While a lot of retirement planning information seems to be aimed at couples, statistics show that large fractions of those in the 65+ demographic are single. Pew Research reports that 21% of men and 49% of women in that category are single (i.e., not married nor living with a partner).
Some are single by choice. Others were not planning to be single in retirement but are, due to death or divorce. When decades-old assumptions about our future become obsolete, it can be disorienting. My work has given me the opportunity to learn from many of you in that position.
Adjusting our long-held plans can be a mixed bag. More than one person has expressed to me the joy of answering to no one but themselves, having the freedom to make decisions without debate. A year into widowhood, another person sold a home of thirty years and moved, expressing the sense that the new place was truly theirs. It was the only dwelling they’d ever chosen solely for their own reasons.
My wife and I were nearly a decade into a snowbird lifestyle when she passed. I thought I would always live in Florida at least part-time, as we had been. After being adrift by myself for more than a year, the clouds parted and I saw an answer I never anticipated: I came back to Nebraska as my full-time home.
And then again, others remain in the homes that had served them in life as part of a couple, because the same dwellings continue to serve them well.
Adjustments are often needed in many parts of our lives. Recreation and hobbies we enjoyed as couples may not work for us as singles. Our decisions about work may change. How we eat, exercise, and travel may shift as well.
The pain of sudden surprises like death and divorce remind us that life is always a mix: joy and pain. On the worst days, it pays to remember the duality—there are two parts to that notion, and joy and pain aren’t whole concepts without each other.
When these periods of transition arrive, it seems pretty universally helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to review plans and planning with, and to talk decisions over with. From a practical standpoint, the loss of a partner often means losing the person with whom we used to talk things over. It’s a sensation many people have told me about.
All this is to say, clients, you can talk to me. I’m here to listen when you need to kick an idea around, or rethink something that needs to change because circumstances have changed. Been there, done that – we are all on different journeys, but I’ve been on some of those same roads. Email me or call whenever you might need to talk.
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