Workers in a household with a retired spouse were more likely to retire as compared to those in a household with a working spouse or those living alone. While retiring together may seem natural, it also holds the potential to cause financial problems, Yao said.

"It makes sense that many married couples would want to retire around the same time," Yao said. "However, if both spouses decide to retire close to the end of an up market, the household would have little to no cushion should their retirement portfolios be affected by an economic downturn."

So while it may seem attractive to retire at the same time as a spouse, if one partner is still inclined to work at least part-time, it may be a barrier against a downturn eroding the couple's entire savings.