Improving communication, emotional impact of retirement

Dear Mary Jo,

How can I communicate better to my wife instead of holding back?

Thank you, Videl

Dear Videl,

Your feelings are important, and learning to express them will bring you and your partner closer. Guys are often socialized to think of feelings as feminine, which makes them less comfortable with expressing themselves; but, feelings are feelings and they’re felt regardless of your gender. The best way to begin is finding a time when you’re alone and able to talk to without being interrupted. Tell your wife you want to talk and explain what makes it difficult for you. Once she understands your reluctance or discomfort with being vulnerable with your feelings, she can help you feel safer and more supported. Holding back with what you feel leads to resentment and more distance in your relationship. Let her into your heart…by telling her how you feel.

Dear Mary Jo,

I’m familiar with the financial impact of retirement, but do you have recommendations for better preparing for the emotional impact of retirement?

Thank you, Mark


Dear Mark,

Unfortunately, the majority of people are consumed with the financial aspects of retirement and overlook the emotional aspects, leaving them unprepared for the range of feelings they experience. Retirement changes your identity, or who you thought you were, because of your position at work. It changes your purpose, as well as your friendships. Just as you have to change and evolve into a new life, your friends change their frequency of conversation and meet ups. My suggestions include:

  1. Give yourself time to grieve and leave your work-life identity. Saying goodbye to who you were there and preparing to build a life outside of that identity takes time. Not doing so can lead to grief and depression.
  2. Get active. Exercise is the best medicine, and it also helps build confidence and makes you feel more energized.
  3. Invest time into your relationship and friendships. When you’re retired, you can go out on Wednesday night, have a late dinner, and not worry about getting up on time.
  4. Have a schedule or daily routine in the beginning until you are more comfortable having free time.
  5. Have your own interests separate from your partner and get involved with projects you always wanted to try but never had the time – whether it’s a great book, a volunteer opportunity, or a new job. This is the time you’ve used to put off living the life you want. Live it now!