6 questions to ask your partner before retirement

Make sure you’re on track for a happy and harmonious retirement with our checklist

You’ve probably been daydreaming about retirement for years – perhaps you’ve pencilled in a trip of a lifetime, dream volunteer role or a hobby you’ve never had a chance to try. When these plans feel almost concrete in your mind, it’s easy to assume that your partner not only knows them, but is completely on-board and willing to fit in with whatever you need from him. But assumptions can be tricky - a study from 2013 found that almost half of couples disagree on the lifestyle they want post-retirement. So it’s worth sitting down together as soon as possible, and having some honest heart-to-hearts, as there may be easy ways to compromise if your plans are at odds.


When do we want to retire?

It’s likely at some point in your relationship the topic will already have naturally occurred, but it’s worth checking in to see what you’re both feeling at this current point. You may feel ready to retire earlier or later, depending on your health and energy levels, as might your partner. A follow-up question to consider is whether you both want to retire at the same time, or if in fact one of you is naturally winding down while the other is still keen to take on new challenges. Statistically women tend to live ten years longer than men, so if you’re in good health you might want to keep cash flowing in rather than risk outliving your retirement savings. It might be worth talking to an independent financial advisor as you weigh up your options together.


What would our perfect retirement look like?


“I’ve come across a lot of people who make the mistake of assuming that their partner shares the same dreams about retirement and will want to pursue the same activities and lifestyle changes,” says life coach Liz Freeman. “But it’s not always the case. It’s all about being honest with one another, because retirement has to work for both of you. “Make individual lists of your wants and needs – even throwing in some imaginative ideas, such as visiting the Great Wall of China – and then come together to talk it through. Can you do these things together; separately; or can you compromise at all? “If your partner wants to do something that you’re initially against, listen properly to what they have to say before dismissing anything.”


How much time will be spent together?

Moving from spending evening and weekends as a pair to all day, every day together can be a shock to the system. “I think it’s important not to be too reliant on each other,” says Liz. “Look at things you want to do independently and what you’d like to do together.” Spending time apart exploring your own interests means you’ll have plenty to talk about in the evenings, as well as giving you time to make new friends.


Will we stay in our home or downsize?


"This is a big decision and one that needs a lot of detailed thought and discussions about what you want your lifestyle to look like post retirement,” says Liz. “For example, where to do want to live? What about family and friends coming to visit – will you have room for them to stay? What about outdoor space? Will the property suit your life as you get older? And do you want to free up some cash to take a trip of a lifetime?”


Who will be responsible for what?

Sadly, just because the day job is finished, it doesn’t mean the housework magically comes to an end! You may have had certain roles around the house throughout your working lives depending on the hours you worked, and you should discuss whether or not you’re happy for them to stay the same. It might even be worth writing down the jobs that need doing, how often they’re required and who is to do them, to avoid conflict further down the line.


Who will pay for what?


You might have big retirement dreams but can you afford them? Many people make the mistake of picking their retirement date based on their birthday rather than their bank account. You need to get a clear idea of your financial situation and work out a budget. Can you afford your plans? If not, what are your options, would you be happier to work longer to build your pension pot or would you rather opt for a quieter retirement?


  • Speaking to a financial advisor may be helpful in ironing out details. Find one at the Independent Financial Advisor
  • For more money advice pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday 

Words by Lizzy Dening