For Mark Roberts’ Use: We’re often told that communication is key in any relationship, and that we must talk about our expectations when it comes to chores, major purchases, and other issues. After all, your partner can’t read your mind. However, one thing many couples are not discussing, with regard to their future together, is retirement! Somehow many of us are just assuming that our spouse shares our vision for retirement, and unfortunately that can lead to disappointment and conflict when the time finally arrives.

Fidelity Investments recently conducted a study* which found that more than one in three couples have serious disagreements over how to spend their retirement years. In fact, 38 percent of the couples surveyed by the study displayed widely disparate views from one another. Chances are, quite a few people reading this article are in a similar situation, and many don’t even know it.

The Fidelity study found that one of the biggest points of disagreement centered on where couples planned to spend their retirement years. Location is an extremely critical decision, because it will affect living expenses and lifestyle. Yet, 36 percent of the couples surveyed said that they had yet to come to an agreement on where to live during retirement. Some couples had simply not thought about the issue, while others were engaged in an active disagreement about the future.

Another common source of retirement planning angst comes from the decision-making process. Only 43 percent of the couples surveyed reported that they do indeed make joint financial decisions regarding retirement. About 30 percent of the couples disagreed on the designated beneficiaries of their estates.

While some couples are aware of this conflict of ideals, many are completely unaware that their partner has a different vision of the future. Couples should begin talking about important issues like location, beneficiaries, and financial decisions early on in marriage, in order to prevent unpleasant surprises and resentments later in life. Like all things in marriage, these decisions will require some compromise, but retirement is a dream you should build together.