Coupla years ago, Sarah came to our sacrament meeting and noticed a long-married couple sneak out, holding hands. She leaned over to me and asked “Mom, are they in their golden years?” I laughed, it was a Sarah-ism, where one isn’t quite sure what she means.

But I’ve thought a lot about that, the golden years. When Bill and I were first married, I’d get my feelings hurt and cry if he didn’t come home for lunch on time. I think a lot of young couples (although we were nowhere near representative of anything normal, mind you) experience the sort of thing we did: wife a bit clingy and emotional and husband a bit dense and insensitive.

Of course, it was more than that, but this morning I was reading the movie listings, musing over RIPD (my kind of show, off-beat and irreverent humor), Pacific Rim (Bill’s kind), Red 2 (something we’d both probably enjoy) and I realized how far we’ve come.

These days, Bill will sometimes go alone to his kind of show, although mostly he grabs a daughter (I sometimes wonder if people think he’s cheating on me with this beautiful younger woman :)) or a grandkid. I usually just reserve “my” kind of movie on Netflix. We did go to World War Z together and enjoyed it, but more often we resort to our usual drill. Neither of us likes those animated movies and used to take turns, seriously keeping track, of who took the grandchildren last and who would have to agonize through two hours of Disney. He watches old Clint Eastwood movies over and over. I’m into Downton Abbey.

The really nice thing about the golden years is that we’re letting each other be. He goes off fishing and I read a book. Sometimes we are together, me with my book and he with his fishing pole, casting for trout; more often not. His days off are often filled with busy tasks out of doors while I can go for days getting my dose of outdoors by looking out the window.

I am a grasshopper; he is an ant. I am a thinker; he is a doer, I am a spender; he is a saver. I tend to clutter up my environments; he has to have neat-as-a-pin. I am more of a Democrat; he, a die-hard Republican. I am almost always anemic; his blood count is high! (Would that he could give me a transfusion).

We often sleep in different rooms; I snore and have RLS, he has a noisy C-Pap machine and bad knees. He falls asleep the minute his head hits the pillow; I read for hours sometimes before I hit the hay. I fidget during Sacrament and other meetings where people speak (I’m trying not to reach for my crossword puzzle or cell phone, but sometimes it’s an excruciating process); he pays careful attention. I will avoid any organizational meetings I possibly can when I have callings that demand them; he’s at every meeting they have. I get forgiveness; he gets permission.

For many years, due to these differences (and the similar characteristics of being control-freaks AND onery!), there was a lot of contention in our house. For me, it was a feeling that if you’re in love, you should do everything together. Be on the same track. For him, it was a feeling that I’m the boss, the man of the house, you should do what I do.

Aging has brought a lot of peace, though. Boy, we’ve almost lost it all in those battles and we wouldn’t go back for anything. We both agree it wouldn’t be worth it to have our firm young bodies, our eyesight, our hearing—our brain cells!– if it means losing this art of compromise that allows each of us to be what gives us joy and serenity.

Today, I am resting. I’ve been tending to friends and family for a few months and I’m tired. We’re not going to go to the movies, we’re taking an evening ride on the mountain where we’ll have dinner at a nice place up there. He will tell me about his day and I will tell him about funny things I’ve seen on the internet, or the books I’m reading. We’ll talk about our kids, our friends, our garden. We’ll laugh.

Our friends? That couple in their “golden years?” She’s off on a trip—she loves to travel and is a social butterfly at parties. She’s 65, but looks 50, hair dyed and styled, figure trim and stylishly attired. He’s home quietly tending to his small farm and mountain property. He’s 71, bald, getting a bit shorter and stooped and couldn’t care less what he wears. I’m pretty sure he’s been wearing the same greenish suit for thirty years.

We’re all being who we are, What a gift time has brought.