Transcript: Love and relationships in retirement
Angellica Bell: Hello. I'm Angellica Bell and welcome to Rewirement from Legal & General. The podcast where I'm talking to the experts about how to make later life the best time of life. I'm hearing from inspiring people who are making retirement work for them. Your dreams are as individual as you are, so I'm on a mission to help you make them happen.
This time we're tackling the topic of relationships in later life. For many, age and experience might bring relationship breakdowns and new partnerships. Maybe you've been divorced or bereaved and have found love again? Perhaps you and your new partner have children from your previous relationships? If so, the complexities of navigating extended families can bring plenty of questions.
I'm going to be finding out how you can set yourself up for success if you're bringing a new person into your family. And if you're already happily settled, I'll be joined by psychologist, Jo Hemmings, and Legal & General's Sara MacLeish, to talk about how you can communicate your financial plans effectively with each other and with your families. But first let's hear from Jane.
Jane found love in retirement, 35 years after she and her old flame had first met and gone their separate ways. Jane was living with her third husband in Egypt when she and John reconnected as friends. When that relationship ended, Jane was in a bad place, but her pen pal offered her hope.
Jane: I'd first met him in the City of London. We sort of had a very brief, but very happy relationship, but then we'd split up and lost touch with each other. And I thought about him no end. I thought, " I wonder what he's doing? I wonder where he is? What is happening?" So I got a couple of old pictures and as much detail as I could remember, and I put a blog post up. And four years later, he saw it and sent me an email, and we emailed backwards and forwards 400 emails.
Angellica Bell: Oh, my, goodness. So Jane, when you left Egypt, would you say that you left your financial security behind?
Jane: Yes, totally.
Angellica Bell: I mean, that's quite scary.
Jane: Yes, it is. Unfortunately, my relationship had come to an end and the only way I could get out was with two suitcases and me crochet hooks. That's how I landed on my daughter's doorstep with me two suitcases.
Angellica Bell: And was John in the picture at this point, was he a catalyst?
Jane: No, no.
Angellica Bell: Okay.
Jane: Well, he was a catalyst because I'd had the email. So he sent me a bit of music, Foo Fighters. Is someone getting the Best of You? And I thought, " Wow, nobody's getting the best of me, I've got so much to offer and I'm just dying here."
Angellica Bell: And that takes a lot of courage to walk away from something. Stability-
Jane: Well, I think a lot of ladies have had to do it and it's not easy. It's not easy at all. But once I'd been back in this country a few months, I was so much happier. I can't believe that I can be lucky enough at 66 to find romance again. Actually, it was quite good going back to someone I'd known so many years before when I was sort of young and believed in fairy stories.
Angellica Bell: Well, you're with John now. You've been married before. Were you wary about starting something new?
Jane: Oh, very wary. It started off with just being friends and going for a drink together and stuff like that. But after we reconnected again, it probably wasn't until lockdown that we started getting romantic. We took it very slowly because we wanted to find each other's background and everything. Because it's 35 years, a lot had happened. When I came back to this country, I was connecting with a lot of people that I knew in the 80s. It was just lovely to be able to share all those memories again and have a bit of a laugh about our younger selves.
Angellica Bell: Yeah. So you have that something in common that you can build upon. And so it can be just friends and you're saying, " Who knows, it might turn into something more romantic?" But at the end of the day, it's about building that best friend foundation first?
Jane: Yeah, I think so. I think nearly all relationship should start from a basis of friendship because otherwise what are you going to do when you're having an argument?
Angellica Bell: Was it more financial reasons why you decided to move in together?
Jane: Yeah. Do you know the TV program Golden Girls?
Angellica Bell: Oh yes.
Jane: We thought we would be a bit like Golden Girls, sharing a house together. He can kill spiders and I can sew tapestry cushions. It's just nice to have someone, especially with lockdown, to have somebody in the house to talk to. And one of the things we love doing is on a Monday night it's University Challenge, Mastermind and Only Connect. And we have a little friendly competition about who can get the most answers right.
