When I was a little girl, the only thing I knew for sure I wanted was to be a wife and a mother. I imagined my future self not just married, but comfortably married. Even as a teenager, I daydreamed more about being in love than falling in love. I always wanted to get the dating, engagement and wedding over with and get to the good part. For me, the steady rhythm of a comfortable life with a good person was the fairy tale. I was counting down the days until I could be half of an old married couple.
As fate would have it, I didn’t have to wait very long for my Prince Charming. My now-husband picked me up for our first date in a 1979 Dodge Diplomat with no muffler. The car was 24 years old, but the boy was only 17. Despite the leather seats and the sticky heat of that southern summer night, we sat in his car in my driveway talking about everything and nothing. This quiet kid who rarely said two words to anyone else never ran out of things to say to me. We lingered until my parents flashed the porch light, signaling for me to come inside. Scott didn’t have the courage to kiss me that night, but a few days later, he worked up the nerve. It was my very first kiss and my last first kiss all at once.
We have never looked back.
Sixteen years later, we are an old married couple in every way. We fought hard to get here, and we made it. We earned this peaceful comfort. Things are familiar and routine around here, and I have to tell you, my younger daydreaming self was onto something. Because this old married couple life is everything I hoped it would be.
Being an old married couple doesn’t suck. At all.
As a matter of fact, it’s everything. It’s totally worth the work it took to get here.
The simplest parts of life take on a special kind of beauty when they’re accompanied by a feeling of total security.
I love the easy way my husband and I can get ready in the same tiny bathroom without being in each other’s way. We step around each other like a dance, passing the toothpaste and handing one other towels, no longer annoyed by the way the shower steams up the mirror.
I love that loving each other is second nature now. I know all I have to do is volunteer to drive while we run errands, and he will go anywhere I ask. He knows that if the house is a mess when he gets home, he shouldn’t even ask about my day — he will just run me a bath. I could order for him at any restaurant, and he could do the same for me.
Our daily life runs smoothly because we have refined the process by which we assign responsibilities. We only do the things we are naturally good at, and we split the tasks nobody wants. I keep our family’s shared calendar organized because I’m better at it. He does all the outdoor work because of my intense fear of spiders and my aversion to being even a little bit too hot. We budget together, but he actually pays the bills. I clean all the bathrooms, and he does all the floors. It’s been this way for so long that we barely expend any energy on keeping the day-to-day stuff running around here. We’ve had it all worked out for years.
Believe it or not, one of the best things about old married couple status is the sex. Sure, sex before kids was great. We were in our 20s, full of energy, and life was a lot less complicated.
But it’s better now. WAY BETTER. After all these years, my husband can raise one eyebrow at me in the middle of a chaotic family dinner, and I will know just what he is thinking. If I raise a sneaky eyebrow back (and I almost always do), he knows that means, “You get the kids in bed. I’ll do the dishes.”
With the kids safely in their beds and the house tidied, we can close the door behind us and let the fact that we are parents melt away. Maybe we are a little more…efficient than we once were, but my husband says that’s just a sign that we are a well-oiled machine. I don’t feel a hint of self-consciousness, insecurity or worry when we make love. It’s physically satisfying and intimate in a way that the more adventurous sex of our youth just wasn’t.
My favorite part of being an old married couple is that we are a source of wisdom for new couples. They often ask us how we have made our teenage romance last all this time, and we are happy to explain how hard we have fought for each other. We love to share our stories and insight with them, and they love to share the excitement of their new relationships with us.
When they leave, we shut the door behind them, smile at each other, and breathe a sigh of relief. Let them have the fancy first dates, the excitement of first kisses, the frequent weekends away, and the anticipation of finding out whether this one is The One. They deserve a life that thrills them. There are a million roads to happiness, and I hope everyone I know is on one of them.
But this comfortable, familiar loved-you-all-my-life, know-you-like-the-back-of-my-hand kind of love?
This is the love for us.