[Note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2014 issue of Real Simple.]
I started working in magazines in the 1990s as a freelance writer, and one of my first stories was about a relatively new Christian teen abstinence campaign called True Love Waits. I was in my 20s, a.k.a. the Decade of Darkness. I had a brand-new graduate degree that was proving to be yet another misstep in my post-college journey—working for a film production company that was about to close its doors; writing a novel that was too horrible to be published; and sleeping in a loft bed in a tiny New York City apartment, across the hall from a mysterious peroxided man named Tom who had so many cats that the hall separating his front door from mine always smelled like a litter box that hadn’t been changed in, oh, 35 years.
The only thing that appeared to be working was my relationship with my boyfriend, who kept assuring me that my life would turn out OK. When I got the assignment to write the story about True Love Waits, there was a little glimmer of light. Maybe it was possible to make a living working for a magazine. Maybe I would not have to climb a ladder to get into bed for the rest of my life, or smell a litter box while I cooked my dinner. Maybe my boyfriend was right.
I hadn’t thought about True Love Waits for years, until I read “You Can’t Hurry Love,” in our February issue. The story—which profiles four couples who married late in life—has nothing to do with abstinence or teenagers, although both the campaign and the couples in our story are motivated by a kind of faith. Take Terry Britton, for example. Terry met his wife, Emilie Danielson, when they were college freshmen, in 1960…and remained a bachelor until he married
Emilie in 2012. At age 69. Despite having been proposed to by three girlfriends over the course of his life. “I’d never wanted to marry any other woman,” he told writer Stephanie Booth. What Terry had was a prevailing belief that Emilie in 1960 would be the same Emilie in 2012. And a faith in his own feelings.
Reading the stories in “You Can’t Hurry Love” made me look back on my life with the boyfriend who told me in the Decade of Darkness that everything was going to be OK. We’ve now been married for 22 years. In that time, I have annoyed him, enraged him, disappointed him, and made him patiently feign interest as I told the same stories over and over. Simply put, we are a fairly average married couple. Some days the true love feels more immediate than others. But the faith is always there.