When the old spark has gone

Couples find it impossible to live with each other during retirement, according to a study done by Skipton Building Society in the UK. The study of 660 retired people still in relationships also showed many find their old spark has gone after giving up work.

Instead of celebrating their newfound freedom together, a massive 80 percent of respondents found they don’t share any of the same hobbies and interests, while one in five bickered about the lack of money.

Four in 10 of the older people polled also admitted they needed to learn how to live with each other again now that the children have left the nest and they are no longer committed to work.

The study also indicated one-third of retirees spend much of their time arguing about silly things with the other half, and a surprisingly 13 percent admitted they “irritate each other beyond belief”.

A further 29 percent were surprised to find they didn’t have the same expectations for their ‘golden years’.

Shared Stacey Stothard, corporate communications manager at Skipton Building Society: “It is easy to believe that when couples reach retirement, they might encounter all sorts of problems with their relationship.

“For the previous 30 or 40 years, they will have been set in a routine – going out to work, juggling looking after the children and pursuing their individual interests. Day to day, they might only have had an hour or two of quality time together, with the rest of their day allocated to other commitments.”

She added: “Suddenly, when faced with the prospect of spending 24 hours a day together, seven days a week, without work or the children to talk about, couples can find it hard to adjust.”


More findings

Other study findings:

• While the majority of people enjoyed retirement, a quarter said managing their relationship is trickier and more difficult than they had imagined it would be.

• A third of those polled said that while one of them prefers to do everything together, the other likes socialising with friends more.

• Money worries understandably lead to upsets in many relationships of any age – half of all the retired respondents admitted the lack of money taints an otherwise happy retirement. For a fifth of those polled, they shared that many arguments stemmed from the fact that one-half of the partnership likes to spend all of the spare money, while the other half likes to save it for a rainy day.

• The rising cost of food, petrol and fuel bills all serve to make retirees anxious, as does the fact that couples have more time to shop, but less money to spend.

• Another cause for concern is the additional free time available to people who don’t work – many couples struggle to fill the hours with so much spare time, and probably argue more as a result; indeed, 11 percent often disagree about how they will spend their day. One-fifth of the people admitted they are simply not used to having so much spare time on their hands. Other arguments stemmed from one interfering with the other when cooking, disagreeing about how long one is spending on the phone, and one wanting to laze around while the other has lots of ‘get up and go’.

• However, happily, nine in 10 couples do think that eventually they will settle in to a happy retirement together.

• Ninety-three percent claimed the temporary glitch in their relationships has nothing to do with a lack of love or commitment.


A need for planning early on

Stothard added: “People retire from work, not life, and making the most of this exciting opportunity to finally do the things they’ve always dreamed of doing is something most working-age people really envy! Without a doubt, a key part of a happy retirement is planning. Couples who plan their retirement ambitions together are likely to argue less and enjoy each other’s company more when they stop work.”

She said: “But planning shouldn’t start the moment you retire – in fact, the earlier you think about it the better. As a couple, it’s important to get to grips with what your expected financial position upon retirement will be, and understand how much money you will have coming in each month to live on. With a bit of luck, organising these practical things well in advance should enable you to enjoy a happier retirement together.”



1. Don’t share the same hobbies and interests.
2. Need to learn to live with each other again.
3. One wants to laze around, the other wants to get up and go.
4. Don’t have as much to talk about now the children have left home and you don’t work.
5. The ‘old spark’ has temporarily gone.
6. Bicker about silly things.
7. Different expectations for the retirement.
8. One nags the other too much.
9. One prefers to socialise with friends, while one prefers it to be just the two of you.
10. One spends all the spare money, while the other wants to save it for a rainy day.
11. Don’t have as much in common.
12. Lack of money/income.
13. Struggle to fill the hours with so much spare time.
14. Harder living together.
15. Enjoy each other’s company less.
16. One interferes and watches over when the other is trying to cook.
17. Simply irritate each other beyond belief.
18. Simply don’t get on very well.
19. Disagree about how to spend the day.
20. Bicker about how long one is spending on the phone.


(** Special thanks to 72Point Digital Hub.)


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