retiree. In a companion article, I shared my reactions to my husband’s retirement from full-time work and the launching of his new, part-time career. Six months into it, we’re still figuring it all out.
Here are a few tips that have made the process easier for us.
- Take time to put your hopes, dreams, worries, and fears on the table. Even before Paul got serious about retiring, we spent lots of time talking about what we wanted to do once the boys were launched. These are important conversations. Set aside blocks of time to talk without distractions. For example, plan a weekend “retreat” when you agree to let the phone ring and the computer stay idle so you can focus on each other and the conversation. Take notes!
- Meet with a financial planner together. Even though your spouse may be the one who is retiring, it will affect you both. We had a series of meetings over the six months before Paul retired. Going together helped us keep our facts straight and made it feel like a joint endeavor.
- Give any second career a trial run before retiring. Paul started doing carpentry for others a few days a month while still at his regular job. (His schedule gave him every other Friday off.) Not only did this allow him to see how much he liked it, it also gave me a chance to see how happy he was doing it.
- Set clear boundaries. If you work at home and your spouse is spending more time there, let him know that you will be working. Paul and I discuss our plans for the day over breakfast. If I have a scheduled phone interview, for example, I’ll let him know when it’s taking place to prevent interruption. Otherwise, we’ll ask each other, “Is this a good time?” if we need to talk while the other is working.
- Share the chores, but remember there is more than one way to do them! I am lucky—my spouse has always been willing to share housework. But he doesn’t always do things the way I would. Communication and compromise are the watchwords here. If you are both spending more time at home—together—divide up the household chores, set some mutually agreed-on ground rules, and accept that there is more than one way to load the dishwasher. You might also want to agree on how often certain chores need to be done. After all, nobody wants to nag or be nagged about cleaning the bathroom.
And here are three resources that we found useful.
6 Tips on Planning a Second Career. U.S. News & World Report.
This article provides a starting point for those considering a second career. The advice includes resources for researching both occupational and educational opportunities. We found the tips on upgrading skills and education and networking to be quite helpful, but my favorite was, “Don’t let your age get in the way.”
Working After Retirement: Advice from AARP.
This section of the AARP website includes articles that run the gamut from “10 Great Cities for Retirement” to “Starting a Business over 50” and “Great Home-Based Jobs.” Paul and I also used this website to learn more about retirement planning and Social Security.
This short, research-based piece by a gerontology specialist lays out the impact of retirement on a couple’s relationship. It includes some of the pitfalls partners may experience during retirement, and offers several suggestions for avoiding them.