Simple Secrets to Long-Lasting Marriages


Ray and Mary Lee of Wesley Homes Lea Hill celebrated their sixtieth anniversary in June 2012 with over 50 guests. They insist that the secrets of their long-lasting marriage aren’t all that secret. “We’re very helpful with each other,” said Mary, seriously contemplating her answer. “She does a good job of it!” said Ray as he smiled at his wife, which brought a big smile to Mary’s face. The couple met in Pullman, WA, at an exchange dinner dance. “It was love at first sight,” said Ray. The women and men were lined up by height at the dance. “I was the second in the women’s line because I wasn’t the shortest,” said Mary. “I tried to switch places with the girl that was first so I could dance with Ray, but she wouldn’t do it. She wanted to dance with him!” Ray and Mary eventually made their way into each other’s arms so they could dance the rest of the night with one another. They were married after three years. By the way, Ray doesn’t consider himself romantic. Yes, the couple makes a big deal of each other’s anniversaries and birthdays with cards and dinner, including a cupcake with a candle at Anthony’s Homeport in Des Moines. Yes, the couple has traveled a lot, including Hawaii and Norway to visit his family. Yes, Ray is helpful around the house and has purchased flowers and a bit of jewelry for Mary. But what does he consider to be the most romantic thing he has ever done for Mary? “I married her!” chuckled Ray, and the couple laughed in unison again.   It’s been 62 years since Paul and Joanne Marr of Wesley Homes Des Moines said “I do.” The Marrs have never been big at exchanging presents. They’d known each other three months before they wed. That’s not a long time, but “It was love at first sight, and we went into this for the long haul,” said Paul. To this commitment to their marriage, Joanne added, “In an argument, we’d never use a word we couldn’t take back.” The Marrs have always stood behind one another. They agree that it’s important to have a partner you can depend on because it makes it so much easier to be together. And of course, you have to marry the right person. Joanne met Paul during a trip to Alaska. Paul was stationed there and had seen Joanne get off the boat with Joanne’s friend, whom he knew slightly. He was immediately smitten. When the girls saw Paul in a store and noticed he had a car, Joanne’s friend made sure the girls were on Paul’s radar. Back then, there weren’t a lot of cars in that little Alaskan town, and the girls needed transportation! “I let them use my car, and Joanne’s been paying for that for 62 years,” teased Paul. The summer after they got married, Paul quit smoking. Why? Because Joanne asked him. “Before I do something, even after all this time, I ask myself what Joanne would think,” said Paul. For Joanne, Paul’s thoughtfulness touches her heart. “When I had breast cancer in the 1980s, Paul took up the housework. To this day, he still does the vacuuming,” she said.     “I give her everything she wants, so she sticks around,” joked Wesley Homes Des Moines resident Loyal Reynolds of his wife of 72 years, Grace. “We’re best friends,” said Grace. “We look out for each other.” Loyal and Grace met at a dance and married three and a half years later. Though Loyal was at sea in the Navy and gone a lot on short trips for work, he and Grace kept busy. Loyal built three houses for the two of them and their four children. They enjoyed square dancing and sailing on boats that Loyal built, including a 53’ boat he built from the hull up. He also invented a hot water baseboard heater that doesn’t need external plumbing. Through the years, Grace remembers, “We never had a really bad fight, and we didn’t go to sleep angry. That was our rule.” And what was the most romantic part of their marriage? “It was all romantic!” said Grace as she smiled at her husband.

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