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During lunch today I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR (which, if you know me, is not rare), and one of the main topics was about conflicts that arise over retirement. And while retirement is not necessarily on my own personal radar, the training I did with the Transforming Life After 50 Fellowship prompted me to listen. Which actually was a good thing.
The program featured two author/experts: Kathleen Hughes, who wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal* entitled "He Wants to Retire...But She Doesn't," and Dorian Minzter, the author of The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Transitioning to the Second Half of Life. The two commented on the issues that couples are finding as each partner approaches retirement. Problems such as where to spend retirement, how much money will be available, whether or not to have encore careers, and how to spend free-time multiply when there are two people (and families) involved. And these core issues also bring to the forefront other aspects of a relationship – what happens to one partner when one wants to sit back and enjoy retirement and one doesn’t; or how do some men feel when they are no longer the “breadwinner”. The authors emphasized the importance of creating a plan, as a couple, to tackle the many changes that retirement will bring.
As a librarian, I thought this was interesting on a few different levels. The first, of course, was looking at my collection to see if we had the Minzter book (which I placed an order for right away!). We always seem to carry a number of books that deal with retirement in terms of money, but this program made me consider looking at retirement in terms of how it might affect a marriage. Second, I thought about programming that might help patrons with this issue. What if we found someone who could come in and talk about dealing with retirement as a couple?
Finally, I thought about how we could appeal to the one-half of the couple that retired earlier than the other. One of the authors pointed out that many men struggle when they retire before their mate because their identities are so tied to their job that they haven’t built a support network outside of it. If we found that there were men in our community who were in that situation, how could we design programs and services – such as volunteering – that might help alleviate that?
Anyway, what a great topic to accidentally catch while I was at lunch!
*Apparently, the WSJ has designed an entire segment of their site around what they’re calling the “New Retirement”. I’ve only glanced around, but it looks like a useful resource.