A big problem that couples can face later on in life is having different attitudes towards aging and retirement. One might focus on all of the positives that come with these changes, while the other may focus on the negatives.
Let’s face it, aging is inevitable, but there are so many different ways that you can spend your time as you age. As a couple, there might be some issues that arise when it comes to differing opinions on what to do. We have put together a guide on some of the bigger issues that might arise, as well as some tips and insight to help overcome or compromise during retirement and aging life.
You probably spent your life dreaming of what you would do when it comes time to retire. However, now that the time is near, perhaps your vision has changed. You might imagine spending summers fly-fishing in Alaska and winters on a tropical beach watching the waves. Yet, your spouse envisions summers playing with your grandchildren in your backyard and winters volunteering with local charities.
Many couples do not always have the same vision when it comes to retirement. If you find that you have different ideas it will likely require a little negotiating to find a common ground.
Putting everything on the table and discussing what is important to you, what your finances will allow, and how you will allocate your time can help make differing attitudes easier. In the end you might need to give each other something and tag along or go on your own adventure for the activities you do not wish to participate in.
Not Wanting to Retire
For some couples, one may wish to retire and spend their time relaxing, while the other will want to continue working. In today’s society many choose to keep working long past the age of retirement. This might be due to finances, the want to stay busy, or truly enjoying what they do.
If your spouse does not want to stop working while you do, it is important to have a discussion about how this will work out in the long run. You might have to compromise and take a vacation when your spouse can get time off of work for a week or two, instead of a month long adventure. You might also want to find other activities near your home to occupy your time, while they are at work.
Attitude on Aging
Not everyone is thrilled to see their age go up in numbers. It can be hard if you notice that your spouse has negative thoughts and emotions about aging, when you may be excited to enjoy some well deserved relaxation.
Try and focus on the positive, as research shows that older adults with negative attitudes towards aging walk at a slower speed and have lower cognitive abilities than those with positive attitudes towards aging. A negative attitude seems to also affect other health conditions and mood towards other things in life.
So look at the positives when it comes to growing old, such as more time to spend with your family, getting to travel to places you have always wanted to visit, or picking up new hobbies.
Helpful Tips to Approach Compromising
Here are some suggestions that couples who have differing attitudes towards aging and retirement can use to help:
- Create a list of characteristics for retirement that you each desire. You should separate your list into categories such as sporting/cultural events, exercise activities, volunteer work, travel, physical living arrangements, and your desired proximity to your loved ones. This will help provide a roadmap to guide your discussion. You can work to evaluate what you really want to do.
- Reach out to friends and family. If you find that you are struggling to come to agreements than reach out to friends and family who can help. Sometimes hearing a third party’s opinion can help to open up new things we didn’t notice before.
- Make time for each other. Find the time to talk. Communication is key. Perhaps even take turns doing something that the other person enjoys. You may not share an interest in the activity, but it shows your spouse that you want them to enjoy it.
- It is all about the “give and take.” Compromise is so important when you find that your views differ. The choices you make now may be life altering, so it is important to find a middle ground that will make you both happy.
- Notice and appreciate the small things. It can get easy to lose yourself in this busy society, make sure to find the time to tell your spouse how much you appreciate them and what they offer you, even as you age. Growing old together is a privilege that not everyone gets, don’t take advantage of the things you do for one another. Even if you are not excited about getting older, try to focus on getting to spend this time making memories with your significant other.