There is more to retirement planning than the financial issues. As a psychologist, I see people with avoidable emotional issues. If you incorporate mental health and life legacy goals into your planning as you approach retirement, you can create a happier retirement and a more peaceful marriage.
Sam retires and is finally “free to not have to get up and go to work every day…”
He has looked forward to this day, because he can spend the time with his wife Sally that he couldn’t when he was too busy working. He often felt guilty about being away so much, but now he can make up for it.
Sam didn’t have any personal male friends beside his coworkers. He feels lonely. Thank God his wife is his best friend, and he can hang out with her.
For years Sam has had a dream of having a sailboat and going on long voyages with his wife. Now, since he got his retirement package, he has the time and the means. He will take Sally to boat shows to help choose their boat. Retirement is good!
Sally had retired ten years earlier after a health scare. She now pursues her art. Sally had made some close friends during her recovery.
Most of her friends have taken up art in their retirement. They get together almost every week for lively discussions of their projects and their lives.
Sally also enjoys seeing her children and grandchildren every couple of weeks. Retirement is good!
Sam and Sally
A few months pass. Sam is feeling his dream slipping away. Immersed with Sam in the world of boats, Sally realizes that boats and long voyages are not her thing. Her art, her friends and her grandchildren are what give her fulfillment…and she says so.
Sam becomes increasingly jealous of her friends and family. He won’t leave her alone in her studio with her creative work. He resents her “ruining his retirement plans.” He feels abandoned and becomes very clingy.
Sally just has to get out of the house. She admits to her friends that she wishes Sam had continued to work, so she could have some space. It saddens her to see him so unhappy.
Retirement as a Creative Process
Your “work” as you face retirement is to recreate your lives for whatever time you have left. Retirement planning is a family affair. It requires anticipating issues and discussing them openly. It helps to start and test retirement activities long before retirement. It helps to establish non-work friendships while still working, or at least, plan how you will do it. Retirement represents major change, so you need to plan for the personal boundary issues that will arise.
Use your coaches and mentors wisely, both for you and for your marriage.