Angellica Bell: I know there's some people who are very comfortable being single in retirement. And that's fantastic, but like you say, there are some people who need that companionship and want to share their retirement with someone, share those memories. Which is totally understandable.
So what advice would you give to someone who is meeting their new partner's family? Because both you and John have had your own lives, experienced different things, and all of a sudden you're coming together at a time where it's about you. How did they react and how did you navigate that situation?
Jane: My daughter, hadn't been very keen on my previous husband. And so she was quite glad that I had got involved with somebody that she could respect. He's great with her children, my grandchildren. It's really cute to see him sort of cuddling the baby and being all goo goo gaga.
Angellica Bell: And then how do you sort out your finances together?
Jane: Oh, we don't. We don't. We keep them totally separate.
Angellica Bell: And although you and John keep your finances separate, you're with somebody who's got their pension sorted and their finances sorted, so you're both feeling confident for the future?
Jane: Yeah. Being able to split the bills and split the rent and stuff like that means you've got more disposable income. I wish I had ploughed more into my private pension back in the day. I really do. I've got a minuscule private pension, and it would be lovely to have a little bit more.
But I am totally thankful that I paid all my stamps and I've got the full state pension. So that's sort of something that not everybody has, especially females. So I think women should check their national insurance records. You can do it all online. That's what I did.
Angellica Bell: So what about your plan them for the future for care, if you need support on your health, how are you going to deal with that together?
Jane: Well, I think we're taking it one day at a time. You just don't know what's going to happen. I mean, when I first came back in the country, I was 17 and a half stone and diabetic. Now, John knew about reversing your diabetes and gave me advice about that. And I researched it and spoke to my doctor, lost four stone. Now I'm on no insulin, no diabetes medication, nothing.
But who knows what's going to happen? You could suddenly get dementia or something like that. I think you just have to seize the day and live life for this day and have a good time.
Angellica Bell: You give a lot of hope for people who are still looking for love in their latter years, which is lovely.
Jane: You never know what's going to happen. I've constantly been surprised all through my life. And I never would have expected this to happen. Yeah, It's a bit special.
Angellica Bell: It just goes to show that you can't predict the path that life will take. But being open to opportunities and reconnecting with old friends can lead to wonderful things. It can be hard to make big changes when you're settled in life. Jane's bravery has truly paid off and I love her adventurous spirit. She's now considering a PhD with the little extra cash she's saving each month by living with her long, lost love.
Another side to developing new relationships later in life can be the impact this has upon your lifestyle and relationships with others. If you've got children and your own assets, it can feel complicated to broach the subject with your families. And yet there are hundreds of thousands of blended families and step- families in the UK. What's more, even when your children have grown up and left home, you may re- partner after a divorce or the death of a partner.
So what happens when you've both got big families and maybe even grandchildren?
Christine is a psychotherapist who's continuing to work in her retirement. She's just relocated to the coast to be near her children. She's told me how she and her husband navigated marriage with seven children between them.
Christine: I'd been married for 21 years to my first husband. I had five children. At the point where we divorced three of them were in their early 20s. So when I moved, I moved with my two youngest children who are seven and nine.
Angellica Bell: That's quite a big gap, wasn't it?
Christine: Yeah. It was a big gap. I had three and then I had a big gap and then I had two more. So when I moved... Well, I was on my own with my two youngest kids. And then when I remarried, my husband had two children who were also in their early 20s. So similar ages to my other three kids.
So our blended family, if you like, was me and my new husband and my two youngest kids with the others kind of gradually, very gradually visiting and just adjusting to this whole change of situation. I mean it's never easy. What children really want is for their parents to stay together, hopefully. I mean, we understand that really. And it was difficult for them I think, But because they were all in there in their early 20s, they got on like a house on fire after a while.
