Retirement – Days of Joy or Woe?

By on January 28, 2015
retirement - days of joy or woe

By Deborah McCarragher –

The countdown has begun… “Only 183 more days to go!” my husband said to me the year he was retired from his long government career.  That was in the summer of 2008. He literally had an electronic “countdown gadget” on his desk and it drove everyone in the office crazy. Retirement was just around the corner – and he couldn’t wait!

Proverbs 20:29 says, “…the splendor of old men is their gray head.”

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He had talked about when to retire for a couple of years. He had worked over 35 years in with the US Government and about 25 years with the US Naval Reserves. Now he was officially ready to put on the “I’m Retired and Loving It” hat. Yes – he had worked long and hard and now he was ready to reap the rewards of retirement.

But I was secretly dreading what was coming. Why?

I admit it. I liked having my private devotional time to meet with the Lord. I liked having my coffee and watching the morning news uninterrupted before jumping into the rest of my day. I was accustomed to the quiet and peacefulness in our home while everyone else was gone. Okay – I was selfish!

This is a lighthearted look at what we have encountered in the last two years since he retired:

A Man’s Castle

Every king needs a place of rest, solitude and retreat from the world’s demands. Being retired has given my husband more time in his castle. That has caused me to re-inspect the castle’s overall appearance and appeal. First, I wanted to deal with that dungeon of “same old, same old”. We were entering a new phase of our life as empty-nesters, and we needed to connect again on a personal level. Next, I needed to make sure the rooms were light and airy – not stuffy and dark. That makes for better energy levels and a happy countenance. The moat surrounding our castle needed to keep away unwanted visitors, predators and opposing forces. Finally, the castle required regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. God spoke to my heart about the need to prioritize, and prefer my husband.   

Ecclesiastes 12:6 says, “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

Aches, Pains and Doctor Visits

My husband started off his retirement with a total knee replacement. Ouch! The surgery went well, but afterward there were minor issues. While on our first vacation since retirement, he was still having problems months after the operation. Then it was a back issue and more doctor visits. A kidney stone followed that, and this year he had cataract surgery on both eyes. Wow – everything at once! I know all of these medical procedures have left him feeling somewhat depressed – but I keep telling him he’s getting better! He’s like that bionic man – getting parts replaced one by one! God has had me praying for his physical well-being while praying for his spiritual health.

Psalm 92:13-14 declares, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.”

Home Improvements – Here We Come!

All I heard about during his last year of work was, “We’re going to clean out that garage so we can get both cars inside when I’m retired!” There is a lengthy “honey do list” of little projects that got pushed back while he was still working full-time. I have always enjoyed helping out in the yard, so the thought of jumping onto the John Deere was fun for me. I’ve helped lay down sod, cleaned out the gutters, helped string up Christmas lights, pruned and fertilized shrubs and trees, helped change the oil in our cars, etc. When I readily offer to help – that’s one of those “love languages” that men enjoy hearing.

Colossians 3:23 states, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and no to men…”

 Let’s Go on a “Man Date”

This is probably one of the most important areas we struggle with when our husbands retire. We have to be spiritually and emotionally sensitive to their needs – and that includes “going and doing”. They often want us to accompany them on that quick trip to Home Depot or Lowes, stroll around Wal-Mart, or just take a drive to Costco to see what’s new. Mine likes to “window shop” at Best Buy or take a ride to the Outlet Mall. They want to spend time with us – just being with us, and doing nothing in particular. I’ve learned that if I say “no” and not show any interest, he gets his feelings hurt. God has given me spiritual discernment in order to listen and respond in a God honoring way to his requests. I have learned to show interest and a willingness to go with him – all in hopes of cementing our relationship for years to come. I might not really want to go – but I recognize it’s his way of showing me he wants to spend time with me.

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

What Hobbies and Interests?

My husband is not a sports junkie. He doesn’t golf or play tennis. He doesn’t go to car shows every weekend or go fishing regularly. He just likes to be home – with me. While I find that flattering, I really need some “alone time” for myself. However, I do enjoy watching college football and Nascar. We have enjoyed going on a few trips since retirement. He loves to get on his laptop and search for cruises to far off destinations. However, my husband is not connected with a group of men in any way socially. God is challenging me to help him discover a new hobby or interest, without pestering him or badgering him about it. One project I believe he might enjoy being involved with locally as a Navy veteran is the Wounded Warrior Project. Another might be Habitat For Humanity, and an opportunity to use his home improvement skills. Whatever I do – I can’t push him into anything. God has to place a desire on his heart to get serious about donating his time and talent to benefit others.

Job 12:12 declares, “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.”

Grandpa and Nail Polish

When our granddaughter was born two years ago, we were elated. We were at the hospital on that memorable day and my husband was so proud. That little girl would turn his world upside down! Our son and family live several hours away in another state, but when we get together – she is a beacon of joy to us all. One day I found a cute used Little Tikes vanity table and bench with all the accessories at my neighbor’s garage sale. Our granddaughter just loved it. One of the things she likes to do (since her mommy paints hers) is to come and pretend to paint our nails. Grandpa has been a willing participant for awhile now. He patiently lets her “paint” his finger nails and toe nails with her little plastic bottle of nail polish, and then she gently “blows” on them. It’s so funny to watch. It is all my husband can do to keep from laughing out loud. She takes her task so seriously!

Proverbs 17:6 states, “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.”

God was showing me that it wasn’t about my agenda, but about His. I desperately needed an attitude adjustment. My priorities needed to change and my schedule needed to be more flexible. I’ve heard a saying that sums it up rather well: “People take precedence over plans.” I try to put that into practice now that we’re together day after day. Do I do everything right all the time? Nope – but I ask God to make me more sensitive to his needs and how we can “mesh” our lives together in order to glorify Him.

As a helpmeet, I need to do what I can to bolster his self-confidence, honor his hard work and devotion, and praise his commitment to “us”. I bring glory to God when I willingly turn my life over to Him to direct as He pleases. My spiritual ears need to be unstopped, my spiritual eyes need be opened, and my heart needs to be tendered as we continue to journey through the golden years of retirement.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:10)

Share with me some of your Retirement Moments or best Retirement Advice.


Deborah began her journey of creative writing soon after coming to know Jesus Christ as her personal Savior in 1989. She uses her spiritual gifts of encouragement and teaching in her home church. Deborah is the author of a Christian non-fiction book for women titled “Mission Possible”. She and her husband have one married son serving in the US Military, and they reside in north Florida.

About Deborah McCarragher

Deborah is the author of a Christian non-fiction book titled “Mission Possible”. It is written for women who love the Lord Jesus, but their spouse doesn’t share their passion. Deborah is also a devotional contributor to the e-magazine "Ruby for Women as well as for "An Encouraging Word" print magazine, which is published by Wisdom's Gate. You can visit her blog at:

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Retirement – Days of Joy or Woe?