The first step in planning for retirement with your spouse is to reach an agreement on your primary objectives. Without that, a strategy is impossible, or at least a lot more complicated and expensive.
I have been amazed at how often I’ve interviewed new clients, couples creating a financial plan, who have fundamental disagreements on what they want from retirement. Sometimes they don’t even realize their differences until I ask them both to write down their ideal retirement. I get back one piece of paper from Mars and one from Venus.
As in all other things with your spouse, communicate clearly and never assume. Lay out precisely what each of you wants and decide how you can make those desires work together. Be specific. I advised one couple that was confident they shared a similar vision of retirement, a home on the beach. Only after I probed further did we all learn that he wanted to live in Florida and she wanted to live in Martha’s Vineyard. Both were shocked, and neither would budge. They had always talked about a beach home, but had never gotten around to specifying which beach.
As part of your review of your financial plan you might also want to confirm that your partner’s plans or wants have not changed. You wouldn’t want to find out years from now that your spouse decided long ago that his view of an ideal retirement had changed, but he had forgotten to tell you.