When I first announced to my sister over the phone that I was getting married, there was dead silence on the other end.
And then, "Really?"
She was the first of many people who expressed consternation at my announcement. And frankly, she was the nicest.
Because the thing is, I’m 50 and this is my first marriage.
My sister then went on to ask if I was sure, and why this time, why this man, why marriage at last, when I had been so dismissive about the whole institution all this time?
"Honestly," I replied, "I just know for certain this time."
There was no other reason except that I was sure K* was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Never had any other man made me feel this certain. We had plenty in common - a love for travelling and books, and a certain disregard for societal norms - but also complemented each other well.
He was calm and levelheaded while I was mostly led by my heart.
Unlike the men I previously dated (two of whom I dated for more than five years), K felt more than just a lover.
He was also a friend and confidante, someone whose opinion I sought and trusted, someone I enjoyed talking with and whom I could never get enough of.
He had come out of a failed marriage and never thought he could ever be in one again, until we met on a trip to Machu Picchu and hit it off right away, then continued to remain in contact when we returned.
In the week after I got engaged, I told everyone I met about the news. My mother, a divorcee herself, was bewildered, since she had long given up the hope that I would get married. Weddings were for fresh-faced and starry-eyed twenty- or thirty-somethings, not wrinkly and cynical fifty-somethings.
My friends echoed my sister’s sentiments. Most of them were happy for me. “Finally,” was the common response, often accompanied by a somewhat exasperated sigh. I was, in their eyes, a defiant free spirit who did not want to be tied down by a ring. “No one can lock her down,” said A*, a close friend of mine.
It’s not like I had never entertained the thought of marriage. It just never seemed … necessary. I’ve had exes who proposed, but there was just something lacking, as though they were doing it because it was expected of them after a relationship that long.
We had grown used to each other and were largely going through the motions. There was no soul in the relationship.
What, I wondered, was the point of going through the whole ceremony then?
Other friends had more to say about my late-term marriage. They kept asking if I was sure, cautioning me against what others would say if I walked down the aisle at my age.
But if they thought that would faze me, then they didn’t know me at all.
They also warned that being married at this age would be difficult, because we’re usually set in our ways by now and can be less willing to compromise.
But I felt like they were imposing their judgement on me and K without understanding our relationship.
It sounds corny to say that K changed me, but he did. Or at least, he changed my view towards marriage.
I never thought I would find love again, or be willing to settle down with a partner, since my experience with relationships has only left me jaded and weary.
But in K, I have found a connection that I want to cherish. He’s a good, kind, honest man who is steadfast and patient.
He bears some emotional scars of his own, and while we first approached this relationship carefully, we would now guard it with our lives.
Our relationship makes me better, and want to constantly be better, instead of languishing in a stagnant state like my exes and I had in my past relationships.
“Why marriage though?” everyone asked. “Why finally?”
And all I could say was, “I’m ready.”
Previously, whenever a relationship didn’t work, I would call it a day and end things cleanly.
Without marriage, it was much easier to walk away. Marrying someone is like saying “I want to make this work, even when things get hard”. It’s a way to show someone that you’re serious about him, that you’re in it for the long haul.
It’s possible to fall in love at any age. It shouldn’t matter that K and I are in our fifties.
In fact, I’m glad I waited this long before settling down.
They say we need to meet our other halves at the right time or it won’t work.
And I believe that it’s because of what K and I have been through respectively, how we have grown from our experiences, that we can meet at this point as soulmates, not another disillusioned pair of lovers going through the motions and gradually falling out of love with each other.
And that’s why I got married at 50 … and it’s the best decision I ever made.
It’s because we’ve been running for so long that we know now that it’s time to take root with each other.
*Names have been changed.