Relationships in retirement

The early years of retirement can be a dangerous time for relationships.

09 May 2018

This might come as a surprise for many couples who may have been married for over 30 years and seen it all. However things are different now and divorces amongst couples in retirement have been rising rapidly over recent years.

One of the issues that is contributing to this trend is the fact that for many couples, this is the first time in their entire relationship that they’re together 24/7 with no kids or jobs to focus on. Their own relationship is no longer forced into the background while they’re bringing up a family and working on their careers. It’s now a major part of their lives and if it’s not in good shape, it soon starts to show – for one partner at least! The fact is that most of us have changed over the last 30+ years and in many cases couples have drifted apart as they’ve pursued their own agendas.

When a relationship starts to struggle, it often comes as a shock. We’ve all been bombarded by the retirement industry with images of happy retirees walking hand in hand along beaches and we’re not expecting that these early retirement years will produce serious relationship problems. 'We’re supposed to be happy and relaxed, but he’s driving me mad' is a complaint I often hear from married women.

Men are often largely unaware of a dangerous deterioration in the relationship and tend to pass the friction off as a temporary problem that will pass. It’s no surprise that the majority of divorce proceedings at this time of life are started by women. When you think about it, a divorce in your 60s is both a financial and emotional disaster.

Because relationship pressures are such a big issue for many people in their 50s and 60s, Baby Boomers Life Change has published a book titled Relationships in our 50s – 60s and beyond: How yours can survive and thrive. It’s written by Sandra Kimball, an experienced relationship counsellor and it’s an easy to read guide with lots of practical ideas and suggestions. It’s a very useful book for couples facing relationship problems or for people who want to make a good relationship even better. The book is available on their website at

This article originally appeared on the My Life Change website and has been reproduced with permission from Paul McKeon of Baby Boomers Life Change Pty Ltd

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