How Retirement Affects Marriages.
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Author:||Lang, Susan S.|
|Publication:||Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2001 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2001 Source Volume: 29 Source Issue: 3|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
THE TRANSITION TO retirement is particularly stressful, especially
when one spouse retires before the other, says a new study. During this
time, couples fight much more and are significantly less satisfied with
their marriages. Once both spouses are comfortably settled into
retirement, however, couples report the highest levels of marital
satisfaction with the least conflict, compared with their still-working
or newly retired peers.
"It's not being retired but becoming retired that seems most stressful for marriages," says Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology and human development and director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center. Even newly retired men and women report more marital conflict than their not-yet retired or long-term retired (more than two years) counterparts. Marital quality slumps the most among couples in which only one spouse retires, especially when the husband retires and the wife keeps working.
When women first retire, however, they go through a spell of low marital satisfaction, whether their husbands are working or not. But they become more satisfied if they either go back to work in other jobs or their husbands retire and then go back to work. Women, especially employed women, report more marital conflicts when their husbands retire and do not go back to work.
"Men, however, show a different pattern. They reported the highest marital conflict if they retire but their wives haven't yet. When both husbands and wives move into retirement more or less together, men become much happier with their marriages," says Moen.
The study, co-authored with Jungmeen Kim, now an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, and Heather Hofmeister, a graduate student in Cornell's Department of Sociology, is published in the March 2001 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly. The researchers drew on data that were collected between 1994 and 1997 from the Cornell Retirement and Well-being Study. They studied 534 married men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 in upstate New York who were either retired, newly retired, or soon-to-be retired. Their study is unique in that it looked at how career jobs, the retirement transition, retirement, and employment after retirement affect marital satisfaction and conflict. Retirement was defined as being eligible for or receiving a pension from one's career employer and/or receiving Social Security.
"Our findings suggest that retirement needs to be viewed as both a process and as a state," Moen says. "Also, we need to consider the life-course notion of how lives are linked and affected by what a spouse does. Furthermore, retirement can no longer be equated with a one-way, one-time exit from the work force, and employment after retirement has important implications for marital quality. Post-retirement employment is related to marital quality differently than employment in one's career job is related to marital quality."
The study is part of a larger project, funded by the National Institute of Aging, as part of the Cornell Gerontology Research Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and as part of the Cornell Employment and Family Careers Institute.
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|