Surviving Retirement as a Couple

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miriam goodmanMy radio guest, Miriam Goodman, is an author, award-winning radio and television producer, and pr consultant. She created the first nationally syndicated feminist radio program, and is a frequent contributor to NPR. She produced television features for Newsweek Broadcasting and the SF NBC TV-affiliate, earning two EMMY nominations. She’s a columnist for examiner.com. Ms. Goodman’s book, Reinventing Retirement: 389 bright ideas about Family, Friends, Health, What to Do and Where to Live is a comprehensive baby boomers guide to all aspects of retirement. Her book, Too Much Togetherness: Surviving Retirement as a Couple, deals with a controversial topic for the later years. Following are loosely transcripted highlights of the show. Enjoy!

How can couples in retirement keep separate yet together lives? 

Couples think mainly about preparing money for retirement, but not the psychological aspects. So many couples don’t talk about their expectations for retirement with each other, but go in thinking they know what each other wants. They need to sit down and talk. How are they going to spend the rest of their lives together? Sit down and have a conversation with your spouse and admit your vulnerability. Talk things out and make sure you are both on the same page.

What are the signs to watch for if your spouse seems depressed after retirement?

Wives need to reassure their husbands that they still love them. They’re still important even though they’re retired. Most men identify so strongly with their job and feel lost without work. Women have post-menopausal zest, according to Margaret Mead. They are ramping up with energy as men are ramping down.

Remember that nothing is permanent. Make some goals for your retirement, but you can always change them. Have a finite time off. Many who retire think they have to avoid other people. Maybe your spouse is at home, happy to watch TV, not get dressed, and doesn’t shave. This makes you isolated from society. You become boring. Have people over if your husband doesn’t want to go out. Some people rent an office to have time away from their spouse.

If you have different levels of energy, accept it and do things differently. You don’t necessarily have to travel together. Wives assume that their husbands don’t want to take separate vacations. Don’t assume. Talk about the issues. Be honest with each other about what you want and want he wants. Make sure you have ‘me’ time. Don’t over-schedule, but do take out a calendar and write things down.

Three keys to surviving retirement:

a) Don’t assume. Discuss and understand expectations for each other.

b) Stay young: Act and dress young and maintain confidence in yourselves.

c) Be flexible. Plans can always change, so make a plan but be open to ditching it if it doesn’t work.

To listen to the show, please click here.

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