Not an Ordinary Marriage {My Love Story}


A couple holding hands.February is the month of love, and this year it will also mark my 20th wedding anniversary. This prompted me to share my not-so-ordinary love story with the world.

Twenty years ago, I married the man of my dreams; however, it was not exactly a fairytale. It happened in another part of the world with its own mindset and culture. There is also a huge age gap; he is almost twenty years my senior. 

Our love is a story of fate, true love, and commitment.

I was twenty-one years old and fresh out of college, and he was an almost forty-year-old newly divorced college professor. We first met at a family gathering during the month of Ramadan. These were always big and loud events with my entire family present and never included an outsider except for this fateful night.

His brother was married into my family, so he tagged along. He had recently moved back to the country as a new divorcee and was lonely.

I don’t know what initially struck me about him, but I fell in love when I saw him enter the hall. There was something special about him. It felt like he had an aura around him, and it was very difficult for me to focus on anything else the entire night. I felt that he was the one!

It is safe to say that he didn’t even notice me, or so I thought. When the night ended close to midnight, I thought I would never see him again. I told myself to forget about him.

Little did I know that I would be seeing him again a week later on his 40th birthday! This time he noticed me. He was extremely charismatic, and I was very shy and quirky. (He later told me that he admired how smart and different I was that night.)

He was single with no connections to the country, so he trusted his sister-in-law to match him with someone she knew. There were a few failed attempts and suggestions (I know about this because she told everyone in the family).

One day he mentioned that I could be an option, and she mistakenly told him I was engaged. He continued to be matched with bachelorettes, and I moved on with my life figuring out my new path after graduation while also getting matched with the wrong bachelors. (Marriage was my family’s number one priority after college, so once you graduated, they started matching you.)

Months later, he still didn’t find what he was looking for, so he asked about me again and whether I was still engaged. My sister-in-law responded, “OMG, I was totally wrong; she was never engaged. I don’t know why I thought that before.”

My father then received a phone call with an official proposal. When my father called me to ask my opinion, I couldn’t believe my ears. He was telling me that I saw him before and that I knew his brother, who was married to a relative blah blah blah. I almost said “yes” immediately. I had to act cool and pretend that I needed time to think.

After pretend thinking, I gave an initial yes on the condition that I meet him first to test the chemistry between us. We sat down with a few family members (you can’t be alone with a man who proposed or any strange man for that matter in my family’s strict rule book). I remember being so nervous and shy and asking the silliest questions like, “Do you like me?” Oops, thank goodness he understood how nervous I was and didn’t take it as a red flag of how weird I was. 

Long story short, we got engaged the next day and got married four months later. He grew to love me with every day, and I loved him more the better I got to know him.

We had so much in common, and what little we didn’t share complemented each other. He was understanding and accommodating to my younger needs and even whims at times, and I felt at peace knowing that he was more experienced and mature and that I could trust him.

I kept him updated with all the younger stuff, from commonly used vocabulary my generation used to new music, places to go, and things to do. He taught me all the things I lacked, like how to speak proper English and face the world, and have confidence in myself.

There are, of course, some cons to marrying an older person, like not knowing a reference to something that existed before you were born. But age is not really that big of a deal. 

Marriage is a relationship that you enter with the intention of making it work. You don’t seek to change your partner or consistently criticize them. You accept them for who they are because you loved them in the first place. You compliment one another. 

And here we are twenty years later. I can fondly say that we have more harmony than ever and have stuck together throughout the years. We made a family together. We are one of the very few couples we know that are still married.

Not that we didn’t have our tough times, we sure did, but we overcame it all thanks to being flexible and accommodating. He doesn’t have the upper hand because he is older, and I don’t use being younger as an excuse. We are one hundred percent, equal partners. 

Although our love story is not ordinary, it is our love story. I still find him extremely attractive at sixty, and he still finds me smart, funny, and young. 

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Donia is a stay-at-home Egyptian archaeologist who majored in Egyptology. Egyptology had always been her passion since childhood. But family is her biggest passion. She lives in Mount Kisco with her husband Ayman, their daughters Dania (2005) and Mirette (2012), their cats Tiger and Drogo, and their German Shepherd Max. She is also a stepmom to two girls Nada (1991) and Malak (1995). When she is not busy taking care of her big family, she enjoys anything Sci-Fi and fantasy, watching cooking and baking competition shows, playing the drums, playing tennis with her husband, video games, and DIY projects. According to her girls, she particularly enjoys event and travel planning for her family and always goes all-out and prepares too much for an event. She is excited to join Westchester County Mom to share her experience as an expat and mom.