Of my 60 years, I’ve spent 40 with the man I love. It has been a long journey of togetherness, filled with memories to be cherished, lessons learned and a life shared in true earnest. These 40 years of marriage have taught me many a lesson. My life with my husband has been a true roller coaster, with unmatched thrills and daunting odds that can only be understood if you’ve shared a life with a man in uniform.
Amidst it all, the key takeaway remains this: I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If you’ve ever wondered what’s 40 years of marriage like, here is a sneak peek into my long and lasting marital bliss.
What 40 Years Of Marriage Have Taught Me
These days, amongst my friends/relatives, 20 is considered too young for marriage. I was a mother at 22; by the time I was 40, my tiffin-packing days were over and I was free to enjoy my life without encumbrances. Early marriages and parenthood have their advantages.
I chose my mate. I was city-bred and knew nil about the nomadic military world I entered, by his side. We packed and moved several times a year (!) and set up home in places that weren’t found on a map. I was now an army wife, always on the move. From garages to bashas, airy spacious flats to colonial bungalows, from bitter winters of the North to the sultry humidity of the East to desert summers, dramatic monsoons and the moderate climate of the South, I tidied, chopped, washed-dried-ironed, packed and set up homes across the length and breadth of the country in these 40 years of marriage.
Satellites and the internet have changed many things today. Back then, our lives were spent in a cocoon, often disconnected from family and loved ones. Which seemed more bearable in comparison to the alternative – going days or weeks without contact when the call of duty took him away from home.
Related Reading: What we find to talk about after 30 years of marriage
Lessons from 40 years of marriage – Give and take
The adjustment was easy because we were both young. Did it matter, someone asked me, that I had to give up a career? Many times. Sulks, grumbles and days of depression and frustration happened. My classmates became heads of departments, while I cooked and partied.
Looking back, there are no regrets at all. Strange? Perhaps I belonged to a generation where there was always give and take. We all got more than we gave. Love was teamwork all the way. One earned, the other ruled the hearth. I had friends whose husbands raised the kids whilst they slogged at their careers. Today’s feminists are riding on the shoulders of men and women from two or three generations ago who dramatically changed centuries-old traditions.
The myriad shades of love
Love is about coochie-cooing, cuddling and sex, gifts, festivals, whispers, laughter. It is also about disciplining wayward children, defying and later grieving for parents gone, worrying through illnesses and examinations; love is about cold silences that follow hot quarrels. A few bitter moments last, but mostly, life is sweet when one weathers storms together.
Love is about unchanging routines, unending preparations for meals and the morrow; it’s about facing the despair of failures and losses, let-downs by trusted colleagues and promotions denied. Love is also about stolen moments at family get-togethers, tight hugs at receiving good news, wiping happy, satisfied tears when the children turn out to be good and caring human beings and standing with fingers entwined whilst crossing the road to make sure the other isn’t going to get hurt. This is what love after 40 years of marriage feels like.
And what’s 40 years of marriage like, you ask? The drudgery of daily life gets interposed by small mementos, like spilled curry, oily stains on air tickets, smudges on silk saris. Or the showcase reminding us of prizes won, photographs of out-of-town holidays and crazy weekends at home. Painting lessons, mathematics tuitions, who-will-go-with-Ma-for-the-cataract-surgery times eventually get threaded into a sense of togetherness between husband and wife.
The closeness when one is in bed at night, underneath a single sheet, sharing breaths and sweaty limbs, nightclothes crumpled together, that closeness evolves from such punctuations of times happy and sad. The longer the years, the more the hearts seem to beat as one.
Those beautiful memories
We are over the hill, in the teatime of our lives, surely and steadily facing the sunset years. I remember the early days/weeks of our love clearly. Our son, his growing years. A whack or two was part of love, too. Monitoring what he did, when and how he did a task was part of love, too. Parental love. Our pets, how they have enriched all our memories. The people we met, the foods we ate, the jokes we laughed at, the mistakes we made, our successes, our stresses… When we talk of them, we share something precious. We are now two hearts that beat as one. That’s our 40 years of marriage gift.
Knowing faults, acknowledging flaws, bearing with irritants, overcoming or learning to live with the negatives, that’s love in an empty nest. Temperaments have no remedies and regret is an appalling waste of energy. We know that whether or not illness strikes, there’s no cure for old age, one of us must leave the other at some time. The thought weighs us down and we quickly banish it from our minds. Until then, we allow ourselves to enjoy the other’s presence, soak in all that love for as l-o-n-g as possible. May these 40 years of marriage turn to 80, I say.