February 13, 2020

Edited 06/05/20

Should You Retire at the Same Time as Your Spouse?

One of the best parts of being retired is finally being able to spend more quality time with your spouse. You can take your time eating breakfast and lunch together, reading, going on walks, visiting children and grandchildren, so on and so forth. But when this time comes, it can sometimes be a point of contention. Should you and your spouse retire together, or would it be more beneficial if one of you retired first? According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, about half of older couples retire at the same time. To help you answer this question, we have laid out some of the pros and cons of retiring with your spouse together or separately. 

Retiring at the Same Time: Pros vs Cons

If you and your partner are about the same age, have the same level of health and longevity, and have the same idea of what an ideal retirement looks like, retiring together could be great!

Pro: Two Are Better Than One

As a couple, you and your spouse have experienced life’s greatest milestones together: getting married, maybe having kids, starting a career, moving houses or apartments, etc. Retirement is no different. There are many exciting milestones still to come in these years! However, retirement can come with a lot of challenges: the feeling of a loss of purpose, loneliness, and having to make difficult new financial decisions, unlike ones you’ve encountered before. Therefore, having someone by your side to help you navigate these transitions can make retirement for both parties easier and more enjoyable.

Pro: The World is Your Oyster

Finally, having free time with your spouse in retirement can result in some of the most special and exciting memories in your life. You will both be able to do what you pictured in retirement such as going on a cruise, visiting loved ones, playing golf, or revisiting the place you went on your honeymoon. Savor every moment – the possibilities are endless.

Con: Brace for Impact

However, retiring together can also sometimes make retirement more challenging. You will enter this new life of not working, or working part-time, and you and your spouse will need to adapt to a new routine. But as long as you and your spouse are on the same page about retirement, having someone to navigate retirement with can be a huge bonus. To make retirement even more enjoyable and exciting, we recommend throwing a retirement party or creating a bucket list of things you want to do or goals you want to achieve with your spouse.

Con: Challenges From Time Spent Together

Now that you’re both retired, you are able to spend more time with one another. While this might sound romantic, it may actually bring new challenges—spending more time with each other than what you’re probably used to. A great way to avoid being overwhelmed by one another is for you and your partner to find your own paths in retirement. Make sure you and your spouse find individual hobbies, interests, and friends. That way, you’ll be able to maintain a happy and healthy marriage while pursuing interests and hobbies individually. 

Retiring at Different Times: Pros vs. Cons

In contrast, if you and your partner are not close in age, not in the same health condition, and don’t have the same idea of what you want your retirement to look like, you could consider retiring at separate times. This could also be favorable if one needs to take care of a sick family member, or if one simply no longer wishes to work.

Pro: Maintaining Financial and Medical Benefits 

Retiring at different times provides potential financial and medical benefits of having one partner remain in the workforce. Some of these immense financial benefits include: delaying Social Security benefits to increase the amount of the eventual benefit for both and allowing couples to continue to save for retirement to make their nest egg last longer. Additionally, you can save on healthcare and medical costs by being covered under one partner’s employer-sponsored healthcare benefits during retirement.  

Pro: Transitioning Into Retirement

Having one partner retire while the other one remains in the workforce can be helpful because it allows you and your spouse to ease into retirement. One would already have a retirement routine that they can teach their spouse. They can also help their spouse adjust to life outside the workforce by introducing them to their favorite activities to do during the day. This can help avoid any feelings of loneliness one may feel when they retire. As a result, you and your spouse are able to transition into being a retired couple.

Con: It Can Be Lonely

But, having one partner work while the other one retires could be challenging because of the different routines. For the spouse who is retiring early, make sure to plan ways they can fill their time by visiting friends and family, volunteering, or traveling.

Con: Changing Routines

When one spouse retires first while the other works, roles in the relationship may change. Suddenly, the partner who retired first no longer has a schedule or routine to follow, which can come as a shock especially without having support or someone else to go through this big life change with. So before one retires, plan a routine like when to wake up or when to go to the gym to help ease into retirement. 

There are plenty of pros and cons to retiring at the same time as your spouse and choosing not to do so. This choice is personal and it should be based on your specific situation. Make sure you both are communicating with one another about what you want from your retirement years. Together, you both will come to a decision on how you both would like to retire.