seven steps to maintaining a good relationship in retirement

If you’re about to retire or have already retired, it’s important your relationship thrives. Not sure where to start? Take a look at these steps for maintaining a good relationship.

Whether it’s you or your partner that’s retiring, the prospect of retirement may seem exciting a first. But the truth of the matter is, retirement can be challenging and even frustrating at times.

Retirement can lead to some people losing their identity. For others, than can feel anxious about what lies ahead and how they are going to fill their time. It can also cause financial worries too because you are no longer getting the regular salary you’ve had throughout your working life.

The change in pace can put pressure on both sides, regardless of if they’ve retired or are still working. For instance, having a retired husband or male partner who doesn't pull his weight with household chores when the female partner is still working - and still doing more than her fair share at home - is a common cause of conflict. Or you may not both have the same ideas about the possibilities retirement may bring, with one partner planning to go back-packing around the world, and the other preferring to potter around at home.

However, for all the challenges retirement may pose to relationships, there are lots of measures you can adopt to make sure you both fully enjoy your retirement, starting with:

keep talking

If you don't communicate your plans, ideas and wishes honestly to your partner, it will only lead to difficulties at some point. Have a frank and open discussion about what you both expect from retirement, including how your finances will work and any budgeting you may need to do. Be sure to do this sooner, rather than later.

In fact, if you can, prepare for retirement at least five years before it actually happens. Doing this gives you enough time to develop hobbies and interests you can then continue to enjoy when you retire and have more time on your hands.

maintain your independence

If you're both retired, it doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment together, especially if you're not used to being in each other's company all of the time. Think about things you can do on your own, as well as those you can do with your partner, and decide how much time apart (and together) you need. Spend time with your old colleagues, friends and family, and make new connections by taking part in activities or voluntary work.

stay busy

If you or your partner used to live for your career, chances are you may feel a huge sense of loss when you retire. To avoid feeling as if your life no longer has any purpose, which certainly won't be good for your relationship, get involved in hobbies or other activities that you enjoy and immerse yourself in. If you’re goal-orientated, list all the things you want to achieve and put deadlines against them. This will help provide your retirement with focus and purpose.

discuss your shared interests

Are there any hobbies or activities you and your partner both enjoy? Or perhaps there are certain things you’ve both always wanted to try, but never had chance to - until now.

While you’re executing point number 1, talk to your partner about any interests you could develop together and how much time you want to dedicate to them on a weekly or monthly basis. This will help you build upon the strengths of your relationship.

keep the romance going

Just because you're spending more time together than you used to when you were working, doesn't mean the romance in your relationship has to suffer. Plan a date night at least once a week where you can go out, or stay in, and do the things you most enjoy doing. It will help you reconnect and remind each other why you are together. This can be particularly key if you’ve retired and your partner hasn’t yet, and you’re feeling lonely.

divide the household chores

Research suggests that many retired couples fall out over who does what around the house. To avoid any conflict, be clear about things, such as housework and DIY. You may, for instance, choose to carry on exactly as before you retired. Sit down and agree how you are going to manage your household responsibilities rather than assume things aren't going to change.

be flexible

While it’s good to plan for your retirement and then still continue to plan your time once you’ve retired, try not to be too rigid with your arrangements. It’s perfectly acceptable to adjust your goals as you go along, especially if they aren’t achievable at the time. For instance, the art class you want to join is oversubscribed for now and you’re on a waiting list or there’s a delay in the start date for the voluntary work you’ve signed up. The main thing is that you have some ideas in mind of how you would like to spend your retirement that you can work towards in your own time.

Retirement can test, but doesn’t have to break relationships. According to a study carried out by Greenwich University, around 70% of pensioners thought retirement had a positive effect on their relationship. Meanwhile, a US study found that generally, older couples were as happy or even happier than younger couples.

If retirement is impacting your relationship and you need some support, we work in partnership with Relate to provide free relationship support and counselling. For more information, visit https://www.relate.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/national-partnerships/caba

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We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

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