My husband Harvey and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary. And they said it wouldn’t last. We’ve been together nearly 14 years, but married for only ten. I was a mature bride of 53 when we tied the knot, and Harvey was 60. It was my first, and hopefully only, rodeo (you see that cowboy theme I’ve got going?), and Harvey’s third, and final (that’s in the fine print). I’ll never forget the romantic words he spoke on the day of our wedding. Holding a glass of single malt Scotch and looking into my eyes lovingly, he said: “I gotta tell you. This is my favourite wedding so far!” That set the tone for our marriage to date.
What I’ve learned over the course of our life together is this:
Marriage is not so much a journey as it is an amusement park for adults. It is filled with roller coasters and candy floss and games of skill, and games of brawn. It’s full of lightning fast rides through the water that have you gasping with delight; and slow-moving rides through dark tunnels that have you wondering if you’ll make it out alive. But mostly it’s laughter (and some tears), companionship, intimacy, friendship, and at its core, love. It’s about choosing your partner every single day, no matter whether they’re the perfect spouse that day, or they’re so irritating you want to scream. What I’ve also learned is that here is much more to learn. Every single day.
No one prepared me for married life. Not my parents. Not my friends. Standing on the sidelines watching others start their lives with that special someone, and have kids and build families was instructive, but only minimally. I know now that each individual in a marriage, as well as each couple, face their own expectations, fears, desires and challenges. And I am certain that the older we are when we marry, the more challenging it can be. Especially for someone like me, who was getting married for the first time.
Having always prided myself on being fiercely independence and self-reliant, it wasn’t easy at first letting Harvey into my ordered little world. Luckily, he came well-trained and understood that he had better give me lots of space if this marriage was going to work. He wholeheartedly understood that I came to our marriage fully operational: I had a great job; a solid group of friends with whom I socialized regularly; I could cook (but chose not to); I had my entrenched eating routines; a certain laundry day; and, well…I was pretty set in my ways. Harvey had married a human turnkey operation. But was I fully operational in marriage? Hell no!
Turns out, I fretted over nothing.
Harvey instinctively knew to give me all the space and time I needed to do my own thing, see my friends, and hog the closet. And lucky for me, he’s fluent in Shelley (as I am in Harvey). Right from the get-go I knew we were a match: we complemented each other’s weird sense of humor, we both love meat, and we would never willingly go camping. We are urban creatures who enjoy the good life. Most importantly, we get each other.
So, let me encourage all you older single women to never give up hope of meeting a loving partner later in life. As relationship coaches will often tell you, the best place to meet someone is where you might share common interests. For example, at your place of worship, as part of a sports group, attending some classes, or volunteering. All it takes is one person.
Just don’t try too hard.