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Where Is Your Mate's Head??

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by Pamela Stephens

Sounds like the question that was popular many years ago, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your child is?†Perhaps this is a sore subject, but do you know what your spouse has planned for their (and thus your) retirement? Okay, he wants to fish and whittle toys for grandsons. Great!! Eventually that will wear off! You can only fish or go bowling so many times before coming to the conclusion that this isn’t what you thought it would be! Have you had the discussion about what your vision of retirement looks like? Or maybe you have calculated what you believe to be your spouse’s plans, not even considering it may be quite different!

One of our “couple†friends found themselves in exactly that position. He had been a faithful employee, had earned kudos for his expertise in his field. He had been living in a particular area for some time, just waiting to “break free†and see the country! Dreams of owning an RV of some kind danced in his head!

It just so happened that the wife in this story, began to be acknowledged for her expertise and wanted to expand her career and broaden it into a partnership with others in her field. Retirement was about three years ahead for her husband at this time, but she was “amping up†when his mind was “winding down†career wise. In the first couple years of her business, there wasn’t an issue. But needless to say, as the last year began before his actual retirement, issues arose that caused great concern. So much so that heated “discussions†became ultimatums. While this was eventually rectified and has a happy ending, it isn’t what we want to look forward to, and could be avoided if discussed before we get that far!

Or perhaps, you are retired already…I can hear that female contingency say, “He’s always under my feet!†I remember when Bob first was at home 24/7, I was running a business out of my home at the time. He walked into my office and said, “What’s for lunch?†I recall saying something like, “I don’t do lunch…unless I’m out shopping.†And then there was the time I returned home from an event to find that Bob had been “helping me outâ€. I opened the pantry to get something out to fix for dinner, and couldn’t find it on the appropriate shelf! Then I realized that none of my “pantry items†were in the same location as before I left. Oh, and my spices were all alphabetized! (I always kept the ones I use all the time close together) When I inquired as to what happened, I was informed that he made everything fit into a practical and more efficient area. I never knew how inefficient my system had been for 30 years!

Any of these issues sound familiar? You are not alone, as they say. But, what do you do about it all? We would suggest you sit down and with all the finesse of an expert tennis champ, broach the subject. Ask lots of questions in a very non-threatening way. Now I know you may want to jump up and down over some of the answers, or say ridiculous things like, “You’ve got to be kidding!â€, but restrain yourself…perhaps it will save you major disappointments up ahead!

Here are some really good ideas for you:

• Understand there’s a difference between a wish and a goal. Often before we retire, we have wish lists that are not realistic. Even realistic goals remain wishes without a plan!

• You know what they say about “assume-ing†things right? It makes an “a… out of u and me!†Sit down with your mate and discuss future plans, not assumptions. Decisions shouldn’t be made upon assumptions by either party.

• Get a clear vision of what “your retirement†will look like. Create a financial plan that will carry you through. If you don’t know how to do that, consult a professional.

• Are you ready to call it quits? Are you sure? Many of us can’t wait to say aloha to a long career, but often finances can call us back; or some just can’t quit altogether, they still need “something†to do to give purpose to their lives. Know what skills and strengths can translate into just such a new position. Perhaps you could keep your hand in things part-time, or tele-commute from home and still earn a pretty penny doing so.

It's better to talk about retirement with your mate BEFORE plans are made and feelings are HURT! Do you relate to any of this? Let us hear from you!

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