Personal Relationships

Unless you’re a hermit, you don't live your life isolated from others. As the saying goes, "No person is an island." Every day you have social contact with people, some you like and some you don't. Without interacting with people, you may become withdrawn and antisocial.

You’ve probably heard of some people who haven’t only retired from work but appear to have retired from the world. Fortunately, such people are few and far between. When you retire, there will be some changes in how you interact with other people, especially if you haven’t planned for activities to replace your current job.

Besides providing an income, your work provides you with an individual identity. For example, when someone asks you what you do, you reply, "I'm a mechanic" or "I'm an accountant" or whatever your occupation happens to be. Your occupation provides some kind of status or recognition by others, not to mention your own self-esteem. If you’re fully retired, you are no longer a mechanic or accountant; you’re a retiree and a former mechanic or a former accountant.

When someone asks you, "Which company do you work for?" you may reply, "I don't, I'm retired." To some retirees, this dialogue can be disconcerting because it appears to close them off from the active world. As you think about life after work, consider your changing roles, what that will mean to you and the impact on your personal relationships. Who do you spend time with today and how will this change in retirement? What about fifteen years into retirement? Use the Changing Roles: Now and Retirement worksheet to think about the roles you are performing today and those you will be performing in the future.

Loss of a Spouse/Partner

A spouse/partner may be lost through widowhood, divorce or separation. In each case, the transition for most people is traumatic. The end of a relationship may mean a loss of income, loss of identity, loss of love and a loss of your social role. You may need to develop a whole new group of friends, explore new activities and adjust to a reduced income. A far-sighted person will ask him or herself the question “What if...” and prepare for the consequences.

As you think about your personal relationships, record any action steps you may take in the “Action Planning: Relationships” section of the Lifestyle Action Plan. Revisiting your action plans will help you keep them on track.