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Why I love getting older

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

At the start of a new year, when we traditionally burden ourselves with “bossy, unrealistic” resolutions, says India Knight in The Sunday Times, it’s refreshing to hear Michelle Obama talk about the “grinding slog” of marriage. For 10 years, she said in a recent TV interview, “I couldn’t stand my husband”. Specifically, when their children were young – “little kids, they’re terrorists” – and she felt Barack wasn’t pulling his weight. But “marriage isn’t 50-50, ever”, she explained – and because they stuck it out during that rocky period, rather than “give up”, they have now been married (mostly) happily for 30 years. How right she is. Marriage isn’t just “skipping about among the flowers”, just as parenting is “sometimes boring and hard”. That’s fine – it’s how normal life works. “Like a wonky carrot, it doesn’t need binning because it’s imperfect.”

Obama’s wisdom on this subject is surely born of age (she’s 58), and it encapsulates why I love getting older. As time passes, you become a person to whom more and more things have happened: “fantastic things, devastating things, joyous things, heartbreaking things”. The more life you have under your belt, “the more you see clearly” – and the more you come to understand that most things aren’t black and white. Older people know life isn’t a fairytale, but also that “it doesn’t need to be”. Sometimes just simple pleasures – a new recipe, or “a good book and a really cosy chair” – are enough to keep you happy. “Even if your beloved husband or wife does occasionally get on your wick.”