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Seasoned Spouse

Seasoned Spouse

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When I phoned my parents and told them about the new man in my life, adding that I thought this was it, the real thing, they were overjoyed. Their twenty-nine-year-old daughter was not married to her career after all. They wanted all the details, of coursehow we met, how long we had known each other, what he did for a living, was he taller than me (from my mother) and did he seem the stable sort (from my father). I answered all their questions truthfully, enthusiastically — except for the one about Elliot’s age. “He’s a few years older than me, Mom,” I lied.

In retrospect, I probably should have told them right from the start that the man I wanted to marry was fifty-five-ironically enough, my father’s age. But I knew that to tell them this over the phone would ruin the moment for us all, leaving me sad and them adrift on a sea of worry and doubt. Better that they meet Elliot in person, for I was certain that his charm, sensitivity, warmth and sophistication would win them over and dispel any doubts about their daughter’s choice of a husband.

Well, it didn’t quite go as planned. During dinner and afterward, as we sat rigidly in the living room with our coffees, there were numerous awkward silences occasionally punctuated by nervous coughs, most of them mine. The tension was almost palpable.

When they saw us to the door, Dad gave me a hug and somewhat tentatively shook Elliot’s hand. Mom, who I knew would have given my intended a kiss on the cheek and maybe even a hug had he been nearer my own age, simply extended her hand, much as she might to one of Dad’s business associates. Once we were back in Elliot’s car, as we started away from the house, he took my hand in his and said, “It’ll be all right, sweetheart. We just have to give them time.” I didn’t know what to think.

Today, a year and a half later, Elliot is proving to be something of a prophet. Slowly but surely, my folks are making this difficult adjustment. They have come to accept my decision not to have children (hence, no grandchildren for them), and if Elliot is still not the one they would have chosen for their only daughter, they now respect and even admire him for the man he is. And knowing how happy I am with Elliot certainly has helped them to come to terms with our marriage.

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