The fact that so many people find love and get married in nursing homes should give us all hope. Love gets easier when we’re older. We’re more mature and settled, more realistic and patient, more accepting, more likely to realize the uniquely delightful qualities of the person before us. We quit asking ourselves if this is really The One and just ask, Can I sit in a room with this person for several evenings in a row? Whoever you are, there’s someone out there for you. Assume that this is true, believe that it is a certainty, and start getting ready. There are some thoughtful things you can do while you’re waiting.
If I’d known I wouldn’t get married to Mr. Awesome Pants until I was thirty-four, it would have been great. I would have skipped several young gentlemen entirely. I could have avoided a couple of humiliating blind dates and just stayed home and read a book. I would have relaxed. There are a few people I could have kept as platonic friends if we hadn’t ruined it by trying to date each other. Yeah, I have sweet memories from a few old flames. I probably would have enjoyed them even more if I’d been able to take them as they were, without constantly querying whether this was “going anywhere.” It’s so much better to just appreciate someone’s company and let the moment be what it is.
What would I have done differently? I’m actually pretty proud of myself for doing a lot of the things that I did to prepare for marriage. Some of them I did with that goal explicitly in mind. Others were just a natural result of my proclivities. Everything I ever did to take care of myself, to give myself a better life, also led directly to becoming more marriageable. I saved money and learned to live comfortably within my (limited) financial means. I paid off my consumer debt; in fact, I paid for my share of our wedding in cash. I learned to keep house and follow a recipe. I tried to be a good roommate to various people. I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, in spite of my love of travel, and I was already pretty good at domestic contentment when I met my husband.
Welcome to my comfy nest. I hope you like it as much as I do.
There are definitely things I would have done differently, though. I would have avoided my first marriage, failure that it was, and that would have been a favor to my ex-husband. Can we agree that if we ever find a wormhole back to 1997, that we both step through it and unmarry each other? Sold. What else? I would have learned to cook sooner! I would have changed my eating habits (especially soda) and I would have been more assertive about my health. If I knew then what I know now, I would have focused the hardest on managing my parasomnia disorder. I would have worked on lowering my stress level. I would have tried to do more about my punctuality issues.
Marriage has been good to me. My hubby has taught me so much about so many things that it’s all I can do to keep up. He taught me his athletic mindset. He taught me his mutant-like ability to focus and switch into System II thinking on demand. He’s helped me figure out how to be punctual and get ready quickly. He taught me how to go paperless. He taught me how to play offense in finance, to focus more on earning than on saving. In return, I’ve taught him everything I know about nutrition, minimalism, and all the non-STEM subjects he never had time to study. I also do all the translating when we go overseas. We’re formidable as a team in ways we never could be as singles.
Two people together can live more comfortably because we split the labor and the expenses while doubling our skill set. Two people can live on 140% of what it costs for a single person: One rent, one electric bill, one bed, etc. Two people can each do half the cooking and half the housework. Two people can approach a problem in completely different ways. It’s so much easier to tackle life as a team that it’s simply unfair. This is why it really pays off to master your flaws as much as you can; you’ll make yourself that much more appealing to a mate who will then magnify everything good in your life.
While you’re waiting to meet the person you’re going to meet, get ready. Think of it as prepping for a party. This person is going to make you laugh, cheer you up, surprise you in pleasant and funny ways, understand you, listen to you, hug you, and pick up the slack when you’re having a hard time. What are you willing to do for a great person like that?
When I was single, I made a cozy nest. I wanted my place to feel great to come home to, for me, and also one day for a lovely sweet man. Whoever he might be, I figured he would want a little space. I set up a nightstand on the other side of the bed and left it empty. Just a lamp and an empty drawer. Nobody was sleeping over, and I certainly had a lamp on my side. It was a symbolic gesture. Two pillows. Two teacups. Two towel racks. Man of the future, whoever he was, he should be able to come over and sit at my dining table with me. He should be able to take a nap on my couch. He should be glad to be there with me.
I was fine with being single. In most ways, I still am. I still read what I want, listen to the music I like, smooch my pet parrot, visit my family whenever I want, talk to my friends, go on all-girl hiking trips, even have lunch with old boyfriends from time to time. I always liked going to movies by myself (because I like to sit in the front), going out to eat alone (with a book), and generally doing what I want. I felt ready to remarry because I had already traveled alone, taken ballroom dance lessons, lived alone, and gotten my yayas out. I knew who I was and what I wanted in life. I was comfortable being by myself, and I could have gone on doing so for as long as it took. I had a jar pop. I got married again because it was an improvement, because my husband is a cool guy and I like talking to him.
While you’re waiting, make sure you enjoy your life. Do everything you ever thought would be fun and everything you think would be a good idea. Get your house in order. Fix your finances. Find a career that fascinates you. Make your body into the body that you want to live in. Eliminate anything you’re not proud of. Deepen your friendships. Like your life for what it is. If you can’t love it, change it - change it quickly and change it radically. Work on your character flaws. It couldn’t hurt to also improve your cooking and get your personal space ready. Make a cozy nest, and be ready with a smile when it’s time to open your door.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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