A few days ago my parents marked their 50th wedding anniversary. In today’s day and age that’s down right historic. It also got me thinking. What does it take to make a marriage last? And why does forever mean something different today than it did 50 years ago?

I’ll be honest. Young and idealistic, or maybe just hardheaded and ready to do it my way, I got married at 22. Headed out west on a new adventure, I wasn’t going into the unknown without a ring on my finger and honestly I had a pretty cool wedding. Both my dad and my grandfather gave me away. Never able to walk any of his daughters down the aisle because he and my grandmother were divorced, I got to be the first. And only. A little thing then, but so much more meaningful as I grew up.

Married for close to 15 years, let’s just say long marriages seem to skip a generation. While both of my grandparents remarried, my great grandparents were married for like ever – from 1927 until they passed away in the late 80’s.

So back to the question at hand. What makes marriage so different today than decades ago?  I decided to ask a few friends who chimed in good wishes for my parents, what’s the secret? Here’s what they had to say …

Love Stories 

How Do You Make It Last, Without Heading to the Train Station?

Jim Ardito & Maggie Ardito – 55 Years 

President of the St. Johns River To Sea Loop Alliance

Jim & Maggie Ardito, 1965

We met at the top of a rollercoaster during Spring Fling at the University of Denver.  It was early May 1965 and I was 18. I was finally out with a guy I’d had a crush on for months… finally got him “alone” on the rollercoaster at Lakeside Park and was feeling on top of the world. Except for the annoying guy behind us who kept pulling my hair.  Later on, on the bumper cars, that same annoying guy tried to kill me.

Days later I recognized him on the steps of the science building (where it turned out we were both math majors – I was a freshman, he a junior).  When I asked why he was being so annoying at Spring Fling, he said “I wanted to make you remember me”.   He’s from New York, I’m from Montana.  Our first date was riding on his motorcycle to Red Rocks to catch rodents for his science class.  After a while we figured out no matter what we did – no matter how crazy – we were equal partners and managed to have fun. That’s when I knew he was the right one. We were married 2 years later just before he shipped out for Vietnam.

So – secrets for “How to be happily married for 55 years”?  Here’s all I know for what it’s worth.

  1. Be lucky enough to meet the right partner very young (our daughters say “that’s cheating”).

  2. Be smart enough to know what matters most to you and what is less important – and find someone with the same priorities. We both knew we wanted fun challenging adventures, world travel, equal partnership, achieving basic financial independence (didn’t much care about wealth), and family. Neither cared about status, appearances or what other people think.

  3. Keep your priorities straight.  Never give up on whatever’s most important to you and never get hung up on what doesn’t much matter to you – no matter what other people may think. Much later I added another top priority that’s all mine; “make a lasting contribution” – but that first set of shared priorities had to come first and always will.

  4. Other than that -simply fall in love and don’t fall out.  Easy-Peasy.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  Since that wild ride in 1965 we’ve had our ups and downs: we’ve survived hard times, bitter financial struggles, tough challenging careers, raised two beautiful smart independent daughters, lived and traveled around the world, sailed the entire Caribbean in our own boat, pedaled most of Europe on our own bikes, had a lot of knock-down-drag-out battles – but we didn’t lose track of what matters most. – Maggie

Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen & Linda Hansen

50th Anniversary on February 11, 2022

Greg and Linda Hansen

What’s the secret to a long, happy marriage? Mutual love, trust, friendship and respect. Marriage is a difficult journey and it takes work. Too many quit when things go wrong and don’t stick around to work thru them. Your first instinct is to walk away, if you can get past that, and stop judging your relationship by the others around you, then you are in a better place.

There isn’t a marriage on earth that hasn’t had real problems. Nobody tells you that when you get married, so at the first sign of trouble, you think you’re in trouble, and you’re not. The emotion takes over your better judgement.

I’ve seen many marriages fail that way. If you have a problem, you work it out together. You are a team, which means you are a team professionally as well as at home.

My husband is my best friend, the love of my life, my greatest comfort and the one I trust above all else. It takes commitment and work to reach that point. – Linda

Joe & Mary Campanellie – 50th Anniversary in August


Joe and Mary Campanellie

So here’s just some random thoughts on making a marriage last a long time such as ours. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary this August and have been together since August of 1969.

I don’t know if there’s any kind of big secret to making a marriage last a long time. I credit it to two people who are willing to work hard to make it work. Two people that feel the relationship is worth working for because too many people these days take the easy way out and divorce at the first sign of differences.

For me, it was love at first sight when she picked me up on the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk during the summer of ’69. Scratched her phone number onto an empty Coca Cola can with a nickel and the rest as they say is history with three children and now 7 grandchildren all in the area. The reason we moved to Florida almost 10 years ago was because of our strong commitment to family and wanting to be a part of their lives.

As husband and wife we do everything together and as a lot of our friends remark we are pretty much inseparable. Some think that’s a bad thing but we enjoy each other’s company whether it’s taking long walks on the beach, going to the grocery store, or hanging out with the grandchildren. We just like being together.

We never married to change each other. We accepted each other as we are…complete with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This carried over into our photography business that we ran in Maryland for some 30 years together too. We worked with each other every day. Not because we had to…but because we enjoyed it and it has just felt right for us all these years.

We also had some pretty good examples within our own families. On both sides, our parents and grandparents were married many, many years.

So the big secret…find someone you can love and who loves you. Someone who you can always put their needs above yours, someone your are passionate about and who you can see yourself spending the rest of your life with. Someone who you have complete and honest respect for. Just as the vows were stated…through the good times and the bad. – Joe

John & Terry Williams – 49 Years 

Flagler County Tobacco Program Manager, Tobacco Free Flagler 

Terry and John Williams

Most important is to stay completely committed. It is not a race, it is a road-trip, a journey. Never put your mate down in public. Communication is so important, (he can’t read your mind). Love the special moments and treasure the little things! I always thought marriage is forever so he is stuck with me. The Lord is the center of our marriage. – Terry

Jim & Kathie Barry – 42 Years in June 2022

Flagler Film Festival Founders

Jim & Kathie Barry

The short story is we met at Jimmy’s father’s cousin’s restaurant. The cousin was a former engineer for Grumman Aerospace and was part of the team that designed the LEM which Neil Armstrong used to land on the moon! But he decided to retire and open a restaurant and Jimmy and I both ended up working there. Jimmy had just gotten off active duty from the US Navy (where he was a cook) and helped his cousin with the opening of the restaurant. So we worked together that summer in 1974. It was fun (and a lot of work) helping to launch a new restaurant.

I think for us it comes down to knowing how to compromise when we disagree on something. Communication is very important and being able to empathize. Also, being supportive with each other is key. So I guess I don’t think we have a secret trick, but just some ideas about what has worked for us over the years. – Kathie

Dave & Pat Block – 57 Years

Pirates & More

Pat and Dave Block

We’ve been married 57 years. Met on a blind date 9/10/1963 arranged by his brother. Secret ummm compromise, kindness and respect to each other, and everyday day Dave wakes up and first thing in the morning says “I’m sorry “. – Pat

Greg & Jacqui Davis – 35 Years in May

Retired Business Executives, President Flagler Tiger Bay Club

Jacqui and Greg Davis

I am not sure if I should answer the question by myself.  Maybe that is one secret.  This is what I told my son and son in-law when they asked that question. “You get three no’s a year.  Use them wisely. When they come to me grumbling about some decision they are about to make, I just ask them if that is worth one of their no’s”.

My wife is my best friend and my partner.  Every day I try to do something for her that makes her happy and she does the same for me. – Greg

Featured Image: Yellowstone

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