- They raised 5 children together: Today bringing up baby is a team effort more so than it was in the 1940s. Gender roles were quite clear on who would clean the house and care for the kids and who would fund the entire project. The societal infrastructure supported the model it promoted – making it much easier for each half of the couple to pursue the established role without a fight.
- She was 17 and he was 19: Young marriage today is looked down upon. Maybe it was then? (Anyone who was around should let us know.) Trying to imagine a 17 and 19 year old making a marriage work today is difficult at best. What about school? What about all of those hopes, dreams, and parental expectations? The average age for marriage today is 27 years for women and 29 years for men. By the age of 27, Ann and John had already survived the 7 year itch and the birth of several children. Today’s young adults are encouraged to “find themselves” in their twenties and settle down later. Is this good advice if you want to be married once and only once? Maybe – maybe not – no one really knows since this is the first generation to try this out.
- John says the recipe for a happy marriage is, “Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive each other. Live accordingly.” Sage advice. Sweet advice. It still seems to be the day-to-day problems that cause the rift that leads to divorce. And the day-to-day problems seem to be bigger since everyone is busier, more obligated, and more connected than they were even a few decades ago. It’s hard to not hold a grudge when a good man sits down after dinner to relax and watch t.v. (or surf the web) while his wife is cleaning up the dinner, caring for the kids, helping with the homework, and getting kids to bed. Men haven’t seemed to have kept up with the changing times. Yes, there are exceptions. Some men do work to care for home and hearth alongside their wives, but many do not. They haven’t figured out that private realm work (e.g., kids, housework, etc.) is an all day job. Only the public realm work ends at 5 p.m. Would John have been the dad who didn’t just “help” around the house but actually saw it as his responsibility?
- "The key is to always agree with your wife." No woman would disagree with this advice from John. Especially if the advice to the wife is to listen to and acquiesce to the wishes of your husband. Marriage is still a give and take proposition and the more shared values a couple already possesses will mean less arguing over conflicting values. It seems like obvious advice but, really, a lot of people with extremely diverse values marry today and wonder why they are constantly arguing about what matters the most to them.
- He’s 102 and she’s 98. If you want to be America’s longest married couple, you need to marry young and forget to die. This takes concerted luck. Not effort, really, but being nice to each other probably helps this all along nicely. Happy people live about 35% longer, so take the time to make each other laugh and make the effort to make each other happy. Is it work? Not if you’re both happy about it – but it is indeed effort.
- “We always hold hands.” Marriage in the 1930’s and marriage today seem to have this in common. Hold hands; stay connected and like each other enough that you want to hold hands. How can you get divorced when you’re holding hands?