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…