How a marriage needs to adapt when a spouse retires

Font Size:

Retirement isn’t always endless holidays, games of golf and catching up with friends over glasses of wine. For many people, it can be a time of great change, even upheaval, and can signal a move from one phase of a relationship to another.

And in situations where one partner continues to work when the other isn’t, or one partner has long been retired and the other suddenly joins them, retirement can be downright challenging.

These are some of the pitfalls to watch for and how to manage them.

Changing pace
Psychologist and Relationships Australia counsellor Jeannette Stott says that when one partner has retired and the other continues working, it’s usually the one at home who finds it hard to adjust to ‘empty nest’ syndrome.

“What do I do when I’m home for 10 hours of the day, and my husband, or wife, is out 10 hours of the day and then he or she comes back maybe tired, worn out?” she asks.

Ms Stott suggests that couples need to negotiate how best to energise the partner who has retired, and to organise evenings and weekends so they can spend time together as a couple. “First and foremost, it’s always just talking to each other, allowing each other to listen and influence negotiations; sometimes it could be a week-by-week schedule.”

Partners need to have shared interests but it’s essential they also have activities they do separately.

Getting a game plan
Retirement can be a time when people start to question their purpose, or feel lost and aimless, or wonder how their new status fits with their relationship. When one partner continues to work and the other has retired, self-esteem issues are common.

The retired partner might feel they have less to contribute to conversations or are no longer useful. Or, if one person has long been retired and their partner suddenly joins them at home, one or both people might feel that the other is under their feet.

“If you’re used to being out and about for six or seven hours and now you’re home together, it may be a good opportunity to have different conversations,” says Ms Stott.

She suggests that couples unite in new activities: for example, they could do puzzles or play board games together, or find a Netflix series they both enjoy, then engage in discussion about it.

Juggling different dreams
Another issue for couples, says Ms Stott, is not sharing the same dreams and thoughts about how they want to live their lives.

“Somebody might have gone out and bought a caravan without discussing it with [their partner] and said, ‘We’re going to be grey nomads and go around Australia’, while [they’re] thinking, ‘I want to go to Europe; I don’t want to drive around Australia’.”

Big challenges arise in a relationship when partners aren’t able to compromise and support each other’s dreams. Ms Stott suggests a couple could compromise by going on the grey nomad trail for three months and then taking a trip to Europe. “It’s about how they problem solve together and support each other.”

Coping with health issues
Health conditions can put great strain on an otherwise strong marriage. “When there’s a range of chronic health complications, a lot of time can be taken up with medical appointments and being very careful about medication,” says Ms Stott.

She recently counselled a couple where the wife was struggling to get any sleep because her husband had recently had two hip replacements and she was constantly alert should he need assistance to get to the bathroom during the night.

“In that situation, we’re talking about a range of solutions that will help reduce the day-to-day stress as well as give each other respite,” she says.

“It’s so important [for couples] to accept the reality of ageing, and to deal with the expectations and assumptions about what they can do to make the relationship work.”

Health insurance can help
Health insurance that suits your lifestyle can help ease the pressure on a partner. For example, if you take out Apia Premium Extras Cover, we can help cover the cost of health aids such as walking frames and home nursing services.

Explore Apia Health Insurance

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Disclaimer: Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency Pty Ltd (Apia) ABN 14 099 650 996 AR 239591 is an authorised representative of AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI), the issuer of Home, Landlord, Car, Caravan, Motorhome, Boat, Travel & Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury (CTP) Insurance.

Health insurance is issued by nib health funds limited ABN 83 000 124 381(nib) a registered private health insurer and is arranged by Apia as an authorised agent of nib for which it receives a commission.

Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance.

The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

Join
By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

RELATED LINKS

Report tells why ageing populations are an asset

Experts say health means wealth for older people and global economies.

It’s never too late to rediscover past passions

Wanted to paint or learn another language, but never found the time? Now you have it!

How Australia fared in 2020 Global Retirement Index

Australia lifts ranking in index, but gender inequality a concern.

Written by Partner Content

0 Comments

Total Comments: 0

    FACEBOOK COMMENTS



    SPONSORED LINKS

    continue reading

    Health

    Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent - and how to use it

    Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent (and how to use it for the best protection) Shutterstock Cameron Webb,...

    Entertainment

    Sir Bob Geldof on grief, fame and getting through it all

    I've hardly started questioning Sir Bob Geldof before he is off on a long, sweary rant about everything he thinks...

    Australia

    Abandon Australia Day and choose the history we want to celebrate?

    Australia Day is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia. On 26 January 1788, 11 convict...

    Community

    Speaking up for the disappearing art of listening

    Columnist Peter Leith is 91 and describes himself as "half-deaf and half-blind". But he sees and hears a lot and...

    Beauty

    Hyperpigmentation: How to tackle those tricky dark patches on your ski

    There are plenty of great things about summer - sunshine, picnics and fruity cocktails immediately spring to mind - but...

    Australia

    Enthralling, dystopian, sublime: NGV Triennial has a huge 'wow' factor

    Refik Anadol: Quantum memories 2020 (render) custom software, quantum computing, generative algorithm with artificial intelligence (AI), real time digital animation...

    Australia

    Where to eat, drink and play on Kangaroo Island

    Australia's third largest island is an oasis of pristine wilderness, premium produce and hidden secrets ripe for discovery. Easily accessible...

    COVID-19

    Will you need a vaccination to visit Australian venues?

    State premiers have suggested that once vaccinations begin in Australia, those without vaccinations may be banned from visiting some venues...

    LOADING MORE ARTICLE...