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The Retired-Couple Life

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Do spouses drive each other mad when retirement gives them more togetherness than they are accustomed to? Less often than you might guess, judging by a new report from AARP The Magazine on how retirement affects couples. (The report analyzes polling data gathered in 2007 among 55-75-year-olds who are married or living as married.)

In couples where both partners are retired, 22 percent of respondents agreed that "Sometimes I get irritated that my spouse is now around me more." Nineteen percent of the women and 8 percent of the men wish their partner had kept working longer. But 76 percent of respondents in these dual-retiree households said they're less stressed now than when they and their spouse were working; 78 percent said they're happier.

It's trickier when one spouse is retired and the other isn't. "Indeed, irritation and tension between spouses are more likely to be a problem for those who are working and have a retired spouse than for those who are retired and have a working spouse." Housework is a factor: "Among those who are working but have a retired spouse, only half say that their spouse has taken on a lot more of the housework now that they are retired."

One part of the study looked at how dual-retiree couples spend the wealth of free time they've now got. Among the things many of them do more than they used to: travel (53 percent do this more), hobbies (43 percent), eating out (43 percent) and exercise (39 percent).