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This Old Spouse

My spouse is turning forty tomorrow, and is feeling gloomy about it. I am finding his gloom aggravating. I appreciate that I may very well feel the same when it’s my turn, but from the vantage of early 39, turning 40 seems like a nice official Goodbye, clinging to my vanished youth, hello middle age! moment. I suggested this line of logic to him, but it didn’t make him feel better. I don’t know what his specific gripe is, though I’ve asked. I think he just feels oooooold. Next solution: Hand him a newborn! What says youth like being the father of a newborn?

But feeling shitty about turning 40 is a whole Big Thing, so presumably there’s a reason why it’s a common experience. I’ve been wondering why I am not very bothered and he is. I think it might be partly that I know I’m not supposed to be happy in middle age. Lots of people aren’t. There’s substantial evidence that for many people, in many places, happiness over the life course is U shaped. We’re happy when we’re young, then there’s a plateau of lameness, then we’re happy again. And maybe if you’re lucky enough to have the official These are the things that make up a good life list (job, house, family, health) checked off, as my spouse does, then it can be even harder. You feel like you’ve got no good reason for not feeling happy all the time. But hey! We’re first worlders, we don’t need a reason. For me, knowing that the plateau of lameness exists and I can just relax into feeling shitty for, uh, about thirty years, takes the pressure off and comforts me.

Anyway, this is the birthday card I made for him.


I suppose it’s also possible that he’s gloomy because of his insensitive wife…

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fantastic. Besides, willing to bet at least a dollar he TOTALLY already knew you were like this when you got married.

    August 4, 2015
  2. P.S. Have you suggested that some renovations might improve his outlook and sales potential? Some of those houses they rehab look amazing afterwards. 🙂

    August 4, 2015
  3. Happy birthday, Mr. Bunny!

    I never understood the big deal about turning 30 (positively or negatively). I guess that’s why I’m only moderately disappointed that my 30th involved (a) a huge (sleep-deprived-parents-of-5-month-baby-induced) fight with my husband the day before and thus (b) thinking until late the day of that he’d forgotten it was my birthday. As it was, he didn’t realize it was my 30th until the next year…

    My dad’s birthday is coming up next week, he’ll be 61 — maybe I should send him the same card!

    August 4, 2015
  4. I love this.

    August 4, 2015
  5. Ana #

    ha! love the title. My spouse turned 40 last summer and didn’t seem the bit phased by it. I’m the one that might have some angst about it next year, so I will refer back to this post…

    August 4, 2015
  6. My former PhD advisor says turning 30 and 40 are nothing. Turning 50 is supposed to be a bitch, because you are officially OLD (his words).
    And I totally get the plateau of lameness… This is how I’d sum up the feeling: “Technically, everything is perfect. But… Is this all there is?” I think all Wife 2.0, red corvettes, and botox injections of the middle age come from trying to get something new and exciting, because… Even awesome gets boring. (I may be an awful person.)

    August 4, 2015
  7. 40 didn’t bother me. 41 involved something resembling an existential crisis…

    August 5, 2015
  8. Nicky #

    What a great card! It looks like something my DH would make for me. I hope he gets over his 40’s doldrums soon.

    August 5, 2015
  9. Amazing birthday card. I am stealing it for my spouse.

    August 5, 2015
  10. Happy Birthday Mr Bunny!

    I can’t seem to get myself worked up about the round numbers either – the flip side being that I don’t embrace the big celebrations either. I’m guessing that that there card is one of the reasons that Mr Bunny is married to you in the first place. It’s awesome but the data points suggest we have quite a way to go before sunshine and rainbows :(.

    August 5, 2015
  11. I was all “am totally cool about turning 40 in three months”, until I realised that the big plans to go somewhere nice for my birthday were just MY plans, and my husband had no idea why I was so upset when he cheerfully came up with something totally different FOR ANOTHER PERIOD OF THE YEAR. I did not understand why I got so upset, but then it got me thinking, and I might be a tad less enthusiastic about having just three months left in my 30s. I can’t quite put it into words, but I suggest you be more cautiou, and tiptoe around the issue. You NEVER know when the depression caused by turning 40 comes and bites you on the fluffy bottom. On a second thought, yes, you do, it’s right before the event. But although you still think you’ve got LOAD AND LOADS of good, fun times ahead until then, and you think a new baby will keep you all busy and entertained, I would still advise you to not be too sarcastic. Please trust me on this.

    August 5, 2015
  12. This is hilarious. Rapidly nearing 40 myself, I’m so glad to know that the plateau of lameness explains all my general malaise these days.

    August 7, 2015
  13. Steph #

    So fucking creative!

    August 9, 2015
  14. SRB #

    Pffffffft. Anybody whose wife gives them a card with a scatterplot AND a clinical reference is married to a QUEEN.

    There is something to your point, though… about not expecting to be happy. I think about this a lot. Not enough to have something eloquent to say on the matter at this time, but enough that I think I am sliding into the mindset. The “it is what it is” mindset. Blerg…thoughts not coming out as planned.

    August 10, 2015
  15. I hope Mr. Bunny had a great birthday. I thought of him lots on his birthday. He’s awesome (almost as much as his extraordinary wife, who is by no means insensitive). What a great birthday card.

    August 10, 2015

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