In Praise of the Middle-Aged Marriage

Yesterday was our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary, and the ways in which The Husband and I spent the day are illustrative of what it means to be at this stage of our lives together.
We are together while we are apart. The Husband was at work, doing what he does to help keep the country safe and his government colleagues accountable for the ways in which they spend their time and our money doing that. I was at home and abroad – doing laundry, cooking a meal, working in the yard, cleaning, and running a long errand to pick up a letter of recommendation and get a form signed for our youngest, who is enrolling in a local community college to take dual credit courses for his upcoming high school senior year. I did some writing, and I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped. I imagine The Husband didn’t get as much accomplished as he’d hoped to either – there is always more we could do. In all of our separate work, we are thinking of each other and working for each other on projects that the other supports.
But when we are together, it is sweet. We are less passionate than we used to be, which is not the death knell it sounds like. (I am not talking about physical intimacy, which we find gets better and better, not that it’s any of your business.) I mean that when we are together, we are less likely to be all my-way-is-the-best-way, or I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong, or I-can’t-believe-you-think-that. There is an agreeableness that permeates our interactions here in our forties that was less common in our twenties. It is a relief and a pleasure to be with someone who seeks my opinion, and listens to it, and considers it, and seeks more information if he doesn’t understand where I am coming from at first. It is a great comfort to feel assured that even if we don’t agree, neither of us sees it as hopeless. We know we will both think more and look at it from the other’s point of view and continue think of the other as a person of goodwill and we will be fine.

We don’t require a fancy celebration. Yesterday’s anniversary wasn’t one of the “big number” dates, and it wasn’t a big day either. The Husband came home with two dozen roses, an extravagance tempered by the fact that he bought them at a metro stop in the Big City. He knows me well enough to know I am more pleased by a bargain gift than mere expenditure. I know him well enough to be able to remark, as we trimmed and arranged them together, that they won’t last long in the vase because they aren’t prime quality but we will enjoy their beauty as long as they have it. I picked up a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing because I know The Husband well enough to know his favorite flavors. He knows I would have baked something myself if I’d have had time and energy for it, but I did not. We both know each other well enough to know our anniversary would have been fine without these tokens, but we are able to afford them now and know they are fun for the other. We both know each other well enough to know that the best part of the day wasn’t the cake or the flowers – it was the quiet talk we had on our front porch through the sunset, through the gloaming, and into the fireflies.
There is a feeling that we are on the cusp of new things. Our hands-on parenting days are coming to an end, that stage of family life that gets the most attention but does not, in fact, make up the whole of marriage by a long shot. God willing, we have more years together to work together, to serve, to learn, to experience what is good and bad in this world, and to love. What that will look like is what we are figuring out day by day and makes being one-half of this middle-aged marriage exactly where I want to be.

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  1. Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary! Didn’t realize until today that we are a day apart. Ok, a day apart and some years. 🙂 Love to hear of the blessings of your marriage. It is a sweet thing indeed.

    • Posted July 14, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Church Mouse. Was your wedding day as hot as ours was?

    • Posted July 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      It was a warm day for the shore of Lake Superior. The wind off the lake kept it pleasant though. I was just happy there was no rain for our outdoor wedding. 🙂

  2. Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Lori, very good analysis of “middle aged” marriage – you are entering another very fun, very satisfying age of marriage. You should enjoy free time for yourselves, perhaps more time (and money) to travel, to go out for the evening – all the things that to a large extent, are put on hold during child rearing years.

    Your dad and I are thankful that we still have the health and ability to enjoy those things. We are very thankful for you, Kevin and your wonderful children. We pray that you will have many more years together and when the “middle-aged” marriage gives way to the “old(er)-aged” marriage, you will still be enjoying each other and doing the things you love.

  3. Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary! You are both wonderful and such a good example of working with and for each other.

    • Posted July 14, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Melaine. It is sobering to know others are watching when we know we have so many flaws and so much to improve. I am thankful for my siblings’ “working” marriages, too.

  4. Posted July 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful. Thank you for your example and encouraging words. 🙂

  5. Posted July 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    This is very encouraging. Thank you!

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