I admit to some cynicism over the fact that his wife is, as I expected, younger (33), but I found what he had to say about marrying at an older age enlightening:
I have a wife I love. But unlike people who marry at 22 or even 32, with some part of their adult experience still unformed, I have never thought that Lucy completes me. Or even that I’m happier than before. With no one to do it for me, I had already jury-rigged a life: a career, a circle of friends, a library card that I had every reason to believe would sustain me to the end — and happily so. Marriage at 40 is a lateral move.
I’m reminded of this whenever Lucy and I fight, because our fights are not the fast-moving thunderstorms of youth but the daily drizzle of realizing you did all of this before on your own, from cooking to cleaning to driving cross-country, and never once criticized yourself. You never held up an ostensibly washed dish to yourself and said, “Do you see what I see?” You never asked yourself to roll up the windows, turn down the music, and watch the merging traffic until you sat there, tense in the silent car, thinking, “I knew road trips and you’re no road trip.”
From this excerpt I bet this marriage doesn’t last. The things about marriage, is at some level it Should complete you. This is not to say that you are “unformed” or incomplete or unhappy before – but rather that being with the person adds a level of happiness and joy that should, defined in this way, “complete” both lives. And to some extent the fights should be more than just about the dishes etc – fights come from a point of caring to some extent. Is there nothing they are passionate about – are they not intertwined in each other? If not, it won’t last. If you’re not married to your best friend, to someone you respect and have fun with etc – and therefore to some extent Does complete you – then one day the lust will leave and you’ll be left with nothing.
He does end the essay with this:
Recently, while we were eating dinner at the kitchen counter, the way I would’ve when I shared a place with squirrels, Lucy asked me, “Are you really no happier than before? Or have you just not figured out yet what you’ve got?”
No, I assured her, I’ve figured it out. I just need to be asking myself a different question: not whether I’m happier now than I was being single, but whether I’m happier now than I would be without her. It’s the only question that matters in any marriage. And I have no reason to think that the answer won’t be yes for the graying, balding, prostate-pondering rest of my life.
Ok, well that seems to prove my point. The wife asked – “Are you really no happier than before? Or have you just not figured out yet what you’ve got yet”. That’s a profoundly sad thing to say to someone you have married – she obviously has doubts – and these doubts would be because of how she has been treated emotionally and because of the way he makes her feel. He is over thinking it all – and people do this when they have doubts. Either he’s happy with her or he’s not – and he seems to be talking himself into it more than anything else.
“No, I assured her, I’ve figured it out. I just need to be asking myself a different question: not whether I’m happier now than I was being single, but whether I’m happier now than I would be without her.”
He shouldn’t need to assure her and she shouldn’t need to be assured. The love and respect and happiness should be implicit. (Just to clarify – when I say “happy” or “happiness” I don’t mean happy every second/every day, etc – but overall happiness).
He then says – “I just need to be asking myself a different question: not whether I’m happier now than I was being single, but whether I’m happier now than I would be without her.” But these are the same thing. He hasn’t answered anything, except to say previously that one person can’t make you happier. So he would appear to be no happier, if anything – he seems less so. The marriage won’t last, Lucy will look elsewhere for real love.
I’m in total agreement with Mia. It sounds like he simply decided to settle down and saw Lucy as suitable. I’d prefer that he met Lucy and couldn’t imagine a future life for himself without her in it. I’d prefer to hear he was happier with her than before. While saying someone “completes” you might sound saccharine or clichéd, it is still something that I personally would be pleased to hear, as opposed to being allowed to feel as though I were merely someone who just happened to be appropriate and around when he felt ready to settle down.
Really, if a person has so little positive impact on your life, why bother marrying them?