You've seen the portrait-like photographs—a husband and wife sitting side by side onthe porch swing, happy in their retirement.In reality, however, that image occurs lessoften than you'd think. According to a recent report, as more women pursue fulfillingcareers or return to work after raising a family, theiridea of retirement and when to retire is starting to differdramatically from their husbands' idea.
The article explains that many husbands, accustomedto being the breadwinner, resent that their wivesare still working. Some even feel threatened by the rolereversal. Meanwhile, wives often resent that their husbandsare sitting at home, sometimes refusing to helpout with chores. And since previous generations didn'thave to deal with this phenomenon, there are few peopleto talk to about how it should be handled.
A recent Cornell University study of 534 retirement-aged men and women found that workingwomen whose husbands were retired or disabled werethe least happy with their marriages. Conversely,working men whose wives stayed at home were themost happy. US Census data indicate that there's likelyto be a lot of unhappy women. The percentage ofhouseholds where a man aged 55 or older has notworked in the previous year but the wife has workedincreased from 9.6% in 1990 to 10.9% in 2000.
Part of the problem stems from a couple's failureto discuss how they would like to live during the nextstage of their lives. In a two-career household, husbandsoften retire earlier than their younger wives.They're excited about retirement and anticipate theirwives will retire shortly after they do. When that doesnot happen, there are problems.
The lack of communication over what constitutesretirement also leads to problems when a husband hasbeen retired for several years and their spouse decidesto follow suit. According to the article, husbandswho have a formulated daytime routine oftenfeel as if their space is being invaded. Wives, feelingunwanted, will often return to work. Thistrend could impact physicians unless they begin communicatingopenly with their spouses regarding theirimage of retirement and how they plan to spend it.
A recent Merritt, Hawkins & Associates (www.merritthawkins.com) survey of physicians ages 50 to 65indicates that more than 75% have found the practiceof medicine to be less satisfying over the past 5 years. Asa result, more than 50% said they want to makechanges in their medical practices within the next 1 to 3years, with 8% of them planning to retire and 6% seekingwork on a temporary or basis.
But even if doctors decide to put their retirementson hold, it's only a matter of time before it becomes areality. With that in mind, it might be a good time toshare your views on retirement and plans for thefuture with your spouse, if you haven't already. Doingso could help you avoid considerable anxiety in thefuture.