Are You Retirement Compatible?

When it comes to retiring are you and your significant other on the same page?

In life and relationships we talk about a lot of things in regards to goals, religious beliefs, values, children and who is going to clean the toilet…lol. Most often, we gloss over at what age we are going to retire as it seems so far away when we are young.

These days though, many partners are talking about taking a break from their jobs for a year or two fully expecting they will find another job eventually. Some are trying to catch up with retirement funds, paying off debt that was unexpected and dealing with the cost of relationship breakdowns. Life can get complicated and a large amount of people put time away from working on the back burner. We live in a world now where you could be working into your seventies.

So, have you had the talk with your partner? Are you retirement compatible? What if you aren’t aligned on timing, expectations and lifestyle?

I remember thinking in my twenties that I would retire at 65. I would work, most likely, at one maybe two jobs. I would have a pension and some savings and life would be awesome when I turned 65. Well, we all know what happens to life while we are living. So many things are unexpected and not planned for. You wake and realize that those you love and expected to grow old with or around have either passed away or in bad health. You feel older. You slow down when you are hiking. You are weaker and feel pain in your joints. When did I start to get older? I thought all those things happened in your seventies not your fifties. I watch those around me and I realize my window of opportunity to live with abandonment is shortening. I can’t rely on being in good health when I am 65. I know my abilities today and I feel that if I can continue to build strength and endurance now that as I get older the longevity should hold. At least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

I have been talking to many friends and family about their plans. Some wanted to take time off to travel now and then maybe go back to work when they get tired of doing that. Others plan to work until they can’t work anymore well into their seventies or beyond. Others plan to work and play and juggle the two. What has been a common theme though is that most find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it comes to agreement from their partner as to both being on the same page.Life throws us curve balls. I am a firm believer that the universe shakes things up when we get too complacent. 

My universe is telling me to squeeze the lemons now. Get as much juice as you can out of this existence. My husband is planning on working another 9 years or so.I am hoping he will decide that there is more to life than stock piles of money and things. You can’t rush someone else’s discoveries. You shouldn’t wait though to “do you”. It’s scary to venture out on your own. It’s even scarier to sit and wait for someone else to get on board.

Life’s obstacles are constant and ever coming at you. I had journeyed with an eagle in the past and it had shown me to put the chaos in my palm and squeeze out order and decisions from it. It’s an exercise I can do physically to help me focus on which direction to follow. Mistakes will be made, that’s how we move forward. It takes more courage to act than to stand still and watch.

Next week I am taking a break from van renos to hang out in Banff with my sister in law. We have decided to go tandem skydiving and caving. The waivers are signed and the deposits are given. I am making lemonade with the sweetest ingredients I can find. I am not saying that finding common ground with your partner isn’t important. It totally is. Respect for each other and practical goals are key. Time away from work doesn’t have to be expensive. I find a balance of things I do that are free and things that are epic adventures that may cost me a bit. It’s the doing that counts. The sharing of the experience. We all relied heavily on our memories during COVID of things we had done in the past to get us through the rough patch. I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with so many adventures in my life so far.

It’s funny how the biggest regret in life is usually the ones that involve not doing something rather than taking the leap and trusting you will land safely. The journey is worth it!

Hopefully your partner agrees that taking breaks sooner rather than later is the way to go. If they don’t then it’s up to you to decide whether you stay put and wait for them or…

Get into that harness, secure the lines and find someone who is compatible with the here and now of your awareness.

I Do…For Now

Here I sit, a week before Valentine’s Day, thinking about the “connection” theme Vanessa and I chose for this month. One of the most significant connections we make is with a life partner…or in my case…partners.

You see, I never did find my “one and only” life connection. Unlike my parents who were married for 53 years, I have a history of “I do…for now” marriages.

My first marriage happened two months before my 21st birthday. We met at university, dated for two years, and got married the same week I wrote the last five finals of my Bachelor’s degree. At the time, I made vows to love and cherish for the rest of my life – and meant it. What do we know when we’re in our early twenties? That marriage lasted 5 years, though it was over shortly after the first two years. My husband decided to devote himself to piano studies at the detriment of our marriage. I now tell friends, “When your husband buys you a dog to keep you company, go directly to your lawyer.” A dog can’t fill the void created by an inattentive spouse. However, it did spawn a life-long passion with dog training and competition, and for that I am grateful.

I met Husband #2 online. We chatted for a while, started to call, and eventually met in person. We clicked. Within a year, we had bought a house and moved in together. A year after that, we were married. Again, I said “I do” in front of a (much smaller) group of friends and family – and meant it.

There was a twelve year age difference between us. It wasn’t an issue when I was in my early 30’s and he in his mid-40’s. It became an issue when we adopted our son a few years later. While we had many similarities that grew and developed our relationship early on, our ideas about how we wanted to raise our son were different. I wanted to be outdoors, active, and experience new things. He was content to sit at home, watch TV, and read. I wanted us to provide a life of experiences for our son. He was happy to have me do it on my own.

That marriage lasted 12 years. Once more, I hadn’t found my life-long connection.

After the second marriage, I didn’t want a relationship. I started to online date again and developed “friends with benefits” connections. This worked for me. I was happy on my own. I had my home, my son, and companionship when I wanted it. Over time, one of the FWBs turned into a dating relationship, which turned into co-habitation. This time, I didn’t want to get married. I was happy living together. However, he’d had a common-law relationship and wanted a marriage. In the end, I acquiesced.

The cracks started to form after a couple of years. I was determined to make this marriage work. After all, it was my THIRD marriage – I HAD to get this one right! We’ve discovered we were together more for my son than for us. He wanted to be a dad, and I was (subconsciously) looking for a dad for my son, as his had moved away and wasn’t a daily part of his life. Despite my best efforts, we weren’t able to function as a married couple. At some point, we will divorce, sell the house, and go our separate ways. For now, we are fortunate to have the space to have distinct living quarters so we can continue to enjoy our home, yard, and neighbourhood.

Which brings me to my current relationship. Have I finally found my life-long connection? Who knows? What does “forever” mean after three failed marriages? The series of “I do….for now” is done. There will be no marriage for us. We love each other too much to ever want to feel beholden or trapped. Our relationship is based on what we feel for each other in the present. As much as we’d like to think what we have will continue to grow and sustain, we can’t be certain. All we have is “…for now”, and for now, that’s enough.