Posted on Friday, 2nd April 2021 by

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I’ve been writing my retirement planning column for close to two decades and during this time received numerous candid queries from friends and subscribers concerning their retirement fears. These concerns often cause federal employees to delay their departure until they resolve the conflict or simply throw the dice and leave.


The concerns range from financial, are they able to live comfortably once retired, to can I live with my spouse or partner 24/7 without going crazy. I’ve addressed the financial aspect of this dilemma many times in articles including, Looking at the Numbers – The Second Time Around and Retirement Essentials – Do You Have What it Takes!

It’s the latter of the two that I’ve not touched much on for all these years. Can you and your spouse/partner survive being joined at the hip during your retirement years?

Retirement doesn’t negate the fact that each of you still will have individual interests, friends, and other outlets.

Several of my newsletter subscribers relayed their sentiment on this subject recently. One commenting that having their spouse around 24/7 in retirement would be a big change. Another quipped, “I’m not sure what my wife has instore for me when I retire! I may have to get a part time job to remain sane.”

I can relate my firsthand experience with this conundrum. I believe my wife Mary and I were well suited for this transition since we’ve been together for 55 years, 37 years when I retired in 2004. I retired with 36 years of federal service, including military time, at age 55. That was almost 17 years ago.

My wife understood that I had a business to run when I left the FAA and would be working from home. My wife was als0 the office manager for the company; we worked together in the business at the time. It was still a significant change and it took a year or more to adjust to staying at home most days. My business’ warehouse allowed me to get out and about along with visits to other local business affiliated establishments.

Even though my wife knew that I would still be working, Mary frequently lamented, “I thought you were retired now!” I went from working 40 hours a week with the FAA plus 30 to 40 hours weekly in my business to just 40 hours a week after retiring. It felt like I was on vacation most days; being able to do what I and my wife desired with few distractions. I could delay projects, reschedule things, and catch up in the evenings or on weekends.

A successful retirement requires compromise and consideration. Divergent interests can create conflicts that must be resolved long before retiring. The report that I published titled “How to be Physically and Emotionally Prepared When You Retirementions that it’s important to discuss what each partner’s retirement expectations are before leaving. If one partner wants to sell the family home and travel the world while the other is a homebody, retirement could become a nightmare for both.

One of the compromises I made was a conscious effort to learn how to cook. Mary was the family’s primary cook, a task she disliked after many years in the kitchen. We now share that chore. Actually, we cook together, I often do the main dish and Mary does the side dishes and salad when I cook. When Mary cooks, I help where needed and do the dishes and vise versa.

Mary and I have set routines, she keeps active and walks 10,000 plus steps per day, enjoys taking care of our homes, uses her iPad to stay informed and connected, follows the children and family on Facebook, and loves to shop for the grandchildren. We both enjoy traveling and visit our children and grandchildren weekly or they stop over. I work in the office on a reduced schedule these days, recently completing my 28th book, a memoir of my early years, manage investments, pay bills, and enjoy several hobbies. After dinner we either read, watch the news or stream a Netflix or HBO Max TV series. During the week we often go shopping or just spend some time out and about. More so before the pandemic hit.

Do we occasionally get on each other’s nerves? Yes, a natural aside to life in general. Yet, these natural occurrences are few and far between these days.

The key to a successful retirement with your spouse or partner is to discuss what each other’s expectations are long before you turn in your retirement paperwork. Resolve any major disconnects and misconceptions in advance if possible.  Here are several good articles that you may find informative on this subject:

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp


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