Image courtesy of Bob and Beryl, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
If you can stay married for 60-plus years, you must be doing something right. We talked to six couples that made it to their diamond anniversary—and beyond!—to find out what makes a marriage work and how to get through hard times.
Cecil and Loreen of Ontario, married for 65 years
Image courtesy of Cecil and Loreen, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
Cecil and Loreen first met at a train station back in 1949. For Loreen, it wasn't love at first sight.
"I thought that he was an older man because he hadn't shaved," she says. "So I didn't pay much attention to him."
Cecil on the other hand, noticed Loreen right away. "I thought she was a pretty classy lady right from the start," he says.
To Cecil's luck, he ran into Loreen again while on the bus, and there he decided to take a chance and strike up a conversation. The duo hit it off, and they were married in less than a year.
Now, six kids, eight grandkids and two great grandkids later, Cecil, 91, and Loreen, 93, credit each other for the closeness of their family and the success of their almost 66 year long marriage. Loreen points out Cecil's strong, steady personality and Cecil emphasizes his wife's great sense of humour while reflecting on their many years together.
"We never expected we'd live this long," says Cecil. "We're just thankful for every day, and we just look at it as a gift."
Cecil and Loreen's relationship advice:
"Do a little more than what is expected of you… for the other person. That's what you call being in love."
Charles and Sheila of British Columbia, married for 62 years
Image courtesy of Charles and Sheila, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
Charles and Sheila got to know one another while participating in their church's youth group. Although they enjoyed spending time with everyone in the group, they often found themselves breaking off from the others to spend time with each other.
"We fell in love," says Sheila. "We had a lot of the same interests, same goals."
Some of the those mutual interests and goals included serving the church, spending time together—Charles says that has been the best part of being married—and having a big family.
Charles, 88, and Sheila, 83, now have five children, 17 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, and have been together for almost 63 years now. During all that time, Charles insists that the two have never had a serious argument.
Charles and Sheila's advice:
"Communicate. Don't let something fester. Bring it out and discuss it."
Bob and Beryl of Alberta, married for 70 years
Image courtesy of Bob and Beryl, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
Bob and Beryl were both in Australia in December of 1943—Beryl was born and raised in the country while Bob, who is Dutch but was an army officer for the U.S.A., was there for work. One night, they were both invited to a party that was thrown for the visiting men of the military academy. Beryl accepted the invite, but had no intentions of finding love there.
"I thought, hmm, who's the oldest here? He'll be married and he won't be any trouble," says Beryl. "But somebody else grabbed onto me first. … He had two left feet, and he still has."
After that night, Bob and Beryl got to know each other through letters, as Bob was constantly travelling for work. The two eventually got married in 1945, and Bob, who is now 97, and Beryl, who is now 92, are looking forward to their 71st wedding anniversary in September.
Beryl says that their amazing senses of humour—her brand is "peculiar" Australian and his is "dry" Dutch—have played a big role in their lifelong love. "We still insult one another, even at the age of 97 and 92," says Beryl.
Bob and Beryl's relationship advice:
"Learn to relax and not take anything very seriously."
George and Dorothy of British Columbia, married for 60 years
Image courtesy of George and Dorothy, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
There was a mutual interest when Dorothy and George met in September of 1955—during their first exchange, Dorothy asked George to light her cigarette.
"I thought he was a very handsome looking man," says Dorothy.
"I never thought of it as love at first sight, but there was certainly a strong interest at first sight," adds George.
After their first meeting they were both busy with their respective careers—George was in the agricultural and forestry field and Dorothy was a nurse—but they managed to make time for each other on the weekends. Although they had limited time together, in just over two months they each knew that they had found their life partner, and they were engaged in December of 1955.
Over the course of their marriage, George and Dorothy proceeded to pursue their own careers and separate hobbies. Although their pastimes rarely overlap—Dorothy has always been involved in music while George enjoys shooting sports and is active in fraternities and other service organizations—they say this quality is one of the reasons why their almost 61 year long marriage works. And although they may not do everything together, they both agree that there's no one they'd rather turn to for comfort or advice.
George and Dorothy's relationship advice:
"Keep your own interests. You don't have to give up everything. You still have to have some independence."
Tom and Lillian of Ontario, married for 73 years
Image courtesy of Tom and Lillian, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
Tom first saw Lillian at a dancehall in London, Ontario in 1941. Both he and his friend noticed her from across the room.
"[Tom's friend] said he was gonna have a dance with me," says Lillian. "Tom said, okay, you go one way and I'll go the other, and he beat him by about two steps."
Lillian knew that there was something special about Tom, because for some reason, he was the only boy whom her father ever took a liking to.
The two married in 1943 and shortly after, Tom went overseas to fight for Canada during World War 2. It was a tough start to the marriage, but 73 years later, Lillian says their marriage has been filled with lots of great memories. And with all their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids living close by, Tom, 96, and Lillian, 94, are able to continue making more memories with their growing family.
Tom and Lillian's advice:
"Never go to bed mad."
Walter and Agnes of British Columbia, married for 63 years
Image courtesy of Walter and Agnes, illustration by Alexandra Tanner
Walter and Agnes immigrated to British Columbia from Europe in 1949 and 1950, respectively. One day Agnes, who did not yet know how to speak English, was asking around, looking for a German-speaking church that she could attend on Sundays. While looking, she ran into Walter who was excited to invite her to his parish, the German Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Reflecting on the first time he saw his wife, Walter says he liked her from the start.
"She was a very beautiful girl," he says, causing Agnes to giggle.
The two would go on to spend lots of time together and eventually fall in love. Early financial struggles and having to navigate a new country and language made things tough, but the couple considers themselves to be very blessed. They say that finding each other was their destiny, and doing so in "the best country in the world" has made their life that much more special.
Today, Walter is 88 and Agnes is 82—and they still attend Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Walter and Agnes' relationship advice:
"Make decisions together."