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Retired Spouses: A National Survey of Adults 55-75

This and Related Reports

To explore how retirement affects married relationships, AARP The Magazine commissioned a telephone survey of individuals ages 55-75, married or living as married, who were retired and/or had a spouse who was retired. The responses of 1,064 survey participants were analyzed. Below are some of the key findings:

  • Most retirees do not reenter the workforce after they retire. Those that do mostly do so because they are bored or miss having something to do. Approximately one-third of those who retire first also encourage their spouse to retire.
  • Overall, retirees who are in a relationship where both spouses are retired are happier, are less stressed, and spend more time with their spouse.
  • Those who say they wished they had worked longer cite lack of money, liking the job, or missing the activity as reasons. Individuals with a working spouse report greater regret than those whose spouse is also retired. Compared with men, women in a relationship where both are retired are more likely to wish they had stayed working longer.
  • Respondents who say their spouses have increased their housework since retirement are more likely to be personally satisfied with their retirement than those whose spouses have not increased their share of the housework. While retired men seem to think they have taken on more of the housework since they retired, working women with a retired spouse disagree.
  • Respondents who report higher dissatisfaction with retirement are also more likely to think that their relationship is weaker, say they are less romantic with their spouse, spend less time with family since retirement, and say they or their spouse has had a harder time adjusting to retirement.
  • Most retirees find adjusting to their retirement or the retirement of their spouse to be what they expected. For most, retirement has meant no change (or some improvement) in their overall relationship, in being romantic with one another, or in arguing with one another.
  • Overall, retirement has a positive impact on the frequency of travel, eating out, exercising, volunteering, and engaging in hobbies.
  • Those who started doing new activities now that they are retired are more satisfied in their retirement than those who have not thought about starting activities or those who are still planning to start them.


Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) conducted this national telephone survey for AARP in November 2007 using a random-digit-dialing sample of U.S. households. The survey included demographic and lifestyle questions as well as questions about retirement. For additional information, contact the report's authors, .Jean Koppen, 202-434-6311, and Gretchen Anderson, 202-434-6343. (54 pages)

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