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Strengthening Bonds: 7 Activities for Couples in Retirement

As retirement closes the chapter of your life as a full-time worker, it opens a new chapter in your relationship with your spouse. Retirement can be a time for couples to reconnect with each other, strengthen bonds, explore new opportunities, and grow together. And now that you’re both free from the time constraints of working and raising a family, you can spend your time sharing activities you've always loved, as well as discovering new passions that could take retirement in surprising directions.

I often recommend that new retirees start with a blank sheet of paper or a blank calendar and try to build out what a day, week, month, and year of their ideal retirement would look like. Here are some ideas you can use to fill in all those blocks with fun, fulfilling, and lasting memories.

1. Travel.

Now that you don't have to design vacations around work schedules, sports practices, and your kids' attention spans, there's a whole world of travel options for you and your spouse to explore. Work out an annual travel budget with your financial advisor so they can help you start planning those bucket list trips. Also, consider travel destinations that let you spend more time doing activities you love, like golf, tennis, high-end shopping, or touring museums. If you're looking to expand your social circle in retirement, group tours or cruises tailored for retirees can cover the logistics and give you and your spouse more time to mingle. Slow travel is another popular option for retirees. Instead of dashing from one place to another, spend a week or more in a new city, live like the locals, and immerse yourselves in a new culture.

2. Share a hobby.

Anyone who has tried to teach their spouse how to play their favorite sport will probably warn you against it. If you aren't both already playing doubles, why not try getting into a new sport or hobby together? Turn a spare bedroom into a crafting space where you can make pottery or paint. Take couples cooking lessons and plan out your weekly meal rotation. See what all the fuss is about and stop by your local pickleball court. My (semi-retired) podcast co-host, Steve Sanduski and his wife recently started learning how to sail. You might also have more fun spending a month or two trying a whole bunch of different things and finding one or two new activities that stick.

You could also dive back into things that you and your spouse enjoyed doing together before you were married. What are those activities you tried to squeeze in during the weekends before life started getting busier? Get back to seeing live music, checking out new restaurants, camping, or running out of town on a moment's notice. Reconnect with your younger selves, and you might rediscover what brought you together in the first place.

3. Volunteer.

Giving back can be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time in retirement. Sharing that experience with your spouse can double that gratification and your impact while also helping you both start to think about what kind of legacy your family can create. Have a discussion with your spouse about the causes or problems that are most important to you. Food banks, community clean-up programs, schools, and nonprofits are almost always looking for folks who can volunteer a couple of hours every week and potentially more during fund drives and holidays. You could also organize your own charitable initiatives, such as a neighborhood food and clothing drive or a carpool to help elderly neighbors get their groceries.

4. Get healthy. 

Some seniors who never found time to commit to an exercise routine think it's too late to get started in retirement. But just a simple morning walk can start building towards a healthier, happier you. Take those first steps with your spouse and you'll not only have someone to share that fitness journey with, but you'll also have a partner who will provide accountability and motivation on those days when the couch is just too comfy, as well as someone to celebrate with as you pass new fitness milestones. Exercise can also be a great way to work on other shared retirement goals. Try something new like yoga, tai chi, or ballroom dancing classes; you may even meet new people while also getting out of your comfort zone.

5. Renovate your home. 

Your life in retirement is going to change, so why not change your home to match? Now that the kids have moved out, think about ways to use those empty bedrooms. If you never had enough time to exercise your collective green thumbs, build out your backyard garden or start growing your own vegetables. Handymen or handywomen might focus on a kitchen or bathroom redesign. If one of you has the eye and another has the skills, divvy up tasks, learn from each other's strengths, and collaborate on making the ideal home for this next stage of your life.

6. Plan date nights.

Spontaneity can be an important part of a long-lasting relationship. But even in retirement, it can be easy to get so caught up in life that you forget to set aside the valuable one-on-one time every couple needs. Schedule a weekly or monthly date night for a quiet dinner, a trip to the theater, or a long bike ride. Leave your to-do list and all your other concerns for tomorrow and spend some quality time appreciating the person who's helped you reach this exciting new stage of life.

7. Learn. 

Your dream trip to Paris might be that much more rewarding after six months of French lessons at your local community college. Take some YouTube music classes and tune up your living room duets. Attend lectures, workshops, or seminars that may give you a new perspective, spur new interests, or even connect you with other curious retirees who share your love for learning.

If you and your spouse would like to learn more about financial markets, the global economy, or your own financial planning, Keen Wealth Advisors can be an excellent resource. Our blogs and podcasts could provide you and your spouse with something new to read, listen to, learn from, and discuss every week. We also host free educational events year-round, both online and live in the Kansas City metro area.

Click here to sign up for our mailing list or call Keen Wealth and schedule a meeting so that we can learn more about what you and your spouse want to accomplish together in retirement.

About Bill

Bill Keen is a financial advisor with nearly 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

KWMG, LLC’s dba Keen Wealth Advisors (“company”) is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Overland Park, KS. The company and its representatives may only conduct business in those states where registered or where excluded/exempt or from licensure. For registration information please contact the SEC or the state securities regulators for the states where the company is notice filed. A copy of the company ADV is available upon request. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where the company and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by the company unless a client service agreement is in place. This information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy and is for illustrative purposes only. Clients and prospective clients must consider all relevant risk factors involved with each strategy, including costs or fees, and their own personal financial situations before trading.

The views outlined in the book, Keen on Retirement Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, are those of the author and should not be construed as individualized or personalized investment advice. Any economic and/or performance information cited is historical and not indicative of future results. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

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