|By Jennifer Davoren, Where to Retire magazine,|
Couples relocating to
IN THE MOOD TO MOVE
Relocation can be a contentious issue when it comes to making joint retirement plans. According to a 2011 survey of retiring couples commissioned by Fidelity Investments, 33% of participating pairs either didn't agree or just didn't know where they would retire. And it's not just the "where" throwing a wrench in the planning process. According to the study, 62% of couples approaching retirement couldn't agree on the "when" to retire.
Difficulty in making these big decisions as a couple isn't unusual among Baby Boomers, notes
And that, Mintzer says, is when unexpected hurdles arise in the retirement planning process. "Some people can be on the same wavelength, but even when couples have been together for a while, there are certain assumptions," she says. "You can assume you know what the other wants, but when you're up against the clock and you're really thinking about retirement, letting go and making changes is hard."
"If you don't negotiate some of these changes together, I think you're in for some bumpy times ahead," Frank says. "Initiating the conversation and seeing how close you are or how far apart you are is really important."
While some topics can be cut-and-dried for couples, others — including the idea of picking up and moving in pursuit of the retirement dream — might have higher emotional stakes. Non-confrontational conversation techniques are helpful for future retirees who have hit a stumbling block in the planning process. "These conversations actually can bring more intimacy to a relationship," Mintzer says. "The more you understand what's important to the other — even if you agree to disagree — the more you understand it, and the more connection there can be between the two people."
While financial and other long-term matters are an obvious talking point for couples facing the retirement transition, the day-to-day impact often is overlooked. "Without negotiating some of those small, practical things, people can get on one another's nerves," Frank says. "When we're taken up with all of the responsibilities that come for most of us in midlife, what we don't do is stop and say, 'What is our marriage going to look like? What's it going to be like when we have this major change in our lives, and we have new opportunities, but also new challenges?'"
One couple's story
As they began retirement planning, "Iris and I had to figure out what was most important to us individually. We couldn't always guess what the other was thinking because we didn't necessarily know our-selves."
Even though the couple had plenty of the same ideas, they didn't actually enunciate them, Lipner says. "We didn't actually talk them through in detail. And the issues were in the details, not in the plan."
Seeking help through a group seminar, with several couples coming together to share their concerns for retirement, or even private counseling with a therapist or life coach stepping in to mediate a more personal discussion are popular options among partners who have hit a wall in the planning process.
"Talking things through, we sometimes find that, together, we come up with a third alternative that's better than what either of us was thinking," Platt says.
Sometimes people get stuck in their positions: "'It's my way or your way,' win vs. lose," Mintzer says. "What I have found really helpful in my work with people is helping them identify that, and opening up the space for the 'we' of the relationship, so people can really think about what would be a win-win."
Where to Retiremagazine (www.wheretoretiremagazine.com) is a USA TODAY content partner offering features and information on the best places to retire. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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