A Newlywed, Again
By Joyce Maynard
Last summer, a little shy of my 60th birthday, I made my way through a field on a New Hampshire hill side, where my 61-year-old groom awaited me. I’m a newlywed again.
It’s different, of course. No babies, no in-laws. Where, in my 20s, I barely knew myself, let alone the man I was marrying, the partner Jim gets is a fully formed woman with a long history of friends, work, other relationships, old wounds and hard-earned wisdom. I get a man with the same.
And then there’s the sex part. I know women my age who say they’re all done with that, and others (a few) who hunger for it. I’m in neither place. I’m not even close to feeling ready to give up on the idea of being my partner’s lover. But I can’t pretend, either, that my body chemistry leaves me in the same place I was at 25, or even 45. Tell me about a couple who spend five hours making love and my first reaction will be: That sounds tiring.
In the early days of our time together—when I held in my stomach, naked, and he did pull-ups on the beam over our bed—we showed each other our best selves. Two years later, he knows I get Botox to iron out the lines in my forehead. I ask—when we’re heading out on a trip—did you bring your pills? (Also, the lubricant.)
But if sexual intimacy is, in the end, about showing one’s true self, then we are having the most real sex of our lives. Not the wildest, or the most frequent, or athletic. We are two battle-scarred soldiers, home from the front. I appreciate every small good thing—the way, seeing a drop of pesto on my arm, Jim leans across the table and licks it off my skin; the way, when he plays his bass guitar, I catch a glimpse of the young man he must have been, 40 years ago. Often, when we get into bed, what we want most is sleep. But even then, if I have put on my pajamas (old habit), he tugs at them gently. “What’s this?” he says. (And in truth, I was hoping he’d say that.) Then I pull them off, and we are naked together.