Years Married: 49 as of June 3, 2015. Next year we’ll be officially old! At least we used to think people were old when they celebrated their 50th. Our perspective has changed somewhat!
Location: Shelby, Montana (Jerry grew up in Canada, Carol in Idaho)
Kids: We have 6 children. Four sons and two daughters, and now that many in-law children as well. We also have 23 grandchildren, with one on the way, and 1 great-grandchild.
Occupations: We are retired, but we still run our own lawn business. We have a contract with the LDS church to do nine buildings, and that requires us to travel nearly 600 miles a week! When we began, we were doing seventeen church properties a week, working four and a half days a week, and traveling over 1100 miles every week, but we have been downsizing a little each year over the past three years. We enjoy the work, but due to age and a few health concerns, this will likely be our last year. Before that, Jerry was the Parks and Recreation Director for Shelby, as well as a bus driver for the Shelby School District. Carol was a stay-at-home mom until the kids were all in school, and then she was a substitute teacher, and later a bus driver as well.
Hobbies/Interests: We love spending time with our family when we can. We also enjoy movies (when there are any decent ones to see!), and going out to eat. We used to do a lot of camping, but not now. We also enjoy concerts, etc. when something good comes to Great Falls. Carol likes to quilt and knit, and Jerry watches lots of old westerns. When we travel I (Carol) read while Jerry does most of the driving, because there’s lots of miles between everywhere in Montana, and the reading makes them go by faster. I'm the “book on tape,” and we’ve enjoyed many books this way.
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Jerry - Cookies N' Cream or Vanilla with various toppings; Carol - Some sort of cheesecake flavor... but both of us really like a coconut ice cream we’ve found at a couple of little stores in Montana!
Q. What are some of the little things you do for each other to express your love and appreciation?
C: Jerry often buys little gifts or treats for me. Just things like my favorite pink grapefruit drink, or something like that. He’s also very good to compliment me, even when I don’t feel like I deserve it. He’ll also randomly bring flowers home from the store – not for a special occasion. He also helps with the dishes and laundry and other “household chores” now that it’s just the two of us.
J: I love that she cooks my favorite foods and keeps the house clean.
C: I think I must need to improve in this area! I couldn’t think of anything I do for Jerry!
Q. What are your top three tips for a healthy sexual relationship?
J: Well at our age, it’s pretty much a sense of humor!
C: In earlier days I guess it was being sensitive to each others needs, being understanding, and realizing the goose needs to be aware the gander wanted her for more than just nesting, and raising the goslings!
Q. What wisdom can you share about how to handle money in marriage?
J: When you are young, know that some things take time. You can’t necessarily expect to have everything your parents have in the first year of your marriage. Recognize the difference between “wants,” and “needs."
C: Resist impulse spending, especially on larger purchases. Give yourself time to decide if it’s really a good idea. Pay yourself every month, even it’s a small amount. Resist unneeded debt.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
C: Well, I do have to tell you we had a good laugh on this past anniversary. We had to work that day – our day that we drive three hours from home just to begin. So at lunch time we were fueling up in a small town, and bought corn dogs for lunch from the C store! Really celebrated! We’ve enjoyed some fun dates, but my first favorite was for our 10th anniversary. We went to Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada), where we went to dinner, a movie, and stayed at a nice hotel. As we had several small children by then, it was a real treat for me to get away. (I actually spent as much time in the bathroom as I wanted to without someone knocking on the door!)
J: Recently we went to see our favorite comedian, Brian Regan, and enjoyed laughing for nearly two hours.
Q. What is the best marriage advice you have ever received?
J: You can’t go 50/50. You must each go 100%. Keep private things private.
C: I remember being told once that you shouldn’t share frustrations and quarrels with a friend, because the friend may still be upset at your spouse long after the two of you have figured things out, and made up. However, the best advice I ever received was, “Don’t say everything you think. Saying 'I’m sorry,' a hundred times won’t completely erase the effect of hurtful words.”
Q. What have you learned about nurturing your marriage through the transitions of life?
C: Hang in there! Turn TO one another, not AWAY from each other. We are firm believers that we would have been amazed to know what we could make it through, had we been able to see into the future. There are obviously situations we would not have chosen to deal with, but we were given the strength to succeed. Our faith was a huge factor, as well as a determination in having our marriage endure.
J: Even during those times when you don’t really LIKE each other, remember that you LOVE each other, and can figure it out. As we look back, it feels like we’ve lived several different lives: our early life with just the two of us; our years that were so busy with lots of little people; the next segment when our children began leaving home; and the life we have now with just the two of us, and our family scattered at varying distances.
Q. What are two suggestions to help couples improve their communication?
J: Listen more than you talk.
C: Being a talker, I say, “Talk!”
J: Really listen.
C: You also need to express yourself, and not require your mate to guess what’s bothering you. Using both of those angles should help couples be successful.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
J&C: Not getting divorced! Unselfishness is pretty much the key. And going into marriage with the idea that it’s ideally forever. Marriage requires two forgiving people. Also, the older we get the more we realize how much we like "us," being together. The thought of being alone at some time is not a pleasant one, and it helps us appreciate our marriage even more.
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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