You broke it you bought it: thoughts on getting old

You broke it you bought it. Ten years into marriage and I am thinking of that phrase in a whole new light.

Wait. Let me explain.

There is comfort in being part of a couple with some history behind it because, let’s face it, as far as looks are concerned my better days are behind me. I met my wife, Sarah, when I was in my late 20s. Not one gray hair, not one ounce of fat nor one eye crinkle did I have.

In those days, putting my best foot forward meant looking good. These days, not so much. I don’t mean that I’ve let myself go, not by any means. But more appropriate for where I am now in life, putting my best foot forward means being a good dad and husband. By doing that–always putting the family first—I know my place in my wife’s heart is secure.

That is regardless of whether or not my hair starts to recede or I end up needing to buy bigger pants. Although it goes against the American ethos to "not go gentle into that good night" (or in other words, age gracefully), there are real advantages that present themselves with the passage of time.

The first one I would offer is self-acceptance. I spent my youth racing around worried about how I looked and what I wore. Each New Year’s Eve, Saint Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. etc. found me in loud, expensive bars, restaurants and not-so-hot hotspots passing out business cards that showed off my latest rung on the corporate ladder. Like a ping pong ball, I was always at the mercy of the forces around me.

Now picture an old couple sitting in a room reading the paper together. They are sipping wine and the TV is off.

Self-acceptance is typically not a trait of the young. When I talk about the advantages of aging, typical reactions are, "What possible advantage could there be to getting older?" and "Aging sucks."

Why are opinions so strongly held over something inevitable? Marketing. That is the best I can come up with. All we see on TV are images of ideal beauty. By design, ideal beauty is the kind of beauty that can only be bought.

The images that bombard us are created and paid for by the companies that make the clothing we must wear, the products we put in our hair or the creams that fix our skin.

Psych 101 tells us that we believe the things we hear and see the most and the only way we are going to see an image of an older couple enjoying the paper with the TV off is if it is paid for by The New York Times.

If all we see are false representations, how will we ever take pride in the love handles and streaks of gray that indicate experience, wisdom, and leadership? The American idea that youth is ideal is pretty one-sided.

Self-assurance isn’t the only pro to entering the golden years. Relationships grow over time and this is thanks to mature people who outgrew pettiness, learned to see from a less selfish perspective and figured out how to think deeper through the years.

Did you know that older men are more likely to say I love you?

Not only do we learn to accept who we really are and have better relationships with time, we are better able to prioritize and all of this adds to the comfort that comes with being an older couple, from knowing you’re good, even if you’re not in peak form, when you look up from your paper at your bespectacled buddy.

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