Angellica Bell: Your family setup changed quite dramatically with the amount of children that you had in the home and stuff. Tell me how you adapted to that and how obviously when you meet someone new, when you've lived your life, how their financial outlook can impact you?
Christine: I suppose, financially, that's an interesting one. Because it took two years for my divorce to go through, quite complicated. I didn't really have any money of my own at that point. Well, I mean a bit, but not much. And I remember I borrowed money off my dad just after we separated.
My husband wasn't in much of a better position than me. He'd been through a divorce and he took nothing from the divorce. And I think at that point there was quite a lot of fun. It was all new. It was new relationship, new circumstances, and there was a lot of really good times. And I think in those kinds of times, I wasn't too financially aware of maybe planning for my future. I was 40, 41 I wasn't really that bothered about that. I paid my pension every month, and I think I just trusted that things would be fine.
Angellica Bell: Was Alex like that? Was he quite laid back about money or have you both had to change and adjust?
Christine: I probably didn't know this at the time we got together. If I had to describe us now, I'd say that I was the one that was more savvy with money and more careful. Alex has, and he still has this attitude a little bit, even though he's 74 now. He has this attitude of, " Oh, it's just money. It's all right." He has a much more laid back attitude than I do. I don't think it caused much conflict. It has at times.
Mainly my frustration. Maybe because I'm a bit jealous because I really wish that I could be like that sometimes. And I was a bit like that before my first divorce, but a difficult divorce and the financial outcomes of that, have changed my view of money. And when there was just me and the two younger kids, I felt that I just had to be very sensible. I changed really.
Angellica Bell: Well with that in mind and you saying that, do you keep your finances separate?
Christine: We do. Yeah, we always have. For me, I think just because of everything that happened through that first divorce, I was a little bit anxious about it and I just needed to know that I was in control of my finances. And so it was like that. And it just didn't change. I'm just more comfortable with it. Having said that, we have discussions about finances. We know what we're going to spend, where the money's going to come from and how are we going to do it. We discuss that, but we still have things separate.
Angellica Bell: And I can see why, because you've both got separate sets of children as well.
Angellica Bell: So you're probably wanting to protect them as well and make sure that they're set up.
Christine: My side of the financial situation is more complex than Alex's. His is quite straightforward. He has his two children. We have this house between us that we live in now. And his ex- wife, she's still alive so she has her own house. So they're inheritance line is quite straightforward. Mine is more complicated. I've got a trust fund from my dad who died 20 years ago.
And the person that my dad lived with, when she dies, then the trust fund will be released between me and her son. Basically it's the house that she lives in. So that's quite complicated. And if I don't get that before I die, then that needs to be passed straight down to my children. So there's all those arrangements.
Angellica Bell: I see where you're coming from. And you want in a way, in such a complex situation, some clarity. And then as a psychotherapist as well, I'm thinking you must have your own insights in to how people behave with money, how people perceive things, inheritance and stuff?
Christine: I can work with clients as a counsellor and psychotherapist. And I can really support people and keep communications going in terms of any subject that they want to bring into the session in a balanced way. But when it comes to your own family and your own children, then a lot of that goes out the window. I have five children who are very different personalities, no shrinking violets with my children. Everything's always been on the table for discussion with my kids.
I've always been like that with them, from when they were very young. That, I think it's a very positive thing. But it can be quite challenging and difficult. If you get five of them together and they're quite, can be quite opinionated then that's not an easy thing to do. I have different relationships with all of them. I would open those conversations at a completely different place with each of them. Which you might would do with clients as you get to know them. So there's that similarity.
Money is a very difficult thing to talk about. What I might be doing with my money or what my views might be in terms of how I'm planning for them, might not be what they think is right. And I know that my kids often, so you don't want to do that, you want to do this. And I have to say, " Well, actually I don't want to do that. I know what I want to do." And it's quite hard that. And the more kids you got, I think the harder it gets. You've got to make the space for all those different conversations.
