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Retirement-proof your relationship

Julia Faulks / 03 September 2019

How you can ensure that you keep your relationship strong while you adjust to the change of pace of life after you retire.

Retired couple hiking
Decide what you want to achieve as a couple in retirement

No couple is the same when it comes to how they view their retirement years. Where your partner may enjoy not having to go to work and relishes their free time, you may miss the company and camaraderie of colleagues and the buzz of working in a familiar setting.

“Having a shared interest or hobby will really help your relationship, but keeping yourself busy and maintaining your independence is absolutely crucial,” says Steve Allen, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly.

Reconnecting with your partner

The key to a successful retirement

A successful retirement doesn't have to mean extravagant holidays where you escape from the realities of life – it goes deeper than that - it's about the little things that make you both happy.

• Build on the strengths of your relationship by finding things you enjoy doing together while respecting the fact that you won't always want to do the same things.

• Write a list of things that you want to achieve as a couple over a set period of time and use that as a guide to follow when you get stuck for ideas.

• Look at what free time you have and consider the benefits of volunteering or mentoring when it comes to finding that all important sense of purpose. Read our guide to getting a new sense of purpose in retirement.

• Invest time in your friends so you don't just rely on your partner for companionship or to let off steam. Even if you have lost contact with old friends, before you know it you could be making new friends through a shared experience or hobby.

• Keep a check on your finances and pension so that you have a good idea how to spend, invest and budget accordingly.

What happens when we fall in love

When one person retires first

Although change can bring about a feeling of uncertainty, there is a lot to be said for the benefits that may come when one person retires before the other. With extra time to dedicate to other things than work, you could share journeys to and from work, meet for lunch, send your partner out to do the errands or get jobs done around the house.

As a result you will both be left with far more time to spend on the fun things in life, without all the pressures that come with juggling two full-time careers.

Dilemma: my husband doesn't want to retire but I'm lonely

Adjusting to retirement as a couple

With so many opportunities to learn new activities and skills or make new friends, it's important to make sure that this doesn't come in between you. 

Relationships can grow apart when a partner feels that they have been made redundant in the relationship, so if you're too busy taking on new ventures or building your social network then it’s important to take stock of what made you want to be with

Four ways to have a great retirement with your partner

Step one: dream

Arrange a moment when you are both feeling relaxed and dream a little. Find two large pieces of paper and each one of you make a list individually to start with.

What are some of the activities you would love to spend time doing, whether together or separately? Have you planned to learn a new skill, undertake a new hobby, travel, garden, sing, dance? Would you like to spend more time with your children or grandchildren? Do you have friends to visit?

Perhaps there are stately homes or gardens you would like to see. Have you always wanted to go to the Lake District, or walk the Cornish coastal route? Museums, lectures, concerts can be inexpensive ways of keeping your mind alert and interested.

Step two: share

Once you have made your individual list start to share the ideas and circle the ones you have in common. Agree a principle whereby you will not criticise the other person's ideas. Listen with an open mind, support their dream even if it does not tally with your own - you can always work out a compromise later.

Step three: agree on three things

You do not have to shape the whole of your retirement in this first session but make a start with agreeing three things you would like to do together and one or two things you might want to do separately.

Step four: be flexible

Realise that you can always adjust your decisions as the months go by but it is good to have some things to look forward to.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.