Couples coping with the transition to retirement: interpersonal emotion regulation and wellbeing in daily life


  • A.B. Horn
  • S. Holzgang
  • V. Rosenberger


Background: Adjusting to retirement is one of the most important and often challenging transitions in late adulthood; it is often accompanied with mental health consequences. Even though most research focusses on the retired individual, a dyadic perspective on co-regulation also in life transitions seems plausible. The aim of the current study is to investigate the role of interpersonal emotion regulation and wellbeing in daily life in couples with at least one recently retired partner. Method: In this ongoing online-couple study, so far N= 36 couples reported during 14 days sleep quality, wellbeing und relationship quality in the morning and evening. In the evening report, additionally interpersonal emotion regulation strategies were assessed. Multilevel Actor Partner Interdependence Analyses were conducted. Results: Multilevel Analyses reveal significant variability of retirement related adjustment disorder symptoms within retirees over two weeks. Adjustment problems correlated significantly between partners. On days in which the retiree engaged in adaptive interpersonal emotion regulation with the partner, wellbeing increased and adjustment disorder symptoms decreased; the mirrored results could be observed with maladaptive interpersonal emotion regulation like co-brooding. Discussion: Results indicate that the transition to retirement can be a risk situation for mental health not only for the retiree but also for the romantic partner. Furthermore, emotional co-regulation strategies are associated with changes in daily wellbeing and mental health. A dyadic perspective on health in life transitions seems promising, particularly when it comes to challenged emotion regulation during the adjustment to changes in everyday life.