Retirement Redesigned

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Monday, July 15, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeProductivityRelationshipsThe Essential Retirement Investment: Relationships

The Essential Retirement Investment: Relationships

Retirement can be a perilous time for relationships

A note from Johann

So many of the structures and building blocks of daily life change in retirement. Those transitioning to this new life phase can find that their lives change in measurable ways that they don’t plan for. One of the retirement tropes we still encounter far too often is that couples suddenly couped up together after spending a vast majority of their working lives apart. The frustrations that come with loss of identity and adjusting to change often find their outlet directed at a partner rather than that actual cause of discomfort.

So-called gray divorce is on the rise. Older couples are divorcing with greater frequency. It used to be one in ten, but now it is one in four couples. We know relationships come under strain during major life transitions and retirement is no exception, so it behooves us to shore up our relationship investment for retirement as much as any other if we expect to live out our retirement in comfortable companionship.

Our recent webinar guest, Estelle Evans, a well-regarded therapist who specialises in couples counselling, advises retirees to take the matter of sustaining their relationships into retirement seriously. She encourages married couples to find a new vision for their marriage. Whether through a new shared interest, working together to scale down a home, or planning a project together. These and many other options can create a whole new focus.

The critical component in surviving and even thriving in retirement is to take a sensitive account of emotions and to manage the emotional needs of both partners carefully. Avoiding the now well known drift into depression and the increased isolation and loneliness of retirement means that the partners have to make sure they manage their own emotions and don’t rely on the other one to ‘fix’ matters for them. Outside help and the potential involvement of a therapist may offer some insight and relief, too. Addressing your emotional needs means taking stock for yourself of how to come to terms with the issues that create any problems that you may have – this can give the best chance of finding some kind of clarity and peace.

We’re looking at relationships and the key risks they face as we transition to retirement. Relationships are central to our life experience and the disruption of our familiar routines and patterns can present challenges to our relationships and support structures. We drastically change the ratio of time spent with our partners and this can put strain on even the strongest of bonds. So how do we prepare for this? And what can we do to avoid some inevitable pitfalls? Investing in our relationships can be about developing greater emotional intelligence, becoming a better listener, and also developing your relationship with yourself.

Our top 3 article picks this week:

Happy Together: Six Tips for Marriage After Retirement

an elderly couple on a sailboat symbolising the value gained from the tips in the article

Our take:
Though retirement can be a rewarding time it can also present us with some challenges and these are very often felt most keenly in our relationships. There are easily implementable things that we can do to help us manage the hurdles we face. Some ideas are discussed and explained in this helpful article which focuses specifically on retirement.

Article excerpt:
Retirement means many more hours at home with your spouse. This may have sounded great at first, but as the days and weeks march forward it ceases to be all sunshine and rainbows.The truth is that retirement can put quite a strain on a marriage, even a relatively healthy one. For many years you had found an equilibrium, and now suddenly everything is different.

  1. Be patient with each other.
    Many positive events can bring a lot of stress and strain our coping skills. Even though such events are blessings, they still bring their share of stressors.
  2. Notice changes in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
    These can be clues that one or both of you is straining to adjust to life after retirement, or the relationship changes that have come along with it.
  3. Don’t make any major decisions.
    Since retirement can be emotionally challenging, be sure to be cautious about making any major life decisions.
  4. Don’t expect your partner to entertain you.
    Your spouse has had their own daytime routines without you, perhaps for many years. Once you are retired and both together at home, be respectful of the habits that you have each developed.
  5. Rediscover yourself and your own interests.
    Many people are so busy when they are working that they have forgotten how they like to spend their free time.
  6. Be curious and supportive of each other.
    see if there are ways you can support and encourage each other to make your retirement years the best ones for both of you.
    Click here to read the full article on

4 Ways to Stay Connected During Life Transitions

Here’s how to stay connected when our minds are preoccupied with our own stresses.

Two hands holding pinky fingers to symbolise connection

Our take:
We already know that transitions can be stressful, but what can we do about staying connected with our partners when we are focused on our own stresses? This brief read offers 4 good practices to keep you both in good stead.

Article excerpt:
Life transitions are like tides that can overwhelm even the strongest of marriages. The death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a change in a job or financial situation, a move, an injury or illness — these are all external forces that test a relationship.

  1. Schedule couple time
    Scheduling couple time outside of your normal routine is an opportunity to connect with each other. If you’re not used to scheduling time together, consider trying it at least during the season of your transition.
  2. Take turns giving and receiving love
    Partners react to the stress of transition in different ways. Consider taking turns tending to each other and receiving love so that you both can fill your Emotional Bank Account.
  3. Create rituals
    Small efforts can yield significant rewards.
  4. Forgive quickly
    It’s important to acknowledge that a season of stress can put us on edge and make us act out of anger, frustration, or fatigue. A willingness to forgive quickly is a repair attempt that helps to avoid the petty conflicts that might further distance us from each other during stressful times.
    Click here to read the full article post on

Improving Family Relationships with Emotional Intelligence

Looking to improve your relationships with your family members? Learn how emotional intelligence (EQ) is your most effective tool for overcoming rifts and strengthening bonds.

A grandfather and his grandkids playing with their car toys

Our take:
There are great tools we can use to help us strengthen bonds and heal divisions that come into our family structures. This article gives some useful strategies for fostering better relationships using EQ.

Article excerpt:
Emotional intelligence in the family
There’s nothing like family. The people we’re related to by blood and marriage are expected to be our closest allies, our greatest sources of love and support. Too often, however, our interactions with family are filled with misunderstanding and resentment, bickering and badgering. Those we should know and be known by best, end up feeling like adversaries or strangers.

EQ is incredibly powerful in the family because it puts you in control of your relationships10 high-EQ tips for improving family relationships. When you know how you feel, you can’t be manipulated by others emotions; nor can you blame family conflict on everyone else. Most of the techniques for improving family relationships are therefore centered on communicating your feelings to those you care about, as close relationships are centered around feeling.

10 high-EQ tips for improving family relationships

  1. Take care of your health if you hope to take care of anyone else
  2. Listen if you expect to be heard
  3. Teach emotional choice
  4. Teach generosity by receiving as well as giving
  5. Take responsibility for what you communicate silently
  6. Don’t try to solve problems for your loved ones
  7. Make a lasting impression through actions
  8. Acknowledge your errors to everyone
  9. Discover what each person’s unique needs are
  10. Be generous in expressing love
    Click here to read the full article on

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Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me? – Maya Angelou
Our relationship with ourselves sets the tone for all other relationships we have. As we leave full-time work, there are a few things that can happen to us, like a loss of identity and questioning our worth. When our self-worth is low, it can spill over into our interactions with others. It’s important to have positive self-regard. Invest in your relationship with yourself, too.
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Quote by Maya Angelou – If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?

Weekly Question

Last week’s question:
Are relationships one of the aspects you’re preparing for in your retirement? / Are you preparing your relationships for retirement?
Some of the responses we received:
• Yes, each of us are revisiting some of our former hobbies. It’s a great time to do so.
• Everyday task. #respect.
• Yes, it is very important to nurture our relationships.
• Yes I believe it is one of the most important parts of retirement.
This week’s questions:
Have you defined retirement in a unique way? Tell us about it.
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group


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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.