Retirement can put strains on marriages.

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Yes, there are still people who plan to retire. Ah, but are they happy in their new lifestyle of leisure, leisurely pursuits and more leisure? More specifically, which gender enjoys retirement more: Men or women?

Remember, the baby boomers — who are edging toward retirement — are the first generation where both men and women worked outside the home and earned retirement money and benefits.

Both feel the right to retire in the style to which they want to be accustomed.

And that, say psychologists for both men and women, explains why the divorce rate is declining for all age groups except the 60-plus crowd. Right now, Al and Tipper Gore are the couple du jour in that arena, but they aren’t alone. One couple who were 98 complained about incompatibility when they split.

All the result of women becoming economically independent? Does that matter? I didn’t say I have the answer. Maybe you do.

Or a reader (who asked to be anonymous) who asks:

“What happens to men who retire and cannot be budged out of the recliner?

“Women friends of mine, having seen the kids off on their own, cared for elderly relatives, retired from a job, see at long last their chance to experience a bit of life that has not been possible to date. Travel beckons! Time to learn a new skill or take up dancing, yoga, dinner out! They are so tired of the domestic routine that they could scream, but they can’t get the husband interested in anything. The TV blares all day while their husbands sleep.

“I have started going to concerts, museums, etc. on my own. Recently I went on a brief trip with a large group. There was a nice older man — traveling alone — and I noticed how much he was enjoying himself and how much we seemed to have in common. It was so nice, but I felt a bit of betrayal, though I did not disguise that I was married.

“What are we missing about these men?”

My answer: Maybe we aren’t missing anything. Maybe they are. Hmmm?

Women ready to go-go and men refusing to leave home are an age-old retirement portrait, says psychologist Jed Diamond, who writes about male menopause. “I see a lot of men at midlife and older who are basically depressed. They need understanding and help.”

Will they get it? Kathy Nickerson, Irvine, Calif.-based marriage counselor suggests: “Try the reward approach. Build in some reward for him — like a day-trip shopping with a stop-off at an Indian casino.”

The concept that men are the caretakers of life has been fading since women thronged to the workplace, she says. But boomer women are now in a tough spot — caught between lingering memories of the way it was and the newer, liberated couplings demanded by the 21st century.

“People are feeling disconnected,” she says. “They don’t feel loved or liked by their spouse.

“Let’s face it — marriage seems so disposable today. For the most part, women have a lower threshold for tolerating unhappy relationships. Men will cheat and women will divorce.”

And what will you do? Email me your thoughts at

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Jane Glenn Haas is the founder of WomanSage. Contact her at