Retirement not always as easy as it seems
Retirement is not just a big financial adjustment, but a whole new phase of life that involves significant psychological, emotional and social changes. That’s the main message of Rob Pascale’s recent book, The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire.
In it, Pascale looks far beyond savings and pensions, grappling instead with issues such as the loss of identity, corroded personal relationships, and feelings of disconnectedness that often accompany life after work.
Traditionally, aside from money, men's concerns about retirement have tended to focus around diminished status, increasing social isolation, lack of overall purpose, and declining physical abilities.
Women's fears in retirement have typically focused on the disruption of their established patterns, increased responsibilities for their partners’ social life — and eventually their health — as well as the fact that they will likely outlive them.
Pacale’s research suggests that when you retire you lose about half your friends and spend half as much time in the company of others. But being socially connected is extremely important to one's psychological well-being, he maintains.
In retirement, that means scheduling regular play dates with friends, joining clubs or organizations, and initiating the sorts of activities where you see people — other than your partner, that is.
Retirement often means spouses are thrown together 24 hours a day. Other times, one retires while the other keeps working. Either way, your retirement will change the dynamics of your relationship.
That’s what happened to one fellow I know. Stuck in a job he’d come to loathe, he couldn’t wait to retire.
But he and his wife had never really considered how the rhythm of their life would change, or how their relationship would be affected, particularly without their children acting as a buffer.
Less than two years later, they were divorced.
The initial years of retirement are just like tying the knot all over again. That means renegotiating roles, compromising without resentment and sharing both dreams and apprehensions.
Talk to your spouse about what he or she envisions for your new life. Decide together how to divide household chores and what roles each of you will take.
Discuss your activities and interests, and don’t expect to do everything together. You’ll each need time on your own.
More importantly though, decide what’s really important to you individually, and as a couple — which is going to take a little work.
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