What is it about that thing called love that we just can’t get enough of? Whatever it is, these three couples have it. In grand total, their unions amount to more than 170 years of marital bliss. (OK — they all admit they’ve shared a few not-so-perfect moments, too.) Valentine’s Day is here, but take our panelists’ advice; all that chocolate-buying and flower-sending can wait. As it turns out, the heart of true love runs a bit deeper. Read on for their words of wisdom.
The couple: University Park residents Shirley and Buddy Macatee
Wedding date: Sept. 4, 1954
How they met: Things began early in January of 1954, when the two were paired for the Hesitation Club’s annual ball. After the dance, Buddy landed a kiss underneath the one-bulb light of Shirley’s back porch. Instinctively, “I felt that my time had come to an end,” Buddy recalled. Post-kiss, he impressed avid-golfer Shirley by “sinking putts from all distances” and writing love letters while she spent the summer working as a camp counselor. Back in Dallas, they made a quick thing of their engagement, and were married by September.
What they wish they knew then: The “content” of marriage — the solemnity of the vows, the fact that marriage equates taking a leap into the unknown, and that love plays the smallest part of all in the life-long pursuit of one’s partner.
Greatest discovery in marriage: “As our lives together began, I would come to know through thick and thin of conjugal life the wisdom of the female through the doggedness of my lovely bride, Shirley, that becoming as one had little to do with joining at the hip or plastic surgery,” Buddy mused. “It had to do with discovering one’s self through serious interacting with the other, all the highs and lows of love and anger that can destroy as well as meld.”
Their best advice: Talking and listening inclines two lives to jell — as do moments of “blessed quiet between two people so comfortable together that they can know what the other is thinking.”
The couple: Caruth Hills residents Claudette and Bill Ballard
Wedding date: June 22, 1957 — The date was specifically selected to represent the couple’s ages (they were both 22) at the time.
How they met: Although Bill and Claudette had several mutual friends (and she’d watched him from afar at more than a few basketball games), the two didn’t formally meet until attending a dance at a place named Lou Ann’s on Lovers Lane … where they both arrived on someone else’s arm. Still, sparks flew, and soon Bill was asking Claudette for their first date on the driveway outside a party hosted by the University Park mayor. “We’re so corny in our wedding rings,” Claudette said. “It says from D to E: driveway to eternity.”
How they “knew”: “We just like to hang out with each other, you know — we enjoy each other’s company all the time,” Bill said. At the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, Bill put it this way: “Every time I was away from her, I wanted to be with her. And that told me a lot. Since I’ve been with her, that hasn’t changed.”
One reason why they work: “In some marriages, handling finances seems a problem. We never had any to spare, so Bill was happy for me to handle making ends meet,” Claudette said. “Also being able to apologize — even when you were right — and go more than halfway will keep peace in a marriage.”
Their best advice: After God, put each other first — be considerate, patient, caring, and sincere about each other’s feelings. Work hard to never be hurtful in speech or actions.
The couple: North Dallas residents Frieda and Max Glauben
Wedding date: June 14, 1953
How they met: A survivor of the Holocaust, Max came to America in 1947 after being liberated while on a death march to Dachau. After being drafted into the United States Army, Max was stationed in Fort Hood, where he met Frieda at a friend’s house. They hit it off while bowling on a group date, so Max and Frieda began seeing each other regularly. And then they didn’t. And then they did again. “I have a theory that it was just meant to be,” Frieda said of the couple’s on-and-off courtship. “And he’s a good man, and you can’t ask for better — I feel like I got the best of anybody’s draw.”
The most rewarding thing about marriage: Having children, raising them, and having grandchildren. Said Frieda: “If I’d known grandkids were so good, I would have had them first.”
How to make it “stick”: “Begin with a permanent attitude, not ‘if it doesn’t work, one can get a divorce’ — not an option,” Max advised.
Tricks of the trade: After 60 years together, Frieda has her husband’s ins-and-outs down pat — from the amount of cream he takes in his coffee to his preference for homemade cookies and pastries that are more crispy than chewy.
Their best advice: Be honest with one another. Respect one another. Plan things jointly, and try keeping a family unit with respect and appreciation for one another.