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When Your Spouse Retires ... And You Don’t

What changes when one of you drops out? A lot

When it came to closing out his working life, Tom Falvey planned things to a T. After 38 years of service with the federal government, the Arlington, Va., man walked away from his job at the Department of Homeland Security, leaving with a good pension—and health care coverage—on the very day he became eligible for retirement at age 55.

The life that followed was less well thought-out. Falvey and his wife, Jean, 43 at the time, settled into a sometimes out-of-sync existence at home together, he in leisure mode, she running a consulting business from a spare bedroom.

To Tom, a big issue was how to indulge in his noisy hobby of woodworking without disturbing Jean in the next room. To Jean, a big issue was how to manage financially with her husband’s full paycheck gone and her own business suffering in the recession.

“I worried,” she says of the now two-and-a-half-year-old retirement. “Tom’s response was, ‘Everything will be fine.’ It was a Venus and Mars thing.”

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