Patricia Lovett-Reid

So have you had "The Talk"? ... no, I don't mean talking to your children about the birds and the bees, I mean talking to your spouse or partner about your retirement.

You may want to travel the world, while she may want to stay close to the grandkids. You may want to spend your days golfing, while your partner may want to be an active volunteer. As we head closer to retirement, we start envisioning how we would like to spend our golden years. But are you and your partner on the same page?

In order to plan for a financially and emotionally happy retirement together, it is important to talk to your significant other and ensure that you share a similar vision of your future.

* Video: Why status quo retirement plans don't work

In our household we are having "The Talk" and it isn't as easy as I initially thought it would be. It isn't that we don't want to retire one day, we definitely do. The question is when, where and what will we be doing once we get there. It isn't a one-time discussion.

The Boomer generation is reinventing the concept of retirement. They are not seeking to retire from something, but rather to something where they can create a new life for themselves. Today's retirees are living longer, healthier and more active lifestyles than ever before. However, some couples complain of conflict in their relationships because they have different retirement dreams.

So, how do we walk the PATH to a happy retirement together?

  • Picture yourselves in retirement
  • Arm yourselves with knowledge, including the do's and don'ts of retirement planning
  • Transition into retirement with style
  • Harmony. Put it all together and leave a legacy.

Good relationships and sound financial planning are based on the same principles: open lines of communication with your partner or financial advisor and understanding the individual or financial strategy. Couples who get their retirement dynamic right find that they are closer than ever before, as they get to spend more time together.

Relationship therapist, Joe Rich, MSW, RSW says that retirement creates a whole new dynamic for couples who have spent years together in the same comfortable routine of going to work and raising kids. There is an adjustment period that most couples experience when they change that routine. Getting ready emotionally to deal with that new reality can be tougher than people think, but talking to each other about your retirement expectations — and fears — can help you to work through any issues, together.

* Visit our RRSP Guide for all your RRSP needs

Just as no two couples are alike, there is no single universal PATH for us. Create a custom retirement plan that works for both of you. This will include thinking about your lifestyle goals and how your finances can help you to reach them. It is about putting money aside in an RRSP each year and developing a diversified investment strategy. A retirement plan is achieved by carefully balancing lifestyle goals with financial obligations and opportunities.

I encourage Canadians to consider where they are now, what you and your partner want to do when you retire, and how you can get from here to there. If you are unsure where to start, your financial institution might be able to help. Couples who discuss their dreams openly and work with a financial advisor they trust can create a roadmap for success.