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A career-focused couple may spend as little as 5 to 6 hours interacting with each other on most days, given hours spent working, commuting, shopping, and running errands apart. Once retired, that same couple may spend as many as 15 to 16 hours together each day, with work and commuting out of the way. When you hear stories of retired spouses or partners getting on each other’s nerves, this difference may have something to do with it.
For many retiring couples, this extra time together is a gift. It offers spouses and partners a chance to savor, renew, or rekindle what is most wonderful about their relationship. Others are surprised by this abundance of time, not really knowing how to spend it and feeling like their days have a kind of inertia. Those who experience that feeling may find a remedy in part-time work, volunteering, and even starting a business. All retiring couples should be aware of this factor and think about how much togetherness or independence they may need. Many pre-retirees aspire to have financial freedom one day; many will have time freedom once they wind down their careers. In arranging their retirement transitions, it will be wise to think about how to spend and enjoy that ample time.1