In the movie When Harry Met Sally, there’s a scene where Sally, played by Meg Ryan, describes the reason she and her boyfriend decided to live together rather than get married. In the iconic scene, she says, in part, “When Joe and I started seeing each other, we wanted exactly the same thing. We wanted to live together, but we didn’t want to get married because every time anyone we knew got married, it ruined their relationship. They practically never had sex again. It’s true, it’s one of the secrets that no one ever tells you.” She goes on to say that her friend Alice freely admitted that she and her husband rarely had sex because kids sucked the life out of their romantic impulses.
When I saw that movie almost 30 years ago (God, has it been that long?!), I remember thinking that I wanted a relationship like Sally described. I didn’t want to be one half of an old boring married couple who never had sex. I wanted to travel! I wanted to have fascinating friends to my home for spirited conversations about art, politics, and the meaning of life! We were going to have sex with wild abandon, right there on that cold Mexican ceramic tile, dammit.
But you see, life has a funny way of laughing at you when you put stuff like that out into the universe. I’ve been married for 18 years, and I can say with authority that I am officially one half of a boring married couple. We are exhausted, our lives revolve around our kids, and like Sally, we’ve never once done the hanky panky on that cold Mexican ceramic tile.
My husband and I are the living embodiment of pretty much every marital stereotype out there. And you know what? I couldn’t be happier being an old boring married couple. There’s a lot to be said for the comfort of familiarity and the joy of that comes from knowing that your partner isn’t going anywhere. Being a stereotypical married couple is actually pretty wonderful, and if you are worried your marriage is humdrum, here’s a list of married stereotypes not debunked.
1. Married couples don’t have sex frequently.
Absolutely. Because, let’s face it: When a kid is puking at 2 a.m., sexy time is the last thing on your mind. And with little feet constantly underfoot, sneaking off to the bedroom at 2 in the afternoon isn’t really feasible. But just because we aren’t bumping uglies every night on that ceramic tile, doesn’t mean we aren’t having sex. When the stars align and married couples can finally get it on, it’s just plain hot. Quality over quantity, people.
2. Married couples spend their weekends at Home Depot — and Bed Bath & Beyond (if they have time).
When we first got married, the thought of spending date night at a big box construction store made me break out in hives. But now, 18 years into home ownership, nothing makes me more excited than to head to the bathroom fixture aisle on a Sunday afternoon. My husband and I have worked hard to create a nice home, and we’ve done it together — room by room. And if we are at Home Depot, that means the bathroom toilet is finally getting fixed, and maybe, just maybe, I can talk him into that kitchen light I’ve been salivating over. Love is…picking out a farmhouse kitchen sink, friends.
3. Married couples hardly ever talk anymore.
Yep, this one is absolutely true but not in the way you’d think. The art of silent talking comes from years of communication over little heads, across rooms, and at crowded events. When you’ve shared a life with someone, you become familiar with their stories, their humor, and their experiences. You just simply know how your partner will react in situations, and it’s awesome. I love that my husband can raise his eyebrow to me at a party, and I know that it means, “One more circle around the room, and we can get out of here.”
4. Married couples never go out on Saturday nights anymore.
One of the great joys of being married is that you literally give zero damns about the party scene on a Saturday night. And after a day of youth sports, kids’ birthday parties, 86 loads of laundry, and yardwork, the last thing a married couple wants to do is paint the town red. Married couples are the OG “Netflix and Chill” crowd, and we are proud of it, dammit. Give us a good docudrama, a bowl of popcorn, and some wine, and you have the makings of a pretty awesome Saturday night, thank you very much.
5. Married couples only talk about their kids.
Yes, we talk about our kids because that is our life now. We have tiny humans whom we are expected to see safely through to college and beyond, and it’s our job to discuss them and their futures. When my husband and I head out on date night, often it’s the only time we can privately discuss a situation with our teenager or plan a birthday surprise for our tween. And just because we are always communicating about our kids doesn’t mean we don’t talk about important issues. We just discuss politics after we’ve decided who’s running interference for school carpool in the morning.
Being a boring old married couple has been an unexpected joy in my life. Last summer, when my husband and I went through some marital growing pains, our therapist suggested that we examine the “we moments” that we cherished the most as a way of finding romance again. I realized that my happiest moments are spent sitting next to my husband, in my fuzzy slippers and pajamas, as he snoozes next to me on the couch. Because, in those quiet moments, I realize there’s nothing boring about being content.