Beware! Early Retirement Can Look Like the Pandemic

Do you have to do that here?!

I don’t want pizza AGAIN!!

Don’t leave your dirty dishes there!

These may be a few phrases you have heard in your home during the pandemic.

The Shelter in place orders, the multitude of restrictions, is a dry run on being retired. You may be experiencing less income and spending more time with your spouse.  Common features in retirement.

The virus has slowed our communities down. There is less noise and activities in our lives. There are few diversions as theaters are closed, concerts cancelled, travel restricted, and parks and trails over full. This slow down can expose what is there in our relationships; our differences can seem more glaring in this environment.

Surprisingly, this confinement and slow down is not unlike the early days of retirement. If you have focused only on retiring from your job – you might be surprised at the adjustments you may need to make.

When the busyness and distractions of work are gone, what are you left with? For many, you still have a partner or spouse. Are you prepared to spend endless hours together?

Statistics show many are not prepared for the change. There is a spike in divorces 2-3 years into retirement. Since the 1990’s divorces among couples over 65 have tripled. These divorces are often in first marriages of over 20 years. This “trend” has been titled the gray divorce or the silver splitters.

Before you retire, you may want to explore where you are similar and where you are different. You may be surprised at the number of overlaps you have in your core values. In this past year I have been exploring with clients their top five core values. In couples, I see two to three words that they have chosen independently are the same or very similar.

Relationship Tips

While you are limited in choices during this Coronavirus season, make the best of the situation. Here are a few tips:

  • What did you like about your partner or spouse? What first attracted you to them – sense of humor, integrity, or kindness. Remember the good things.
  • Focus on what you like about your partner or spouse. You will see what you focus on.
  • Yes, we are currently living with restrictions; we are limited in our activities and associations. However, be careful of placing expectations on your spouse to make you happy. Happiness is an inside job – a job that may be harder in this environment.
  • In this season, there may be more need to overlook offenses. Proverbs refers to that as building patience and character; it makes you a better person. (There are days I would like to have less character development.)
  • Be aware of mental health issues. The isolation of the Coronavirus has led to depression and anxiety for many. For some their job is their identity and retirement can bring an unexpected identity crisis. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Professional counselors can help. Telehealth has increased in use during this pandemic.   Try talking with successfully retired people and ask for their insight in making the transition to the retirement world.

Successful Retirement

Some of the problems with retirement can be avoided. Do some planning – what do you want to do in retirement? Travel, care for grandchildren, volunteer, hobbies? What does retirement look like for you? Your spouse?

Find the commonalities and build the retirement you both will enjoy.

Do not be discouraged if you have experienced a bumpy relationship with this season. We all handle crisis differently; it takes time to adjust. A boating friend told me that many couples can’t spend prolonged hours on a boat together. That doesn’t mean you have a failed marriage. You have a different relationship.    

Before you call the divorce attorney, review your finances. Will the income be sufficient divided between two households? Will you outlive your assets? In retirement, you are unlikely to recoup losses from a divorce.

Before you call the divorce attorney, call a counselor. You may need help building common bridges to a happy retirement.

Our office is here to help your retirement to be your best adventure yet!


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