Retirement May 23


My husband’s a mathematician – isn’t that scary? Sometimes people ask me what we talk about. Sometimes I’ll tell them that he whispers seductive equations in my ear – like “just think about the square root of eight hundred and twelve….” But most often he tells me - and most people - “Mathematics is Everywhere.”

I certainly found it in a recent Forbes Magazine article on Retirement. The author, Joseph Coughlin, a well-known researcher, teacher, and head of the MIT Age Lab, wrote about “The New Math of Retirement Togetherness.”

It went something like this: There are 168 hours in a week. During that time, approximately 56 hours are spent sleeping, leaving 112 waking hours in a week for each of us. [No, this is not an SAT Math question.]

Now, if a typical workday is, say, nine hours - that makes it minus 45 hours a week away from your partner. This brings it to 67 hours of together time. Then he continued his calculation by allowing an hour a day for travel (subtracting 5 hours for the workdays) and that brought the discussion to 62 hours of ‘togetherness’ in a week.

At this point Coughlin went on to narrow things down even more, stating that life routines of home/child/personal responsibilities, etc., result in the reality that a typical working couple may often spend only six (6) hours a day together! Quite a surprise when we do the math, right? (See above box.)

But that wasn’t quite the end of his calculations. Professor Coughlin then went on to compare this number to the number of hours couples spend together IN

RETIREMENT. This meant: the original 45 hours a week of work plus 5 hours of travel that were subtracted are now added back.

So, let’s see, that’s now 45 + 5 = 50 extra hours per week. Then, when we divide by 5 for a daily calculation…, get ready for it…, it basically means:




Is that paradise? What will you do with that newly awarded together time? What if you already have a schedule that you enjoy? How will you handle the expectation of sharing lunch together every day?

Think about how smart and happy you and your partner will feel in retirement if you have already worked on these challenges! Everyone has different needs and activities that give them purpose and make them feel fulfilled. There will be things that you do together, but there must also be those separate activities that bring you satisfaction.

I recently ran into a neighbor and his wife. He is an executive who is looking forward to leaving the deadlines and fundraising behind. I asked him how he plans to spend his time, and his wife immediately answered, “He’s going to paint the family room, clean out the garden, and join the choir so we can sing together on

Sundays!” I looked at him and he rolled his eyes and said, “Do I have a choice?” The answer is “Yes, you do have a choice.” Discuss it NOW so you both can enjoy the added time together later.

Plan your retirement before you get there. Or, if you’ve already arrived, start today by talking about and understanding each person’s wants and needs. If you need some help, let me know. Good Luck, and Happy May!


P.S. Last night, before he turned out the light, my husband whispered:

‘A’ squared plus ‘B’ squared = ‘C’ squared!


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