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Lessons in love

A picture of Maurice and Margaret, an older couple

Maurice and Margaret

They've been married for 62 years and remain devoted to one another. Here, the couple explain to Age UK how they met, first impressions, and secrets to the success of their relationship.

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Maurice and Margaret met as teenagers and are now in their seventh decade together. And while they don’t claim to be experts on matters of the heart, their fascinating insights into their relationship could teach us all a thing or two.

But this business of love is an action — it’s a verb — and we were determined that’s what we were going to do.

Maurice

The moment they met

Maurice and Margaret met at a Sunday night youth club in 1955. Both admit it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, though. “I didn’t really care for her much — she was a bit stuck up,” says Maurice of Margaret, who belonged to another youth club.

“And I looked at him and thought he was a bit rough,” laughs Margaret. “A bit full of himself.”

Despite less than sparkling initial impressions, there was a thawing of relations over time. And then, on a beautiful summer’s day, cancelled plans with friends turned into an impromptu trip to the cinema to see Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in the musical film Young At Heart.

A slow walk to the bus stop afterwards and the promise of meeting again saw love blossom.

We’ve argued and shouted at each other, but we’ve also learned to ask forgiveness of each other when we’ve got things wrong.

Margaret

The ultimate commitment

The following February, Maurice went into the army for two years, as Britain became involved in the Suez Crisis in Egypt. The young couple communicated via letters during that period, while Margaret kept in close touch with Maurice’s parents and brother. When Maurice was given six weeks leave to come home, the couple got engaged.

On 1 August 1959, they tied the knot. They’ve been married for 62 years.

So, what do they put the longevity of their union down to?

“The first thing to say is that we were both committed Christians,” explains Margaret. “It was therefore a case of making a commitment to one another, come what may. And back in the 1950s, divorce really wasn’t a common occurrence.”

(Much was different then, in fact; the couple’s first house cost them £1,500, which sounds like a steal but was a princely sum at the time. “Oh it nearly killed us to buy it,” laughs Margaret.)

“We love each other,” says Maurice of the reason they’ve “stuck it” for all these years, having had two children (and becoming proud grandparents to four grandchldren). “We both decided before our wedding day that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. There was desire there, of course, because I wanted her, and she wanted me. But this business of love is an action — it’s a verb — and we were determined that’s what we were going to do. An important element in all this are the common courtesies. If Margaret does anything for me, no matter how small, I always remember to say, ‘thank you’.”

I’m not just lucky — I’m blessed.

Maurice

Advice on amore

Maurice and Margaret are quick to clarify that they’re not experts in relationships, other than their own, which they’ve made their specialist subject. Early on, they went on a marriage course through their church, called Marriage Encounter, on which they learned how to communicate with one another more effectively. “One of the things that causes a lot of marriages to break down is that people stop talking and listening to each other,” says Margaret.

“One of the most important aspects is not taking each other for granted,” says Maurice of the danger of complacency in a relationship when you’re with your significant other every minute of every day, as many will have been during the many lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re long retired so we’re together all the time, which could be a problem if you’re not on the same page as each other. But I can say, hand on heart, that whatever Margaret’s concerns are, they’re my concerns too.”

If this all sounds like the perfect pairing, then Margaret wants to clarify that it’s one born from hard work on the part of both parties, as well as more than a few missteps.

“We’ve made mistakes,” admits Margaret. “We’ve argued and shouted at each other, but we’ve also learned to ask forgiveness of each other when we’ve got things wrong — and we’ve never fallen out of love. On our wedding day we got a little plaque that hangs on our wall that says: ‘Love, honour, and negotiate’.”

So, what do they miss most about one another during the rare times that they’re apart? “I miss his presence,” says Margaret of Maurice. “That feeling of knowing that he’s there.”

“I miss how tender she is,” says Maurice of his wife. “I’m not just lucky — I’m blessed.”

Relationships and family

As you get older your relationships carry more meaning. This section features helpful information on dating in later life to tips for grandparents.

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Last updated: Feb 14 2022

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