Many waters cannot quench love: rivers cannot wash it away (Song of Solomon 8:7). 

A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love. -Pearl S. Buck

He opened his Christmas gifts first, then dancing with anticipation handed me my present. The gift bag was securely closed with a ridge of scotch-tape, evidence of his own hand in this artful presentation. I exercised all the pre-opening rituals: gently stroking the outside, carefully shaking it near the ear, and complimenting the packaging, as well as the obligatory, “Thank you, Honey.” I even ventured a few guesses. 

“Jewelry?”

“No.”

“Well, judging by the shape, it’s probably not candy.”

“You’re right. It’s not candy.”

“Pajamas! Silk, right?” 

“No. It’s not pajamas, but you’re getting closer. Go ahead. Open it.”

In an instant, I popped the row of scotch tape and looked inside the satiny red wrapping bag. I froze in disbelief as I stared at what my husband deemed the perfect gift—A SHOWER MASSAGE! I was thoroughly convinced the romance was more than dead. It was beyond resuscitation. In fact, it was stone cold. 

What more should I expect? After all, we’ve been married over twenty-five years. Can romance exist after fifty?  

Yes! Romance needn’t die just because our hair had turned gray and our body dimensions had expanded. Didn’t he see me as attractive anymore? 

“For me?” I feigned pleasure.

“Well, it’s really for the both of us. That’s why I spent a little extra.”

Since we bought a video camera as a mutual Christmas present to each other, we set a personal gift limit of $25. He went over the top to $30. 

 “You shouldn’t have,” I said honestly.

“I know you said you wanted jewelry. Surprised?”

“Oh, yes. I’m speechless!”

At some point over the past couple decades, the Prince Charming I married went through a metamorphosis. So much so, I dreaded the future. Can I really stand twenty-five more years of this? The handsome suitor who used to buy me Russell Stover Chocolates had now emerged an aged athlete peddling Mr. Coffee. When had practicality replaced sentimentality? I wanted to tell Joe DiMaggio to take a hike, find my misplaced fairy godmother, and tell her to bring back Prince Charming.

Storybook romances for the middle aged did not exist. Who was I kidding? God, I prayed silently, help me remember why I’m still married to this man. Are we together because divorce is a sin, or is there something more?

Joe DiMaggio was waiting for my reaction. I muttered a half-hearted, “Gee. Thank you.”    

“Pour yourself another cup of coffee and relax while I get the shower massage ready for you.” He took the monstrosity from the bag; and with his toolbox in hand, bounded up the steps like a schoolboy at recess.

The sounds of contented whistling could be heard down stairs while I stared into my coffee hoping to find some definition of middle-aged wedded bliss. I stewed in my disappointment. “A shower massage. Ump!” I felt like Grumpy while he played the part of Happy. 

  “All set,” he beamed. “You first! After all, it is your present.”

“That it is.” I trudged to the upstairs bathroom, took off my robe, and stepped into the wide spread spray. To my pleasant surprise, the steamy mist enveloped my senses. I felt as if I had just entered a sauna.