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Most folks romanticize retirement as a time of well-earned freedom filled with new and exciting passions.

But it’s also a sudden change that can put a lot of stress on your relationship with your significant other. That’s especially true when you have different expectations of what your golden years will look like.

Changed routines, too much time together, or lack of communication can all spark conflicts.

On the bright side, planning ahead, honest discussion, and a willingness to compromise can bring you closer to each other and make your relationship even deeper in your Golden Years.

In this episode, you’ll discover the best practices to prepare for the next chapter and navigate the inevitable changes that come with retirement.

Listen now!

Show Highlights Include:

  • Two major considerations that’ll help you create a realistic routine in retirement and ease the shock that comes with the transition (2:27)
  • How creating new routines helps you avoid conflicts with your spouse in your golden years (and why it’s better to have a plan 5-10 years before your transition) (3:25)
  • The “wheel of life” exercise to discover your priorities and craft a shared vision for your retirement with your partner (5:33)
  • A fun game that helps you pinpoint the areas of disagreements before they turn into real-life conflicts (10:28)

Thinking about what your typical week in retirement will look like? Download our Ideal Week in Retirement planner.

Read Full Transcript

Want to finally stop working and retire in peace. It's about more than quitting work and living off your savings in retirement reimagined. You'll discover how to have a fulfilled retirement that lets you enjoy travel, family time and freedom. And now here are your hosts, Ron Bernstein and Nicole Sullivan.

(00:24): Hello and welcome to retirement reimagined. My name is Nicole Sullivan. I'm a financial planner and the co-founder and director of financial planning at prism planning partners. And today I am joined by the managing member of our firm and my good friend, Ron Bernstein. Hi Ron,

(00:41): How are you, Nicole? How's everything on your end. I'm doing so well. How about you? Great. I'm really excited about this topic today. This will be an interesting one. Oh absolutely. I think it's one that a lot of people can relate to regardless of if they're retired or not, especially coming off of COVID the theme for today's episode is spouses in my retire retirement. Sorry. My significant other is driving me crazy And they may have been driving you crazy way before this. So I'm not gonna assume anything cuz every household has their own stick. So I'm just interested to see how more recent events, uh, coming out of the pandemic and as well as we transition into retirement, how this, this works for everybody. So let's get at it.

(01:28): It's just funny with working from home and both my husband and I were in our early thirties. We both permanently work from a home. Now we've experienced little twinges of this. My parents actually retired during COVID and they're also experiencing little twinges of this. So we're kind of, uh, all navigating this transition together a little bit. So let's just kind of jump into what changes when both you and your spouse transition from working full time to being retired full time.

(01:57): I really don't yet. I'm not there thankfully, but there's a lot that can possibly change here. And, and the first is really the dynamics around the, the stay at home spouse who, who was working and then eventually finds their way back into the household. It's a huge disruption, especially when you're dealing with a lot of discretionary time and everyone has gotten into their routines. Now that's all been disrupted and it's anybody's guess how that's gonna play out, but it just warrants dialogue and having discussions around this ahead of time, for sure

(02:27): Retirement, as we preach many, many times in this podcast, but it's a major life transition. And I think an issue that new retirees face is that lack of structure. Right? I think it's important to remember that if there is a spouse that's been maybe primarily handling the household concerns, raising kids, dealing with the inevitable flux of people that have to come to your house to maintain things and fix things and blah, blah, blah. Like there's a structure, there's a routine there. And so if you're all of a sudden introducing your significant other into the day to day mix and routine, it can be really challenging and it's important to be respectful of each other. Yeah. Cuz there's disruption and the social hierarchy too, because as a working professional, you probably had a lot of associates, uh, that used to hang out with and talked to on a regular basis, right. Uh, that goes away. So there's this huge vacuum that needs to be filled. And then it really is a question of who's gonna be the person to do it or

(03:25): Persons. Right. And you know, thinking about it. I just think about my own life too. Your spouse is your better half your other half and kind of always the default for entertainment. Hey honey, what are we doing this weekend? Hey honey, do we have any plans? That's cool when it's free time and social time weekends, but I think day to day, it, it could be really annoying having somebody follow you around 24 7. I know I'd be annoyed. I love my husband dearly, but if he was following me around in micromanaging, my Workday now I'd be really annoyed.

(03:58): no doubt. And it goes both ways for sure. And structure is something that's, we're all attuned to and clamor for. And when there is that level of disruption that occurs in a very suddenly in some cases I will say problem that we encountered a lot with the pandemic in this whole work from home transition is, is that a lot of these houses just were not set up for it, right? You know, where you had designated work areas or the ability to be able to get that separation. So you've had to really start to figure out how to reconfigure households. When now you have two people home full time, as opposed to one possibly

(04:33): I hope that maybe things will get a little bit easier for people who retire in five years or 10 years. Because I think that a lot of our houses have to adapt to working from home. That's also probably triggered a lot of people moving and reevaluating their living situations, which frankly could be a whole separate podcast in and of itself. I think really the next point we wanna make sure to tackle is how do you go about developing a new routine both together and apart once you've reached retirement

(05:01): And this just doesn't happen overnight? Um, I, I, I think there would be a rush to say, listen, I gotta figure this out and know that in time it starts to come into focus, but this'll be an exercise. And one that I think both spouses should really have a hand in, in talking about together because, um, happiness, when it comes to also just being tacitly distracted, by being able to go out and do other things, whether it's hobbies, uh, maybe taking on some other job or whatever, or get active in the community, be of value. And that does take time to, to formulate

(05:33): And something that we like to do with couple clients, especially in our financial planning meetings is an activity called the wheel of life. And what this really does is helps each individual express and even visualize what areas of life they really value most and what areas of life they really potentially want to improve on. It's a big round wheel with a whole bunch of spokes, about 10 different spokes, each one representing a certain area of life, family, friends, leisure time, inner growth, things like that. And what we ask people to do is rate kind of on a scale of one to 10, how satisfied they feel with each facet of life. So if you're very close to the middle of the wheel, that's kind of like a one, like you're not quite so satisfied, but if you're more on the outer portion of the wheel that might represent a nine or a 10, a bit of a stronger area of satisfaction.

