We Asked For Love Advice From Couples Married For More Than 50 Years
We wanted to find the secret to a long and happy marriage, so we asked the experts.
For this Valentine's Day, BuzzFeed met people who have been married for more than 50 years to discuss love and hear their advice for young people.
Jack and Mina, together for 58 years
Jack first met Mina when he visited her and her sister. “He came into my bedroom with a friend,” she says, laughing. At the time Mina was working for a hospital and sharing a room with her sister, who was friendly with Jack's friend. On their first date they went to a fairground, where they took their very first photo together: a small black-and-white portrait (above) of the two of them squeezed into a photo booth.
Mina shows me a little white bear, small enough to fit into her hand, that Jack brought back from Amsterdam. It was the first thing he bought for Mina and still makes her laugh every time she sees it – she likes to collect small things.
When asked the secret to a long and successful marriage, they say mutual respect, give and take, and learning to share the things you have. “When he has meat and I have fish," Mina says, "I get half of his meat and he gets half of my fish."
But the true secret to their marriage was...cheesecake, Jack says. When he worked in a bakery he found out it was Mina's favourite dessert, and he would bring it back for her as a treat.
“Yeah,” Mina laughs, “I always loved cheesecake but when I was out with my friends we only had enough money to buy coffee and when we had cheesecake it was quite an expense. When I got with him, I could have all the cheesecake I wanted.”
Mina says it is very important to joke and laugh with your partner. When Jack says he loves that Mina is very honest and very clever, she says, “I make him laugh."
"Oh yes, she is very funny,” Jack agrees.
Eryk and Olive, together for 68 years
Eryk and Olive met at Cricklewood railway station. Olive says: “At Cricklewood, during the war, they had dancing upstairs – I was a mad ballroom dancer – and roller skating downstairs, and he went to roller skating. He was stationed in the Polish army (but was a British citizen) and he was with his friend stationed in Bournewood, and I was living at Bournewood, so we were on the platform and Eryk and his friend followed us on to the same carriage. That was how I met him."
The next time they saw each other was at a dance. Eryk wasn't dancing but every time he walked past Olive he would wink at her. That was when they started to get together. “We would go to the pictures,” Olive says.
Olive tells me her marriage advice: “Don't break up after your first argument. You do have difference of opinion, but don't break up just over that. That's silly, because you could be ruining a good relationship. You’ve got to accept that everyone has a difference in opinion. People break up too easily these days."
Although Eryk's dementia has taken away most of his memory, when he looks at Olive it's with trust. “He says every night ‘I love you’, and that's nice after many years," she says.
She concludes: “Give and take, and if you have a disagreement, don't let it last a long time, you know, just forget it.”
Morris and Betty, together for 69 years
Morris and Betty met at a Christmas party in 1947. Morris was friendly with Betty’s niece, who was older than Betty.
Their first date was a dance at the Astoria Theatre on Oxford Street and Charing Cross road. “It was a jive at that time," Morris says, "before rock 'n' roll, and it was a lot of ballroom dancing. I was just home for the weekend and I saw her home and then I caught the train back to camp.
"I used to come home on the weekends to see Betty and go to the Astoria on a Sunday night and then go back to camp on the midnight train.”
Morris and Betty got married two years after they met, when Betty was 19 and Morris was 21.
Morris's advice for young couples is to stick together and not break up just because you have an argument. "People say ‘never argue’ but the thing is, if you have an argument, you get over it. These days I think people have an argument and imminently what comes to mind is, ‘We're gonna get a divorce.'
"You have an argument but after a while you start speaking again. Just because you have an argument, you don't [need to] just break up, because you get over it. You get on living your life together.
“Your wife is just part of your life, and I'm afraid times aren't like that today.”
Ellen and Brendan, together for 58 years
Ellen and Brendan have been married since 1958. When they were younger, they were both very into horse racing, and Ellen would also ride horses. They met at a race meeting one weekend.
Their first date wasn't the sort you would think of as a typical "date": “Oh yes, I remember," Ellen says. "[Brendan and I] were coming back in the horsebox, and the man who was driving had taken one or two too many, so I said, ‘Stop the car, I’ll get out the back, I’ll get out, I'm going to walk,' and he said, ‘Well, you walk then.’
"About 10 miles later, Brendan said to the driver, ‘We better go back and get her.' That was the first date. It just happened, it just happened.”
From then on they would saw each other at horse races. They were also both interested in rugby and bonded over weekend games.
They spent a lot of time travelling. “Oh, we went everywhere together,” Ellen tells me. “The only country we haven't been is South Africa. We’ve been everywhere else. We’ve been to Australia to see the Reverend cup and the rugby. We have a daughter in America and we used to go see her."
Ellen strongly believes that the key to a long and successful marriage is to be patient with one another and persevere. Brendan adds, “It depends on whether they get on together or not – that's the main thing.”
Daphne and Panayiotis, together for 50 years
Daphne met Panayiotis when she was very young and they got married shortly afterwards. “I was at teacher training college at the time and he was at the local polytechnic college, and because the teacher training school was all-female at the time we invited the young men from the polytechnic for dances. And you know, I danced with several very nice young men, but this one I thought, ‘Wow!’"
Daphne says she misses her husband, who has passed away, every day. She has one piece of advice she feels very strongly about: “Never go to bed upon a quarrel, and it has served me very well – us well.
"When you meet someone you feel is right for you, then accept that, but don't rush into it. Give yourself time to make sure it's right. Because if it wrong, it's not going to last.”
Rosie and Ben, together for 71 years
Rosie and Ben met at a hotel in Selsey Bill, West Sussex, when they were both in the navy. Rosie was a Wren at the hotel and responsible for checking people in and taking their names. Ben was in charge of training the men.
The first time Ben saw Rosie, he told his friends he would marry her. “I fell in love with her straightaway,” he says. She was standing under a clock, and he still remembers the exact time.
On their first date, “I took her dancing and kissing,” Ben says, but adds that the kissing was after the date. Looking at Ben with a slight smile, Rosie says, “Keep yourself happy with a very nice man, like I've got."
They have now been married for 71 years. On their 30th anniversary Ben gave Rosie a Fabergé egg that contained a model of a Wren standing under a clock that showed the exact time he first saw her.
When I ask them what they love doing together, Ben softly says, “This,” and strokes Rosie's hands while giving me a smile.