A little over a week ago I attended a lovely wedding for a dear young couple. During the reception they had the dance where married couples stay on the dance floor and the longer you’ve been married, the longer you get to stay out on the floor. Since Mark and I have been married for nearly 30 years now, we got to stay out there for a fairly long time. (I enjoyed every second as it is the only time I get Mark to dance with me!) My sister Kathy and brother-in-law, Russ, were the “winners”, having been married the longest of anyone at the reception, 40+ years. They got to give the newlyweds advice on having a long, happy marriage.
Since the wedding, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to grow old together. (Well, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about simply growing old as I am less than a month from my 50th birthday.) I mean, I’m a romantic at heart. I write romance for a living. I’m a sucker for happily-ever-after. Most of us dream of find “the one” that is meant for us and to live together in sickness and in health to death do us part.
And really, who doesn’t love it when, at the end of The Wedding Singer, Robbie sings to Julia, “I want to grow old with you….”
My question is, why do we find growing old together so romantic?
Let’s be honest, growing old involves some pretty unromantic stuff like sagging skin and wrinkles and gray hair. When we’re romaticizing growing old together I’m pretty sure we aren’t considering incontenence, impotence or dentures. So what is it that we find so appealing about growing old together?
My opinion is that it comes down to KNOWING. We all want to know and be known. Known from the inside out, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, every aspect of ourselves, and be loved anyway. There’s something so comfortable, and comforting, in being with someone who knows your deepest, darkest secrets; has walked with you down smooth highways and rough and dusty roads of life; has seen you with unbrushed teeth, hair standing on end, and yet wraps you in their arms and says, “I love you”.
A life shared is a life well lived. On the surface (and to the young people) gray hair and wrinkles and sagging skin may not be romantic. But being able to look back over years where you have shared heartaches and happiness; where you have become so secure in your relationship that you can voice opinions without fear of rejection; when you know someone so well you can finish their sentences or look across a room and know what they are thinking – that is the stuff that true love and true romance is made of.
Growing old together is a true adventure of the heart. Experiencing it for myself is motivation to continue writing my happily-ever-after stories!
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death.” Song of Solomon 8:6