Retiring from the military looks different for everyone, but there are a few commonalities to keep in mind if you want to transition successfully.
First, make a plan. It doesn’t have to be done far in advance, but military couples should talk about a few things before taking the plunge.
- Talk about where you want to live. Do you want to stay near your last base? Near a base for continued medical care? Do you go back to your home state? Is living near family important?
- Will the retiree work? Many people are still young when they retire from the military. Do they want to get a job? A whole new career?
- Is it the spouse’s turn to do what she or he wants to do? Many spouses have put their lives and careers on hold to follow the military member around the globe. Is it their turn to develop their own career?
- What about the kids? Depending on their ages, you may want to stay put until they are out of high school.
Second, make sure your marriage is strong. Again, depending on your children’s ages, you will be living together, just the two of you, soon enough. If you haven’t worked on your marriage throughout the military career, life can be different for you later. The Good Chaplain had to retire because he was about to age out of the system. We had been empty-nesters for six of our assignments. If we didn’t like each other, we would have been in trouble. But throughout our marriage, we put each other first. We had regular date nights. We had similar interests. And our focus wasn’t totally on our girls. When they left for college, our relationship continued as it always had been. “The best thing you can give your children is a good marriage,” the Good Chaplain said.
Third, as a military spouse, think about what you really want. It really should be your turn to be a little selfish and get what you want out of your life. I sometimes feel I am too old to do what I want, but here I am at 61, writing a book to help new military spouses figure out the whole system. Determine what you want to do and go for it. In fact, start now before retirement. And don’t let age be a factor. You are never too old to follow a dream.
Sit down with your spouse, ask these questions, and go out and make your retirement years the best they can be! You’ve got this.
Until next time,
What are your retirement dreams? Do you want a career? Do you want to travel? Put your answers in the comment section below. And don’t forget to follow this blog so you never miss a post.