We’ve all heard the virtues of young love touted time and time again — in our favorite movies, our favorite songs, and even our favorite books. But you know what gets a bad rap? Old love. The kind of love that exists between a couple who’s been together so long, they can hardly remember what life was like before they woke up to their partner’s bed head and morning breath. And they honestly wouldn’t care to.
Amy Betters-Midtvedt knows that kind of love well. It’s the kind of love she and her husband Todd have comfortably slid into over the course of their 20-year marriage, and the subject of her recent Facebook post, which is resonating with couples everywhere.
“There was a time I brushed my teeth, hair sprayed my hair and lipsticked my lips if I even thought I might run into this guy on the way to class,” Betters-Midtvedt writes. “I never wanted him to see me at anything less than my absolute, albeit big haired, best. And now here we are … bringing sexy back with our his and her CPAP machines. This is what love actually looks like friends.”
Yes, it certainly is.
Old love may not always be celebrated as loudly or considered conventionally “sexy,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome in its own right. This kind of love “looks like suffering through long, long, loud nights of your partner snoring,” writes Betters-Midtvedt. “And snoring. And snoring … And mornings where your wife is a giant pile of smeared mascara and grouchy attitude because once again insomnia claimed her nighttime hours.”
But then it’s “laughing your heads off when [you] end up with CPAP machines and … can’t wait to jump into bed together.”
The mom of five and blogger behind Hiding in the Closet with Coffee tells Babble that she originally shared the post because the image of both she and her husband in their matching CPAP masks honestly cracked her up. But the moment ultimately wound up making her think about what marriage truly is — which she defines as “looking out for each other, laughing together at growing older, and loving and accepting those changes in ourselves together.”
“We fell in love when I was 19 and he was 21,” Betters-Midtvedt tells Babble. “I think we had the idea that life would be perfect once we could get married and live together. Of course, so many parts of that are wonderful, but it’s also hard to live in harmony with any human … even one you are in love with.”
As the years ticked by, Betters-Midtvedt says she and her husband had no idea just how many ways kids would change their relationship, and how hard they’d still have to work to find ways to connect. But one thing never did change throughout their 20-year marriage, and 26 years together: their ability to laugh at themselves, and each other.
“We have always had so much fun together and that part has been just as it was way back in the day that we met in the dorms at school,” she says. “That ability to have fun and find the humor in the crazy has gotten us through the hard times.”
Her words have hit home with hundreds on Facebook, who have chimed in that Betters-Midtvedt may as well be describing their marriage, too. (And plenty of others who couldn’t rave about the wonders of the CPAP machine enough.)
But perhaps that’s no surprise.
We talk a lot about the rising divorce rates, but perhaps not enough about the relationships that endure. The ones that hang on for dear life, through the stress of early parenthood, the loss of jobs, and the sickness (and even death) of our own parents. Sometimes, the everyday love stories get lost, but they’re still worth telling.
According to Betters-Midtvedt, it was the not-so-picture-perfect times that ultimately shaped her marriage into what it is today.
“There is just no shame left once someone has seen you give birth and brought you an iced donut pillow for your nether regions!” Betters-Midtvedt says. “And every bit of breaking through those appearances has led to deeper and better loving of the other’s real self. So all of the mess is just completely worth it.”
Still, the couple does have some limits: “We still don’t walk in on each other in the bathroom,” she says. “That has remained sacred.”
I can’t say that I know firsthand what 20 years of marriage looks like yet myself; but if it looks even half as fun as this, I sure hope I one day will.