Men are not necessarily “chomping at the bit” to retire and are encountering issues related to loss of identity and changes to their relationships with their spouses when they do enter that phase of their lives, according to Lyndsay Green, a sociologist and writer, who spoke at the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners’ annual symposium in Richmond, B.C. on Friday.
This reality is contrary to the marketing messages that are communicated to the public of men “eager to throw off those workplace chains and lie on the beach and race around in convertibles,” she said.
Green’s observations are based on interviews she conducted with 44 men between the ages of 50 and 90, and 17 partners to some of those men. Those interviews help support her thesis on men’s feelings toward retirement and are elaborated on in Green’s book, Ready to Retire? What You and Your Spouse Need to Know About the Reality of Retirement, which was published earlier this year.
Green shared her message with the audience of financial planners so they can enhance their knowledge of the psychological, sociological and emotional implications of retiring and have this awareness complement their financial planning for clients.
In talking to her sources for the book, Green found that men have multiple concerns about their retirement beyond having enough money for this stage of life. One key challenge is their perception of themselves once they stop working.
“For this generation of men [who are retired or close to retiring], being a good provider is still how they define themselves,” said Green.
Men also find they miss the intellectual stimulation of their jobs, having a structured day and the social aspect of working outside of the home.
The men who have spoken to Green as a part of her sociological studies have recommended that those who enter retirement develop a “work plan,” rather than a traditional “retirement plan” to keep busy.
A common focus for those men was meeting and making new friends. This led to Green learning of the existence of “men’s sheds,” which are clubs in which men socialize and bond over a common interest. There are several of these men’s sheds in Canada, Green said.
The changes that occur to a relationship once a spouse is spending more time in the home was another concern. Psychology counsellors in Canada find that men preparing for retirement believe they will be spending more time with their spouses than those spouses believe, according to Green.
“Couples need to renegotiate their living space and their relationship,” she said to the audience of financial planners.
Green’s findings from talking to various men for her sociological studies led to her developing the concept for a “retirement emotional circle plan,” which involves taking stock of the friends and family that will help sustain the retired individual as he or she ages.
While pre-retirees are generally focused on building their assets within their RRSPs, they forget about the emotional support they will require when they enter this stage in their lives, according to Green.
The men who Green interviewed as part of her study also shared their unanticipated pleasures of retirement, which included spending more time with various generations of their family, learning new skills and having time to take care of their home.
Green initially began studying the effects of retirement on men because she was curious about what the men in her own life were going through. Although she initially intended to write a similar book for women, she finds women are relating to the lessons in Ready to retire?
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