(06:29): And then when we ask our clients to connect those dots, we can have some really interesting conversations around how well does your wheel role, how balanced are you feeling? What areas might you want to work on to just kind of improve? And it's always such a fascinating conversation when we, uh, share with the other spouse, maybe a priority, be it in retirement or even prior to retirement is helping your significant other feel more balanced in, in certain areas. We can give a whole host of examples on how, on some of the fabulous conversations that we've had around this activity. But again, it is just so important I think, to have these conversations around values and really how you wanna spend your time prior to retiring.

(07:15): And when I did the activity, it's very interesting how certain components of that wheel are. Non-negotiable one of the areas for me, especially ongoing has always been on that health and wellness piece of it. Cuz I feel like foundationally, that is the key component to making everything else work. And when you're taking inventory of all these aspects of your life and figuring out how you should be allocating your time and resources, make sure you have to your point a, a real sense of what your priorities are. And, and if your health is something that you've let kind of slip through the cracks over the course of the years, then clearly that's something that actually a great activity for both spouses to get involved in because I think that's a universal need.

(07:58): Oh certainly. And I think as well too, just helping support your spouse if he or she is lacking in a particular area. The example that actually came to mind was with a younger couple husband and wife did this activity together and wife was really struggling, balancing work and motherhood. And just some other ambitions that she had as planners. We were able to have a conversation with this couple and figure out a way for wife to transition to a less stressful job. And they've just been so happy because of the career change that wife made. Again, this is how some emotional on the surface non-financial topics can really have a big influence on a family and on finances at some point.

(08:43): And that's a critical point because we always give off this impression that money or finances can cure all ills. And, and that's certainly never the case, especially when you're dealing with the emotional piece of relationships, whether it be in the home or outside. And then additionally, just life satisfaction being feeling as though you're have a purposeful life and there's a lot of balance in it. And that's why I, once again, this wheel of life is a fantastic exercise in which to start drilling down on some of those components.

(09:13): And if anybody listening is interested in this, feel free to reach out to us. We'd be happy to, to talk with you and show you a little bit more about how this works Summarizing this. I think cuz there's a lot there since a noodle on it's really all about, I believe setting up a nice path of, of having a dialogue with your spouse and getting in the habit of being open and honest about all matters concerning each of 'em as we make this transition. And, and more time is spent actually in a household setting than it has been previously.

(09:44): And that's the thing you say, and this is true. I hope of many happy marriages that your spouses, as I said, your better half and the person that you love and wanna spend every single day with, but you need to be realistic. You need to have some of these conversations in advance that even in the best marriages, if you're together 24 7, if you fail to kind of plan and have some of these routines in place, you are gonna end up driving each other crazy at some point. And we're just pointing that out right now. And, and I think for where we're at, yes, as planners, we can help solve certain aspects of it, but we're certainly also here to be able to help spur some of that, um, communication between the two. And we certainly have these wonderful activities as well, that can, um, go a long way to, to make that happen.

(10:29): And on that note, I did want to kind of wrap up today by talking about a wonderful activity that we would love to make available to all of the listeners of our podcast here that goes in conjunction actually with the wheel of life that we've referenced. But this is called the week in retirement planner. And what that is is essentially a blank calendar of seven days of the week, morning, afternoon, and evening. And what we would encourage each spouse to do is download this activity and complete independently. So what do you as an individual want to do? And what would an ideal week look like in your retirement complete these separately and then compare and see where there might be some differences in an ideal retirement where there might be some overlap. And again, this isn't designed to be the, be all and end all structure to how you're gonna live your retirement. But I think it provides some really great talking points around what each member of a couple might be hoping to accomplish and, and what gives them value once they've entered retirement.

(11:30): And it's always a great activity to do periodically just to see if your priorities have been, have changed at all, or you wanna reset them. So I would encourage folks as well, that this is always a point in time, as well as the way of life as, as long as we're going down that path, uh, that, uh, these are things that we would love to see these folks do every once in a while, because clearly life is fluid. And because of that, you know, circumstances could change and, and it could also recalibrate priorities long term.

(11:59): Absolutely. Well, Ron, thank you so much for the conversation today. If anyone out there has any questions or wants to learn more about this topic, I'd love to direct you to our website, which is prism planning, partners.com. We have a host of resources on there. We have blogs videos, eBooks guides, lots and lots of information about a host of different retirement topics. And as well, if you have any questions or would like to reach out to Ron or myself, I'll make sure that we have our contact information listed in the show notes. And on a final note too, we are really getting some good rhythm and routine with this podcast. And I just wanna let you know that we release a new episode every Thursday. So please subscribe if you like this podcast and make sure to check us out on Thursdays.

(12:47): And of course we would always love to hear from you because we're open to suggestions as far as topics of future episodes. So we're here for you and we just wanna make sure that we're touching on those areas that are, are critical to you at this point in time. Thank you so much, Ron. Really appreciate it. Appreciate it as well. Nicole, take care. Everyone Take care. Bye-bye

(13:21): This program is brought to you by the podcast factory.com.

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