Q & A with co-authors Dorian Mintzer and Roberta Taylor
Q: Why did you write the book?
A; It’s hard enough for individuals to think about” what’s next?” as they approach the second half of their lives, and even more complicated when there are two people with possibly different values, goals and dreams. We’ve both worked extensively with individuals and couples and have heard over and over that people aren’t talking together about retirement issues.
Q: Why do you think couples are avoiding conversations about retirement?
A: Our sense is that couples are often avoiding the conversations because they don’t know how to talk about these difficult issues. Money, sex and death have been “taboos” to discuss in our society. The old notion of retirement has meant retiring from, withdrawing and assuming that this leads to decline of one sort or another. Now people are living longer and may have 20 -30 years past the “traditional” retirement age of 62-65. In our book we focus on the importance of communication and provide “Six Steps for Effective Communication.” We know from our personal and professional lives that when couples learn to communicate more effectively and move from polarities to compromise and problem solving there can be real benefits to the relationship.
Q: Why do you call your book The Couples Retirement Puzzle?
A: Although we use the term “retirement” we actually like to think about retirement as a transition and not a destination. We’ve found that it’s more important to focus on what you’re retiring TO rather than what you’re retiring from. Retirement can be a time of new beginnings, challenges and possibilities. We like the word “puzzle” since it’s both a noun and a verb. When people think about retirement the focus is usually on finances—which is certainly one of the most important pieces of the puzzle since it impacts many of the other considerations, but there are other important “pieces of the puzzle” such as if, when and how to retire, health and wellness, where to live, changing roles and identities, sexuality and intimacy, and family relationships. How they will all fit together is unique to each couple and the way they “puzzle it out” together. If you haven’t worked out your finances, you may not be able to achieve your dreams—so you may need to work on the finances and/or change some of the dreams you have. Your health will impact some of your goals. Your values and sense of responsibility and obligations to your family may impact other aspects of your life.
Q: What if two people want completely different things?
A: Actually, that is fairly typical. For many years Ruthie and Morris worked in a family business and spent all of their free time together. They decided to retire earlier than planned when they received a good offer for the business. Morris wanted to sell their home and move to Florida. Ruthie hated hot weather and had no intention of moving away from her children and grandchildren. They were caught in a stalemate. They finally consulted a life planning coach who helped them come up with a creative solution that brought growth to both of them and to the relationship. They agreed that Morris would rent a condo in Florida for the winter months and Ruthie would visit a few times while he was there. Ruthie stayed in their home, started doing some volunteer work in the community and spent time with her children and grandchildren. Both discovered that they loved the opportunity to become more independent and felt a renewed connection when they were together—each invigorated with new aspects of their lives. Morris and Ruthie’s story is a good example of how a “win-win” solution is possible when couples listen to and respect what is important to each other.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are just beginning to think about this stage of their lives?
A: It’s never too early or too late to talk about and plan for “what’s next.” Be willing to listen to your partner and understand what’s really important to him or her. Be open to possibilities that you may not have thought about before. Sometimes you’ll need to “agree to disagree” and come back to the conversation having considered a different perspective. Learning how to communicate is a process as well as an opportunity for both of you to grow individually, deepen your relationship and create the life you both want to be living.
About the Authors …
Dorian Mintzer, M.S.W., Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, career/life transition coach, executive coach, consultant, teacher and speaker. She is a licensed third age coach and a 2Young2Retire certified facilitator. She facilitates workshops and speaks to community and professional groups on topics related to mid-life issues. She is founder of the Boomers and Beyond special interest group for interdisciplinary professionals. She utilizes her life experiences and expertise in adult development and holistic life planning in her work with helping individuals and couples navigate the second half of life.
Roberta K. Taylor, RNCS, M.Ed., is a licensed psychotherapist, life transition coach and consultant, and couples relationship coaching specialist. A member of the National Speakers Association, she facilitates workshops and speaks to professional and community organizations on topics related to midlife and retirement transition. She brings her expertise in adult development and life planning, as well as her own life experience, to working with individuals and couples facing the challenges and opportunities in the second half of life. She believes that couples do best when they think ahead and plan together.
Further information is available at: http://www.couplesretirementpuzzle.com.