Note: As we approach Feb. 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day for all you unattached people out there), The Paper decided to ask couples who have been married for a long time their winning-formula for a long-lasting marriage.
The secret formula for staying married for many decades is “love” and “communication,” according to couples in the area.
Betty and Ray Bertrand, nearly 70 years
A couple who will be celebrating 70 years of marriage in October are residents of Heritage Woods of Dwight, Betty and Ray Bertrand.
So how did they last so long? They said the answer is simple:
“We love one another,” Betty said.
They were married in October of 1946, and both were just 18 when they tied the knot.
“We met at a roller skating rink,” she explained. Both were residents of Bourbonnais at the time.
“He asked me if I would skate. I could barely stand up with the skates on. He held me up.”
Elizabeth said he liked roller skating with her. But perhaps it was more than the skating he liked.
“We’ve loved each other all of our lives,” Ray added. “He loved me and I loved him,” Betty said.
The couple had three children, Kim age 56, Karen, who is deceased and would be 58, and Keith, now 60. They also have eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
So what sustained their love?
“He used to buy me a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day,” she said with a wry smile.
Jack and Elizabeth Jessen, nearly 55 Years
Elizabeth Jessen, who is currently staying at Heritage Health nursing home in Dwight because of a broken pelvis sustained in a fall, explained that she and her husband Jack have been working hard to maintain their love for nearly 55 years. Their anniversary is in April.
“It’s not ‘I’ it’s ‘us.’ Work as a team. You have to consider the other person. You shouldn’t make plans (for both of you) without talking to the other person,” Elizabeth advised.
“Try to get along with each other,” Jack added.
Communication skills are a major factor in their relationship, which began when the couple were both sophomores at Lincoln-Way High School.
They both said they liked the way the other looked, but it was their personalities that kept their love affair going long after their high school days.
“He was friendly with me,” she said, when Jack asked Elizabeth to a Christmas dance when they were just sophomores.
The couple spent most of their working years at Lincoln-Way High School. Jack retired after 28 years as a maintenance man at the school and she worked as a bus driver there for 33 years. They moved to Coal City after retirement. Elizabeth’s sister, Claire and her husband Butch Erdman, reside in nearby Braceville.
The couple raised four boys, Jack Jr., age 52; James, 50; Joseph, 49; and Jeremy, 47.
They also have 15 grandchildren (some are step grandchildren) and 10 great-grandchildren.
They said three of their sons got divorced, which upset the parents since the boys already had children.
“We just weren’t raised that way,” Elizabeth said. “You try to work out your problems.”
“It takes a lot of work and sweat,” said Jack, who agreed communication is part of the success formula.
“Kids today just want freedom all the time,” Jack added.