As a married couple, your life is often marked by milestones. There’s the day you met and the day you married. You buy a house and perhaps welcome children. You celebrate anniversaries and birthdays and advances in your careers.


And then there’s the ultimate milestone – retirement. That’s the day you are both able to leave the working world behind and live life on your own terms. You can spend your time however you wish. You can travel, pursue new hobbies, spend time with family, and generally do whatever you wish. Life should be perfect, right.

Not necessarily.

Data from researchers at Bowling Green State University shows that divorce rates are at 40-year lows for every demographic except one – those over age 55. Divorce rates for those ages 55 to 64 tripled between 1990 and 2017. For those over age 65, the rate has more than tripled.1

Why are retirees and near retirees divorcing at record rates? There are plenty of theories with no concrete answers. However, one possible cause is that couples haven’t adequately planned for spending retirement together.

Retirement can be the happiest time of your life, but only if you prepare for it that way. Below are a few points for you and your spouse to discuss as you approach retirement. If you haven’t had these conversations, now may be the time to do so.

Talk about your goals.

You probably have your own vision for retirement. Maybe it includes playing golf or traveling the world. Or maybe you want to start a second career or even volunteer for a favorite cause.

But what happens if your spouse has different ideas about how to spend retirement? For example, you may want to travel but your spouse would rather spend time with the grandkids. Your spouse wants to buy a lake house, but you’d rather travel to various locations instead of just one. These disagreements can create serious conflict within a marriage.

Talk about these potential points of conflict now, before you reach retirement. Be creative to find a middle ground so you can both do what you want in retirement. Perhaps you spend time supporting each other’s goals. You may even decide to pursue some interests separately. A conversation today will help you avoid arguments in the future.

Plan your time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 8.8 hours per day at work. That’s 44 hours per week. That’s a lot of time that you’ll have to replace after you retire.2

When you first retire, you may find that amount of free time to be overwhelming. Some retirees find themselves lost without the purpose that comes from a busy career. If you replace all those hours with time home alone with your spouse, it could place stress on the relationship.

Instead, think ahead about how you will spend your time, both with your spouse and individually. Together time is important, but you both will also likely need independent activities and lives. Now is the time to explore various hobbies or other pursuits that could keep you busy in retirement.

Make a budget.

Money can be a major cause of conflict in marriages. Sometimes it’s because there simply is not enough money to pay the bills. In other cases, it’s because the two spouses have differing opinions on how the money should be used.

A budget can eliminate these conflicts, even in retirement. More than a third of Americans don’t use a budget.3 If you’re in that group, now may be the time to make a change. A budget puts your spending goals into writing. You can both agree on how your retirement assets will be spent. You can also make sure your spending is appropriate and your assets will last through retirement. A budget can help you avoid some nasty arguments and issues down the road.

Ready to plan the next phase for you and your spouse? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Jim Lee Financial. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-divorce-rate-is-at-a-40-year-low-unless-youre-55-or-older-11561116601

2https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/03/how-the-8-hour-workday-changed-how-americans-work.html

3https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fewer-americans-are-budgeting-in-2019—-although-they-think-everyone-else-should-300824384.html

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19561 – 2019/12/16