Every June, “Wedding Month,” the Samarkand senior living community celebrates its residents’ anniversaries, typically recognizing 30, 40, and even 50 years of love and loyalty. This year, Samarkand recognized five couples who’ve been married for 70 or more years.
Bob and Betty Houk, Barbara and Tom Brashears, and Dolf and Margaret May have all been together 70 years. Mark and Jean Mathews are celebrating 72 years this month, and Al and Arlene Noreen, 73 years.
We asked the couples their secrets, what they did to get through the rough patches, and how their partners or relationships have changed over the decades. Here’s what three of the couples said.
Our Secret: Mutual beliefs and shared value systems. Our willingness to talk and compromise. Loving each other and having faith in God.
Getting Through Hard Times: Lots of discussions and compromising.
Changes: Since retirement, Tom has had more time to invest in family relationships. Barbara is still the same beautiful lady.
Our Secret: Similar family cultures. Similar interests and values. Flexibility in choosing separate interests. Facing challenges together, especially in the early years.
Getting Through Hard Times: Willingness to listen to one another. Support from parents and close friends. Good health and good luck.
Changes: We’ve grown together and become more sensitive and open.
Our Secret: We did not try to change each other into what the other perceived as a perfect partner. We built on the gifts or strengths of the other. Al is very appreciative of classical music. Arlene enjoys cooking, dance, painting, and gardening. We developed common interests and appreciation in these areas, which we could share. Al was the principal earner for the family, but provision was always made for Arlene to have a separate bank account. This financial independence was valuable to marriage tranquility.
Changes: Al was a vigorous, disciplined participant in many groups, often becoming a leader. Arlene, in early life, was shy and desirous of not competing in society. After a long marriage, Arlene is now more outgoing, more readily mixing in social gatherings. Al has changed in that he is touching and endearing. He is constantly looking to make sure Arlene is safe at crossroads and grade separations. We still rely on intimacy to keep our lives glowing with love.