Angellica Bell: Well, at least you're aware of it and you've got a plan. But what advice would you give to anyone who is looking ahead to retirement, but wants to make sure they've communicated with their partner and families about their wishes and plans?
Christine: To keep lines of communication open. In terms of the earlier you're thinking about things, if it feels right, then to say something. Whatever it might be to just open those lines of communication. The hardest thing in the world I think, is to go and talk to somebody about a really difficult subject, but not have the smaller conversations beforehand, the more generalized conversations and it comes out the blue.
And I mean, I think that is actually probably good advice for a lot of difficult situations. If you're planning it and people start to know what you're planning as you go forward it's an extension of that conversation rather than just another thing plucked out of ether and coming as a shock.
And I guess the other thing is that's really important is to listen because whatever I'm planning affects all my children. And although I'm quite secure in my sense of doing what I think is right, and quite committed to that, they still have an opinion. All your family have an opinion. And I think it's really important to listen to it. And even if you don't agree with it, to kind of acknowledge it and validate it because people are coming from different places.
Angellica Bell: Wise, wise words from Christine. It sounds like she's communicating and having those essential conversations with her children, but it's not always easy to talk about money. Everyone has a different situation and individual concerns. It's important to communicate with your partner about your financial situation in later life, but also vital to make sure everyone who might be affected by the change is on the same page.
So how do you do that sensitively?
I'm joined by psychologist, Jo Hemmings and Legal & General's Sara MacLeish to find out. Well, talking about love and relationships in retirement fills my heart with joy. Jo, let's start by talking about who can be affected if you find love in later life.
Jo Hemmings: Yeah. It can be difficult. I think sometimes your friends or close family, they're not aware that you're even looking for love. I think that's one of the issues. So when you find somebody that comes as a real shock, because they thought you were perfectly settled and happy as you were.
Then when you meet someone who's significant, I think if you're dating a bit, which you can do when you get older, but haven't found anybody of major importance, you don't need to do anything about it at this point. But when you find someone who does feel like they'll have some significance in your life, then I think definitely introduce them in that way. I mean, be honest about it. I do know, I have heard of people saying, " Oh, this is my friend." That's all right when you've got little kids, but I mean, most older members of your family will probably recognize that they're probably not quite just a friend.
Angellica Bell: Well, how would you introduce a new person or people into your family?
Jo Hemmings: I think I'd tell them. " I met someone. I've met someone who I feel I really connect with, get on well with. We've been out going out for a while. We've got a lot in common. He makes me feel good about myself." Just those kinds of explaining. You don't have to justify yourself, but you do I think to an extent, I have to explain the importance of it, why it matters to you and how you feel about it. And just be very upfront rather than trying to dress it up as something isn't because has every chance of getting yourself into sort of tangles that are quite hard to get out of.
Angellica Bell: No. Exactly. And I suppose as well, when people are older, they've got maybe older children, people who've known them their whole lives and then to bring somebody else in can be unsettling for other people. So maybe just being honest and straight is the best thing.
Jo Hemmings: I think so, and I think do it gently if you need to. Maybe do it out of the home. So you have a meal out somewhere. You just want it to be as relaxed an experience as you can. And obviously you want them to like them, but try and let it be natural rather than talking for them. I think that's what some people do.
Angellica Bell: Well, Sara, in terms of the financial side, divorces can have an impact on your situation in later life. What's your advice for revisiting retirement finances after a divorce?
Sara MacLeish: Yeah, well, I mean, as we've heard from both Christine and Jane, divorce and separation is a really very costly and complicated process and it's very rare that people come out of a divorce or a separation better off. In fact, most come away facing retirement with far less income to live off.
Especially women who typically have significantly lower pension provision than men. We also know that this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in middle- age and later life. So the statistics are showing us now that one in four divorces takes place over the age of 50 in the UK today. I mean the critical thing here, Angellica, is to get advice and to understand where you stand in these matters. We conducted some research recently at Legal & General and were staggered to see that only 3% of people going through a divorce take financial advice, only 3%.
