I'm A First-Time Newlywed at 38! WHAT?

Reflections on married life from someone who wasn't really planning to get there.
Publish date:
May 20, 2011
marriage, newlyweds

After half a life of half-assed serial monogamy and a whole life of not knowing how to be a grown-up, I got engaged and married last December at age 37.

I’d been engaged before, he’d been engaged before. It’s no accident or coincidence that neither of us brainiacs had managed to actually jump the stupid broom.

But guess what? At 37 and 42, it was right. We were for each other. Gross.

So now I’m a 38 year-old first-time newlywed and it feels totally bizarre/natural, creepy/sweet/trapped/comfortable. Just like I’d always dreamed.

I no longer have a “boyfriend,” which is nice because after 35 it feels dumb and ridiculous to call someone that, but trying to come up with another name is even worse. Just marry me already so I won’t feel stupid or 14 talking about you!

Though even today, five short/long months later, saying “my husband” makes me think I’m the in-character shoplifting gang chick assigned to keep the clerk distracted. “My HUSBAND just got a PROMOTION, could you bring out the OTHER tray of watches ALSO?”

Sharing money feels crazy. Sometimes I walk around the apartment alone chanting, “it’s our money. It’s our money. It’s our money,” ad finitum because I want alternately to be a financial dictator and person-capable-of-spending-$300-on-stickers-nail-polish-and-Pocky. Sue me! Please don’t.

We have frenzied, migraine-inducing Gilmore Girls-style panic chatter on our way over to socialize with another couple or, Lorelei forbid, couples. WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE MARRIED PEOPLE.

Except, we are pretty good at it. He’s a natural. Seriously. My theory is the little devil of the mostly pre-me past was the put-on, the wonderful compassionate husband is the true nature. Thankfully, I’m the one who got to find out.

I had been a sort of decent long-term “girlfriend experience” at best before this relationship. Sasha Grey and I know that’s an empty life.

Our first uncomfortable talk/fight after the hitching, I remember being a weeping conflicted animal because I wanted to bolt (my old m.o.) and was gently reminded that we were just having a discussion to better understand each other and that’s what people do. Whatever, Dr. Phil. But thanks for being people with me. It’s a better way to live.

The surprises to my delight: we both felt a physical, biological, psychic shift almost instantly after delivering the genuinely sweet City Clerk vows straight into each others eyes. Powerful stuff I would NOT have believed if you tried to explain it to me beforehand (a talk with a soon-to-be twice married pal showed me the feeling was not un-reproducible, but still). And second, married sex is blowing my mind.

I don’t know if it’s any easier to marry younger or older. Writing thank you cards and making sure there are hand towels in the bathroom is practically rocket science when you're us. Aw, we’re us.

My standard barf-inducing line was I wanted to grow-up with him and then grow old with him. That’s some cornball shit, but it’s happening.

My husband just got a publishing deal, so I’ll go from newlywed to book-widow pretty quickly here, but I’m a grown ass woman now. I can handle things like that. Can you bring out the OTHER tray of watches ALSO?