Being Your Own Person in Retirement

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant and Christie Spence, Financial Planner.

Is it possible to spend too much time together in retirement and can this have a negative impact on our wellbeing? This is a topic that came up in a recent discussion with a good friend and Financial Planner, Christie Spence, and rather than let the discussion slide, I switched into interview mode to understand her perspective having worked with clients preparing for retirement for over 15 years.  In this article we explore a challenge that many couples experience when embarking on retirement – working out how to be together in life after work, and Christie shares her suggestions for navigating this transition successfully.

By the time that you retire, your children have typically left the family home and it’s back to just the two of you in the home. This can be fabulous when you’re working – coming home to a quiet house, one that’s just the way you left it, but what happens when you retire? Not only is it just the two of you, but you suddenly have an extra 10-12 hours together each day. If not managed well, this can prove a challenge as it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of overwhelm, as though you are living out of each other’s pockets.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to remain this way and below I share the discussion that Christie and I had. What I found interesting is that Christie’s observations are consistent with research findings and so I encourage you to read on for some practical advice.


What is a struggle that you see in couples as it relates to the non-financial aspects of retirement?

This doesn’t apply to all couples I work with, but I have had instances where I’ve met with clients who seem to get ‘lost’ in retirement initially. They don’t have clear goals about how they would like to spend their days and so time simply passes them by. Alternatively one partner’s plans take priority over the other’s and as a result, one or both seem to lose their sense of self and purpose.

What do you notice in a woman who is content and fulfilled in retirement?

From both my study and experience in financial planning, they are the women who maintain their sense of independence and pursue their own interests in life after work. They recognise that being with their husband or partner 24/7 is not feasible for a healthy relationship or for their own well-being. This means that they regularly invest in ‘me time’ to do the things that they like doing and which help to give them a sense of direction in retirement.

I appreciate that you are a Financial Planner, but what key piece of advice would you offer to women as they navigate the changing dynamics in a relationship that come with retirement?

Have the confidence to be your own person! Find the balance between doing things with your partner or husband and making time for the things that you are passionate about. Recognise that your interests are just as important as those of the people around you and that having regular ‘me time’ helps to keep you energised and able to give your best to others.

Being a Financial Planner, my other key piece of advice is don’t be scared to seek professional advice. The earlier that you can start planning for retirement, the better, but don’t ever think that it’s too late - even small amounts invested the right way can make a big difference. It’s about knowing where to direct your money.

The wonderful thing about finding a trusted Financial Planner is that they can not only can they help you to make informed financial decisions and build your financial confidence, but help you to anticipate and navigate the challenges you may experience in entering retirement. If you haven’t met with a Financial Planner recently, make an appointment today!

What happens when retirement bliss is not what pans out and you and your husband/partner struggle to connect and communicate effectively with so much more time on your hands? The feeling of living out of each other’s pockets becomes overwhelming and you’d rather be back at work than spending time with your significant other?

If this sounds familiar and you would like to explore your particular circumstances with someone who can provide an objective perspective in preparing for the non-financial aspects of retirement via structured, action-focused planning, you may like to consider booking a one-on-one planning session, via my website.

If you enjoyed this article you may also be interested in the following blogs; 4 Myths About Financial Planners Busted! and I'm Terrified of Retirement!

Would you like to receive regular (but not too frequent) updates, articles and ideas direct to your inbox? Why not sign up for my fortnightly newletter!

* indicates required