Angellica Bell: No, only 3%?
Sara MacLeish: Yeah. Now, if you can afford financial advice, if you can access a financial advisor, then obviously that's going to be incredibly valuable in making sure that you've received expert advice, professional advice, and that it's tailored to your circumstances. But if that option is not available to you, then I still would advise people to make sure that they're looking for those online resources, those telephone resources that are free of charge to everyone. Things like PensionWise can be really, really powerful in helping you understand your retirement options.
Angellica Bell: Well, like you said, Christine has a plan for how she'd like her children to inherit her money and is already having those sort of conversations, very upfront, open, and I think that's really refreshing. But what matters should you get clear on before sharing that information?
Sara MacLeish: Think as Christine says, having those small conversations early is fantastic advice rather than having a big conversation and potentially a quite a traumatic conversation forced upon you by events. Things to get clear on beforehand, make sure that you have a will, a decent will written.
And also one thing people often forget, make sure that it's stored somewhere securely so that it does still form a reliable legal document when the time comes. Also, make sure that you've nominated executors to that will and make them aware that you've nominated them as such. Ideally your executors should be somebody who knows you well, understand your wishes, but also has say has some degree of independence, even if that's just mental and philosophical independence from your family so that they can manage some of the more sensitive topics.
And obviously in blended families, like Christine's, a will becomes even more important because there are just so many different scenarios that could play out in that kind of family situation.
I'd also say it's really important to think carefully about gifting. So good inheritance planning isn't just about what you leave behind. For a lot of people it can make far more sense from a tax perspective, if nothing else to give money while you're still alive. So make sure that you understand the options there.
Lots and lots of our customers prefer watching their loved ones benefit from what we call a living inheritance. And these early inheritances can also mean that the children and the benefactors receive their gift at points in their life when they need it the most and benefit from it the most. For example, when they're trying to get onto the property ladder. So again, financial advice can be really helpful for those that can access and afford it, but do have a look at those early inheritances.
Angellica Bell: Some really good advice there, Sara. Jo, I want to come back to you, in both our stories we heard how people are choosing to keep their finances separate when meeting later in life. But every couple will have their own approach. Why is communication over such things so important, especially when discussing matters with children or people who are set to inherit things like what, what Christine has done?
Jo Hemmings: I think as Sara says, one is a notoriously difficult subject to raise. What can happen if you don't raise it is that children particularly may resent your partner, may feel that they're a gold digger or just be suspicious in some way.
I think being honest with your own children and being honest with your partner is very important. And the truth is when you're younger and you do perhaps have a joint bank account you're looking towards your future, you're looking to having children, to perhaps buying your first home together, whatever it may be.
That necessity isn't really there. And not that I think it's necessarily something you should be doing when you're young, but you definitely don't need to be doing it as you get older. And it shouldn't be a taboo subject. And I think the other thing is you know somebody. So when you're in a couple, you pick up quite quickly on their attitude to money.
So are you dating or having a relationship with a spender or a saver? What are they like when you're going out for dinner, how they look at the menu, what they do when the bill arrives? So you get a sense of the kind of person they are.
They might be quite different from you, but you're old and wise enough to be able to have that conversation say, " Listen, we have two different approaches. Mine is very much the saving.
I want to keep financially independent." I mean, just have it. It's just a good conversation to have because you cannot guarantee you're going to be with someone who thinks the same way as you. And also say to your children, " Look just because I've fallen in love. And I'm very, very happy. It's not going to affect your inheritance in any way." Reassure them that you know this person well enough.
Angellica Bell: Okay. Well, Sara, there are different laws, as we know for couples who are married and co- habiting, how can this affect your living situation if a partner dies?
