Baby Boomers are a cultural term used to describe anyone born between the years 1946 and 1964. Anyone born during the span of those 18 years would be between 50 and 68 years old today placing the at or within the years of retirement.
Retirement use to be a term to look forward to as it signifies the end of your work career and beginning of your leisure career. However, when married boomers are several years apart in age they are not retiring together and this presents several challenges. The current financial challenges aside for most Americans the challenges are unique and personal for each couple.
Couples who are several years apart in age may suddenly be faced with a change in roles. Perhaps the husband retires first and the wife continues to work she is now essentially the sole bread-winner going to work every day while the man is at home completing household chores. The daily routine of 35 years (assuming retired at 65) is suddenly changed and baby boomers are forced to reinvent themselves.
Most couples think of retiring simultaneously and will enjoy a life of leisure and travel, however when retirement dates are years apart couples must make unexpected adjustments in their plans. Experts in financial consulting and marriage and family therapy suggest couples have lengthy discussions around the topic even if it means having very different views, discussion is healthy and important.
Baby boomers are retiring at different times for several reasons some are forced to due to company downsizing, health reasons, or at the age of retiring. Likewise others are working longer because of financial hardships forcing them to stay on, personal fulfillment of what they do, or simply not at the age of retirement. In either case not retiring together can cause some unexpected challenges in the relationship.
Some couples are presented with discussions about budgets in areas they never had to discuss before such as; dining out, shopping, and other non-necessary items. There is also a sense of guilt on the side of the retiree who just spent their day on the golf course while the other spouse was at work. Resentment can also set in with the employed spouse resenting the fact that they have to get up every day and go off to work while their spouse gets to sleep in and go for leisurely walks around town. How then does one combat the possibility of retiring alone, without their spouse?
Communication has always been a key component in successful relationships however it is especially the case when it comes to shared finances and retirement. According to experts, couples should create a pre retirement plan outlining such things as necessary expenses, expenses that are more fluid, timeline when income stops; such as salary, and when other income starts; such as investment pay outs, social security and pension.
Couples are still retiring to Florida however one spouse may be putting a couple of rounds on the golf course while the other spouse is fighting rush hour traffic. Baby boomers are not retiring together for a lot of reasons and are struggling to cope with the changes.
Opinion By Debra Pittman
The New York Times