'Love is what kept us together'

Two Washington couples share stories of how they have kept their marriages strong after more than 60 years

Union photo by Gretchen Teske

Charlie and Betty Thompson were married on Oct. 6, 1956 on Betty’s family farm in Brighton. The pair have been married for 63 years.
Union photo by Gretchen Teske Charlie and Betty Thompson were married on Oct. 6, 1956 on Betty’s family farm in Brighton. The pair have been married for 63 years.

WASHINGTON — Couples who have been together more than half their lives will say that nothing about marriage is easy, but everything about it is worth it.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, two couples living at the United Presbyterian Home in Washington opened their hearts and homes to share the stories of how they met, fell in love and their best advice for continuing to love each other after more than 60 years together.

They met by accident

Insurance companies might call how Charlie and Betty Thompson met “an act of God” and according to Betty, that just might be accurate.

“I worked at an insurance office and he had been in an auto accident. He came in to report it and I took the report so I always say we met by accident,” she said with a laugh. “That’s the first time I remember knowing who he was.”

“But we didn’t start going together for a year or two after that,” Charlie added.

For their fist date he took her to a dance in Brighton, her hometown. Charlie grew up in Ainsworth.

“We danced everywhere within a 50 mile radius. We loved dancing,” she said.

The pair both belonged to a youth group through the Farm Bureau Insurance Agency, where Betty was working. They saw each other frequently in groups and were together as often as they could be, she said.

“We would all congregate and pile into cars and all go someplace to a dance or put on records and dance at the Farm Bureau building,” she said.

The couple talked about getting married and after a year of dating Charlie finally popped the question.

“He asked me to marry him on the way to a dance clear down in Stockport,” she said.

The small wedding was held on Oct. 6, 1956 at Betty’s parents’ home with just immediate family attending, she said. Everything was kept simple and meant to be a celebration of their love, not a big event.

“Our little old wedding, well it lasted didn’t it?” Betty said with a laugh.

“We’re going on 64 (years),” Charlie said proudly.

Charlie said the one thing that has kept their marriage going for so long is consideration. Betty agreed and added communication plays a large role, too.

“I think one of the most important things in a marriage is communication. If something bothers you don’t let it grow, just talk it over,” she said.

Understanding where each other is coming from and seeing both sides of the picture is key for success. Charlie said

“You have to give a little and take a little to find out what their interests are and what your interests are,” she said.

The pair love to travel and have been to 48 states but they also enjoy spending time separately. Charlie said he has a morning coffee club and Betty her own but at the end of the day, together is their favorite place to be.

Love is blind

Jim Reed was 18-years-old when his buddy set him up on a blind date that turned into a marriage of 63 years in the making.

He met his wife, Arbie, and instantly knew she was the one he said.

“When I met her I thought she was wonderful. We feel like God kept us both for each other,” he said, grinning as he rehashed the story from decades before.

“We feel like we were meant to be,” Arbie agreed.

Arbie said she was also smitten from the beginning and knew very soon Jim was the man she would spend her life with.

“He made a good impression,” she said. “He wasn’t like a lot of boys who showed off. He was real and I was very impressed with him.”

The duo dated for three years while Jim left for the service and when he returned, he took Arbie to a bridge and proposed.

“I had to make it official,” he said with a smile.

On Feb. 4, 1957, Arbie’s 20th birthday, they said I do. The pair had a large church wedding attended by many family and friends.

At the foundation of their love is their faith in God, Jim said. They pray together daily and continue to nurture their faith based relationship even after 64 years.

Looking back, they agreed faith was one of the main things that has kept them together so long but also that their relationship is built on love and forgiveness.

“(It takes) a lot of trust and a lot of forgiving,” she said. “It was love that kept us together.”

“The steps of a righteous man are ordained by God and I know for sure that we were meant to be together a long time before we met because as we look back on our lives there were too many things that were not an accident. That means a lot,” Jim agreed.