It can be difficult to retire at the same time as your spouse. After a lifetime of separate careers, spending every day at home can seem like too much closeness. But couples who retire together are generally happier than those who retire years apart. A new AARP survey of 1,064 married adults age 55 to 75 who are retired or living with a retired spouse highlights a few of the reasons why.
Companionship. Couples who retire at the same time report spending more time together, feeling happier, and are less stressed than couples where only one person is retired. Having a partner to spend time with can make the transition to retirement easier for many people. Some 38 percent of couples say retirement has made the relationship stronger, while only 2 percent claim retirement has weakened the marriage, AARP found. Irritation and tension between spouses was more likely to be a problem for the working member of the couple with a retired spouse, according to the survey. One of the biggest sources of conflict is housework.
Sharing chores. When both partners are working or retired it makes sense to divide the household chores equitably. But when only one spouse is retired, who should do the laundry and load the dishwasher? Among those who are working and have a retired spouse, only half say their spouse has taken on a lot more of the housework now that they are retired. There is also a gender difference, AARP found. Although 80 percent of retired men say they have increased their share of the housework since retiring, only 47 percent of working women agree that their spouse has picked up some extra chores.
Less regrets. When asked if they wish they had worked longer, individuals with a working spouse report greater regret than those whose spouse is also retired. One third of retired respondents encouraged their working spouse to retire after they did and were persistent in their reminders, AARP found. And men were actually more likely to do the nagging. Some 39 percent of men actively encouraged their working wives to retire versus 21 percent of retired women with an employed spouse.