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Renegotiating living arrangements

Mary had been retired for 5 years and had a good social life with plenty of friends and lots of activities. She did most of the domestic chores and had a pretty busy week.

05 Jun 2018

Mary had been retired for 5 years and had a good social life with plenty of friends and lots of activities. She did most of the domestic chores and had a pretty busy week.

Her husband, Bill had been looking forward to his retirement for years and had plans for lots of things that they could do together.

Once Bill retired, they found that living together 24/7 required lots of adjustments which neither of them had given much thought to and their financial planner hadn’t spoken about.

It wasn’t instant domestic bliss and it took quite a few months of discussions and negotiation to find a reasonable balance in their new roles. While there were lots of issues to work through, these were the three which caused the most stress and required compromise on both sides.


Traditionally, because Bill was bringing home a salary, he had paid most of the expenses and controlled the family finances. Now that both were retired and living off their superannuation funds, there was a need to renegotiate how much each contributed towards household expenses. This can sometimes cause problems like –

Should both contribute the same amount? While this sounds fair, Bill had a far larger super account than Mary.

Should the partner who dominates the major spending decisions contribute more than the partner who doesn’t have much input?

Does any of this matter to both partners?

Obviously everyone’s situation is different, but you can see that there’s plenty of issues to discuss and it’s a good idea to do this before tensions start to rise.

Domestic chores

While one partner is in the workforce and one is at home, traditionally the one at home does most of the domestic chores. However when both are retired, it seems fair that there should be a reallocation of household tasks. Bill had trouble with this idea and thought that Mary should do all the cooking, cleaning and washing, because she always had. This issue caused a number of demarcation disputes before there were some frank discussions and industrial peace was restored.

Social arrangements

For most couples, living together 24/7 on a permanent basis is a new experience. It’s not like being together on a 3 week holiday and often takes some major adjustments. Most wives are not enthusiastic about giving up their existing social lives because their husbands are at home all the time. Husbands often struggle with a loss of identity now that they can’t identify with their old job or they have trouble adapting to a life without routines. Both partners generally need their own space and it often takes time and negotiations to agree on new living arrangements.

You can save yourself a lot of angst by discovering in advance what this transition period involves and how you can best prepare for it. There’s lots of expert advice in our retirement planning books which you can buy on our web site 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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