My husband and I found each other in our 50’s, and appreciate what a gift it is to be together. Between the two of us, we have a string of what society refers to as failed marriages and relationships. We see them as experiences that brought us where we are today, which is with each other. We do not regret our paths, indeed we can look on them with wonderment about how those bumps got us where we are today. One big aspect of our current relationship is we take responsibility for our own feelings; we don’t blame each other for what we feel. This saves a lot of time, energy and conversations and frees us up to enjoy each other. I have been familiar with this concept for decades but actually practice it now. The payoff for taking responsibility for myself is more time for unmitigated joy.
Ken and I take walks together every day the weather is agreeable to us. Shortly after the tree fell on our house last October, we were walking in our neighborhood. A neighbor saw us and ran over to introduce himself and inquire about our house and our welfare. We got to talking and at one point he commented he had seen us on our walks, and how cute we were.
When the weather isn’t agreeable, we sometimes mall walk. We don’t have a local mall, so we walk in box stores. While walking the perimeters of one, on our second lap we passed the same staff person stocking on a ladder and she smiled endearingly at us. My husband said, “She thinks we’re cute”. We talked about these two incidents. Both people were being complimentary, but it also felt dismissive, like we were being patted on the head, and not taken seriously.
I Googled “Cute Older Couples” and found a Pinterest category! Cute Older Couples It has pictures of couples who appear a decade or so older than Ken and me. I studied the pictures to see what qualified them for this cute category. Besides the fact they were noticeably elderly, they were visibly engaged with each other, either by touching, actively doing something together, or looking at each other. A lot of them were smiling. I decided I would rather categorize these pictures as “Loving Couples”. I am obviously wanting to be rid of the word “cute”. It occurred to me elderly loving couples may appear cute because they are an anomaly. I hope I am wrong. It seems, though, I see a fair amount of couples who are together but don’t seem to be engaged with each other. I think about the developmental stage used to describe toddlers who engage in parallel play. They are in proximity to each other, but playing separately. I know the busyness of life together can easily result in being in parallel play mode, and not engaged with each other. I think it’s a reason some couples dread retirement; they have forgotten why they played together in the first place. Maybe the elderly couples who look cute have kept that gift of enjoying each other.
My husband and I walk in the world, hand in hand and are smiled upon. It may be dismissive, but that will only last until they get to know us. Then they will find two people who have walked around the block several times, have fallen down, picked ourselves up, and learned that there is plenty in life to be happy about. They will learn we look cute because we are ridiculously happy, individually and as a couple. We relish our time together, and now that we are unfettered with jobs, we delight even more in our activities, recognizing this time together as the gift that it is.