Many couples spend years looking forward to retirement and being able to spend more time together. The reality of retirement, however, is that it can be a time of stress and conflict in a marriage. A study published in the "Journal of Family Issues" found that only 59 percent of retired couples were both satisfied with their retirement. Often, one person is unhappy at this stage of life, and women are often the partner most affected. Ronald J. Manheimer, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, notes in an article on Forbes.com that women fear losing their personal identity and being responsible for entertaining and taking care of their husband after he retires.
Establish and re-negotiate boundaries and roles in your marriage. The first years of retirement are similar to the first years of marriage. It is crucial to define what you will purse together as a couple and what you will pursue individually. A common complaint of women with a retired spouse is feeling that they are losing their individuality. Plan activities together, such as a weekly social group, vacations or home improvement projects. Designate other activities that you will each do on your own, such as volunteering in the community, taking a course or pursuing a hobby.
Agree on how household tasks and roles will be divided. The division of labor in the home is a common cause of conflict in retired couples. Women who have been responsible for most of the household chores might feel like their husbands should make a greater contribution now that they are retired. In addition, your workload will increase now that your husband is home all day. Sit down and have a conversation about reassigning household responsibilities. Give each other the opportunity to choose specific tasks, such as grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning a certain area. Dividing domestic work will ease your load and give you both time to work on tasks on your own.
Choose a space in your home that you can make your own and where you can spend private time. Having your husband home all the time might feel like a burden, especially if you are used to having the house to yourself. It is important for each of you to have a place where you can work or relax without being disturbed. If there are empty bedrooms in your home, you can each choose one and make it your "personal area." It doesn't matter if you turn it into a yoga retreat, a gym or a home office, the important thing is that it is a place that belongs to you. Ask your spouse to respect your personal area and avoid disturbing you when you are spending time there. If you don't have any empty rooms, create your space in a specific area by placing a desk, futon or even a curtain to separate it from the rest of the room, or "public space."
- Understand that you both have different goals and expectations about retirement. It is important to communicate and accept each other's wants and needs. Be willing to negotiate and find a common ground.
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