Sara MacLeish: Yeah, so the laws are different if you're married rather than co- habiting. So it's really important to make sure you've considered this and how it could affect your home. The situation can be even more complicated if you have children on both sides who are benefactors from their parent's estate. So questions to ask yourself, " If you are sharing a home, will there be enough money to cover the cost of that home if one of you passes away? And also if you own that home together, how will the estate be shared out in the event of one of your deaths?"
Angellica Bell: And what if you or your partner needs extra care in later life? What can be done then?
Sara MacLeish: Well, yeah, I mean, on the theme of difficult conversations, this is probably the hardest one of all, discussing your wishes for your care and your money if you get to the point where you're unable to make those decisions for yourself. So really, really important to be thinking about nominating a Lasting Power of Attorney and making sure that Lasting Power of Attorney understands what your wishes are when the time comes.
Angellica Bell: Okay. And Jo, one final question, and it's an important one. If anyone has been inspired to look for love as a result of hearing Jane's story, what advice would you give them to help them make sure it's a great experience?
Jo Hemmings: Yeah, it's an interesting one with Jane isn't it? Because I guess she probably wasn't really looking for love, she sort of found it. And that's in an opportunistic way or it just happened to her. So there are people that have prepared for it, that know that they're out there looking for somebody. And then there are people who just come across it and it changes their life. Again, don't get swept away by...
And it can feel like that. Emotionally you can feel so in love and so happy and so good for perhaps the first time in a very long time that we forget all the practical issues that are there.
So I think remind yourself, there are things to be sorted, just get all your ducks in a row financially so that you can relax. Once it's done, it's done. And then you can have this great romance late in life and it's brilliant. But just get the underpinning, whether that's relationships with people in either the blended families or financial, get those to a good place so that you feel secure. It's a good anchor from which to set off on your love journey or however you want to describe it.
Angellica Bell: Well, thank you both for your advice, Jo, Sara, been brilliant. Thank you.
It sounds like communication is the name of the game. If you're bringing someone new and special into your life later on. Whether you're introducing them to your children and grandchildren or just making sure you're on the same page about each other's financial decisions, talking about it is the first step to harmony.
What's more, if you have a blended family, it's fair to make sure everyone is listened to and communicated with sensitively when you're sharing your financial decisions for inheritance. You can find out more about retirement planning as well as links to those websites we've mentioned @ legalandgeneral. com/ retirement. In our final episode for the series, I'll be hearing from amazing individuals who are finding ways to balance care needs with happy and independent lives in later life.
Speaker 6: Being a sole carer, I appreciate more than ever the need to prepare for retirement for your older years.
Angellica Bell: I'm Angellica Bell, follow Rewirement on your favourite platform and I'll catch you next time.
Love in retirement looks very different today. With new relationships often come complex new living arrangements and extended families. Even if age does bring experience, it doesn’t make the emotions of new and changing relationships any less exciting – or delicate! Lifestyle, loves and life partners can all have an impact on your retirement finances and the inheritance you might want to leave behind.
In this episode of Rewirement, Angellica talks to retirees about how they’ve navigated changes in their relationships in later life.
We meet Jane, who rekindled a connection with an old flame four decades after they first met. And Christine chats to us about how she and her second husband blended their families together, with seven children between them!
Angellica is also joined by author and psychologist Jo Hemmings, who shares her expert tips on how to navigate love in later life, and Sara McLeish, CEO of Financial Advice at Legal & General, who talks about how to approach difficult conversations about money. Whether you’re looking for love or need some suggestions for how to plan your financial future together, this episode is full of practical ideas and inspiration.
CEO of Financial Advice at Legal & General
Sara joined Legal & General in 2018. She leads the Financial Advice business, and is passionate about the role that advice can play in helping individuals achieve their best possible retirement.
Author and Behavioural Psychologist
Jo is the UK’s best-known and respected celebrity psychologist. Regularly appearing on Good Morning Britain, as well as many other TV shows, she is the author of five successful books on psychology and relationships.