There’s a Confucian proverb that says, “A man should be established by 30, discerning by 40, have identity and true understanding of himself by 50, and be amicable by 60.” So is it really true that when a man reaches the retirement phase at 60 years old, he will be mature enough to see life clearly and be free and unfettered? Is 60 a man’s second golden age, or just the beginning of aging and deterioration? Is retirement a man’s curse or blessing? It all depends on a person’s state of mind, experience and faith.
Mr. Leung is 63 years old and married with a grown daughter. Before retirement, he taught at a college for 20 years. When I asked him about his initial feelings toward retirement when he turned 60 three years ago, his answer–“Great!”–surprised me. Here’s the conversation we exchanged.
Why is it great? “Because at last I have time to do things that I was not able to do before.”
Like what? “Like simply serving the Lord! I used to be so busy that I did not have time to read the Bible. Now I can dig deeper and learn a lot.”
At first I assumed that Mr. Leung hadn’t experienced any adjustment pains that commonly affect men upon retiring. However, when we talked about it more, I realized that in the beginning he was actually challenged by his then-new season of life.
“The hardest part was learning to work harmoniously with my wife. Before, she was fully in charge of everything at home, so when I tried to help out, we had conflicts because of different expectations about handling things. Also, there were times when she complained that I was wasting my time doing nothing, and that hurt. I realized that since I retired, we spent time together almost 24/7. So as personal space decreased, the fights consequently increased.”
Mr. Leung explained that communication was crucial to resolve the issue of getting along with each other.
“When we talked and learned how to accommodate each other, things got better. Now my wife is used to having me at home and I am used to listening to her nagging.” He smiled.
Besides the adjustment to reconnecting with his spouse, Mr. Leung felt that another big challenge was his deteriorating health. After retirement, he found out that he had kidney stones. Though he has been doing fine since having surgery, he does have to be careful with his diet and cannot eat as freely as before.
“In the beginning, I had a hard time accepting my deteriorating health and experienced some ups and downs emotionally. The diet limitations just made things worse.”
How did you cope with this? “The best way is to learn how to let go and accept. When I accept the unavoidable changes to my body, emotionally I do better too.”
However, this is not always easy. In addition to the encouragement of his wife, Mr. Leung’s faith also played an important role in helping him reach a point of acceptance.
“My wife encouraged me to attend the men’s Bible Study Fellowship class. At the fellowship, not only do I study God’s Word, but I also have a group of brothers who care for and look out for one another with encouraging words. Their walks with the Lord always inspire me and enrich my life. I have to thank God for allowing my life after retirement to be more exciting, meaningful and purposeful!”
Mr. Leung seizes opportunities to speak from his experience, encouraging all the men who are considering retirement to prepare for the unavoidable emotional and physiological adjustments, as well as the way family interactions may change. He believes that if a man can face reality with a positive attitude and maintain or even enlarge his social circle, retirement is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in life!
In the past, people said that a man bloomed at 40. Thanks to modern advancements, nowadays a man can still bloom at 60 and live an exciting life. Retirement gives men a boost and renewed energy! We hope the story of Mr. Leung encourages you if you are planning for retirement.
By: Monica Chan