My Marriage Is Middle-Aged, And I've Never Been Happier

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
Partners in a middle-aged marriage, smiling while sitting hugged on the couch inside their home.
MoMo Productions/Getty

I am middle-aged. That sounds so daunting, doesn’t it? I mean, middle-aged people are wrinkly and old and listen to only talk radio and drive sensible cars. Right? They aren’t like me. I am still young and spry (I think). Yet, I have developed a few of those middle-agey things.

I listen to “90s on 9″ and have become a little out of touch with the top 40. I have fallen into the world of eye cream and serums. I also only wear sensible nightgowns. And while I have settled into my middle-aged ways, so has my marriage.

But to tell you the truth, I have never been happier.

I am 42 and my husband is 48. We have four children, a mortgage, a minivan, and IRA accounts. We look forward to watching Dateline and are perfectly content with reruns on Netflix. He and I are not looking for anything exciting. The highlight of my 2021 Christmas season was finding the last inflatable nutcracker in the store and high-fiving him as if we had just guessed correctly on The Price Is Right. It was a big day.

I really love my husband as he is closing in on 50. He has very few expectations of me. Truly. He loves me just the way I am.

When we first started dating, almost 20 years ago, I had a big chest, a tiny waist, and wore heels that made me look like a model. That body and wardrobe have been swapped out for a C-section scar and yoga pants that see no yoga. I also wear custom orthotics for my plantar fasciitis. Doesn’t that sound hot?

He doesn’t care. He has bought me things like a T-shirt that says, “This Is My Christmas Movie Watching Shirt.” Not because it was sexy, but because it was oversized and comfortable and he thought it would be a nice addition to my holiday wardrobe.

Please don’t misunderstand — we still have date nights when I get all dolled up. I haven’t phoned it in completely. I am just at ease with who I am right now. And that person is someone taking care of a home and a family. I am not a sales executive trying to close a deal. And that is quite OK with me … and him.

Our middle aged marriage is not ho-hum; it is comfortable. We have a menu of meals that sort of rotate in and out. I’m not trying to come up with culinary masterpieces like I did when it was just the two of us. Our kids like buttered noodles and Shake ‘N Bake, and he doesn’t complain. Maybe it’s just a dad thing, because my father is the same way, but he will eat basically anything that I put in front of him. What is his favorite thing? When I make him a sandwich. He swears that I make sandwiches better than anyone in the world.

There is nothing fancy, but I really think he just likes it because I do it for him. If he asks, I do. Because I know that it makes him happy. Those kinds of things are what make our marriage work.

Is it all perfection? Absolutely not! We argue; everybody does. But here is the difference when you are middle-aged — you realize that it’s just not that important. Sure, you want to be right, but do you want to drag it out for days?

The longer we have been married, the more that we see the value in agreeing to disagree. (Although he should really know that he is mostly wrong). Our fights often end with me telling him that I hate him and he will laugh and that’s the end.

I may no longer be that girl in heels with legs for days; I am a new woman, and he has been with me all the way. He was in the room with me when I received that C-section scar and he helped me to take a shower when I could hardly stand after surgery. For him, I ran to the hospital after he was in an accident and prayed to God that he was safe. Together we have done dishes when the dishwasher broke and tended to crabby babies with fevers. We have loved one another through really tough times, but we have never given up on each other.

But what I love most about middle aged marriage is that when we think about the future, it really is about the two of us together for the long haul. We have gotten through those tough years with babies and toddlers. The days of jumping from one job to the other and wondering how it was going to work out are over. We have both settled into careers that we love and we support each other wholeheartedly, no matter where our paths lead. We will soon have a child in high school, and we know how quickly it goes, so we are slowing down to enjoy every moment until our nest is empty.

And one day when it is, I think we will still be happy to be together. I hope so.

On my way to old age, and I pray each day that I am blessed to get there, I am going to continue to revel in the mundane moments of my middle aged marriage. When he asks for a sandwich, I am going to stop what I am doing to make one for him. The days that he comes home with flowers, I will gratefully greet him with a kiss and a thank you because I know that for a brief moment that day, he was thinking only of me. I will make the bed with fresh sheets just before he comes to bed so he can breathe in the smell of Tide that he loves so much.

And I will continue to quote the prophetic words of Huey Lewis and The News: “Yes, it’s true. I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

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