When we are talking about financial planning, everyone says they want retirement. Everyone uses the same word, “retirement”. What does that actually mean for you? Does that mean that you’re going to never earn another dollar and you’re going to totally depend on your investments, depend on whatever instruments you have in terms of pensions or things like that to make your income work? Or does that mean that you just want to leave this job and find something else, go to something else that you feel is more meaningful to you? You need to understand what you mean by the word “retirement”.
Just as important, what does your spouse mean by “retirement”? That’s really important. I’ve come across the person who says, “I can finally stay home. I can get up late in the morning, I can get my coffee at 10:00 instead of 6:00. I can take my time. I can watch the shows I want. I can go out and have kind of a lazy day, whenever I want. I can choose not to see people.” And compare that up with the spouse who says, “Now I can go see everybody I wanted to go see. Now I get to go to the places I’ve never been before. Now I get to experience some cultures that I’ve never experienced before.” All of a sudden, you’ve got this person who wants to go see the world, and enlarge their life, and they are tied to a person who wants to condense their life. They don’t want to be out there anymore. They just want to have the cocoon of being in retirement. That’s really tough to come across.
Sometimes couples will say, “I’m thinking about retiring on this certain date,” and, “Yeah, I’m think about retiring then, too.” But they never really talk about, what does it actually mean to retire? And they don’t give it any thought because, really, actual retirement is too far away. It’s too hard to describe, it’s too hard to get into it, it’s almost disappointing to think about retirement now--it just depresses you that you can’t retire now. So why think about it? Why talk about it?
"How do we begin talking the same language?"
Then, we get to the point where are actually going to retire, and we find out we have some major differences from our spouse in what it means. And that causes some problems. That’s where the challenge begins: how do we resolve those problems? How do we begin talking the same language? That’s where we find the commonalities of this is what I want, this is who I am, and I realize this is what you want and this is who you are--here’s the intersection of those things. Let’s focus on the intersection while allowing the freedom for each one of us to express our individual needs as well.