It Feels Weird To Watch My Wife Try To Stay Young

Photo: sirtravelalot / Shutterstock
middle aged couple talking

The night my wife turned 40, we left the kids with my folks and went out for dinner and drinks. We sat at a bar, and I mentioned something about her 30s almost being over.

"Well, you have one more year until you turn 40!" I took a sip of my beer with a smirk on my face.

She stared at me blankly. "Babe, I’m 40 today," she smiled.

"What? …Really?" I had the dumbest look on my face.

Yep. I had no idea it was her 40th birthday. I thought she was 39.

We were in our late 20s when we met, and she still looked 29 to me. The running joke since that night is that I don’t know how old she is, and that’s fine.

She says I erred in the right direction, anyway. In my mind’s eye, she’ll always be 29.

RELATED: 5 Things The Most Attractive Older Women Do To Look And Feel Young

As we age, we only see others as aging — we don’t see ourselves getting older.

When you’re young, you see people in their 40s as old and decrepit. Then when you hit your 40s, you think, Hey, I don’t feel that old.

We all age to a certain point where we’re considered wise, and then we cross over. When you hit any age, your perspective shifts.

Every night my wife does this skincare routine that seems like more work than I do on myself in a week.

She has extremely sensitive skin, whereas I have no nerves remaining in mine. Though, to be fair, I’ve sanded a lot of mine off. I only wash and dry it with dish soap or whatever. Sometimes. She’s more like a Mercedes, while I’m more like a Jeep just needing to be hosed off once in a while.

I blame TikTok for all of the following treatments, by the way.

She has masks and creams and pastes. She’s got these pads she sticks under her eyes that make her look like a linebacker. There is an eye-massaging robot and a neck-stretching gizmo. There are exfoliating mittens for her hands and feet and she crinkles while we watch Ted Lasso.

The closet is full of bottles of chemicals I could never begin to understand. Her bathroom is full of sponges and pads razors and poofs and abrasives and polishing cloths. Hyaluronic creams and conditioning salves and collagen-boosting peptides. What the heck is a peptide? She has as many tools for her skincare as I do in the garage for the entire house.

RELATED: I'm Sick Of Everyone Acting Like My Aging Body Needs To Be 'Fixed'

The one thing I don’t know is who she does it all for.

I know she doesn’t do it for me, and that’s good because I don’t need that kind of pressure. She’s extremely self-aware and takes care of herself, with little need for affirmation from me. But is she doing this because society says she should, or because it makes her feel good?

She also likes to run and work out a lot. In the Phil Stutz documentary by Jonah Hill on Netflix, Jonah mentions that exercise was framed wrong for him. Exercise was portrayed as a way for him to look better, not a way to be mentally healthier.

Losing weight, if it happens, should be considered a byproduct of exercise, not the goal.

My wife has told me hundreds of times that she needs to work out and move to feel good, and there’s very little vanity there. If there is, it’s certainly secondary to feeling good.

Still, she works out every day and does her skincare routine all night while we watch TV. I kind of feel guilty for being a guy and just sitting there while she works so hard at not aging. It makes me feel weird. Should I be trying harder? Should I be swimming upstream?

I know women have a different standard to live up to. I read an article a couple of years ago talking about how women are expected to remain sexy as long as possible. Are old white men driving this? Or is it commercialism or social media or other women?

RELATED: Why Some People Seem To Be Aging Faster Than Others

To be honest, I don’t think my wife will ever stop looking f***able. My hunch is that I will beat her to that benchmark anyway.

As I age I wonder the same thing about men. Are we not supposed to look virile for as long as we can? Men can look "virile" into their 60s, but women can be sexy and older too. I see older women as powerful and confident, with amazing life stories to tell — same as anyone else.

I just don’t care about my laugh lines or my greying beard. Everyone is bald in my family, so I probably have that to look forward to. These days it takes the same amount of work to stay in a less-fit state than just a few years ago. I still work out and stuff, but recovery is harder and my energy is lower.

It reminds me of that meme that says, "I’m at the point where the only way I’m getting in shape is in prison." I imagine that is a universal truth when you cross over the hill.

There are groups trying to reframe aging away from something we need to battle. Everyone wants to look and feel young, but we have to manage our expectations about what that looks and feels like.

My wife doesn’t look any older to me than she did 15 years ago. Maybe because the people we are closest to are aging right along with us and we barely notice. When I look at older pictures of us together, I see the same two people, except perhaps now more worldly, and weary.

We made two new people together, and her body paid the price more than mine. But I don’t think I’d see her any differently if she stopped her routine today.

I tell her often how beautiful she is, but the truth is that I don’t see her aging, and I can’t help but wonder if I ever will. Maybe I need to remind her I’ll always find her beautiful.

When I comment on her routine, she tells me, "It’s a lot of work to stay 39."

Age is just a number, after all.

RELATED: 10 Accessories To Wear That Instantly Make You Look 5 Years Younger

Chris Robin is a husband and father of two. He writes his innermost thoughts about relationships, addiction, parenting, and writing. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.