The secrets to long lasting relationships

14 February 2017

Five couples from the UK, Spain, Australia and New Zealand now living in Bupa care homes give their secrets to long lasting relationships. They believe they can give couples of all ages some simple tips for a long and happy relationship, such as being romantic all year round, not just on Valentine’s Day.

A photo of a group of people holding a photo of the queen.

John and Edith Mackay together for 71 years - Dundee, UK

John (96 years) and Edith (or Eci, 92 years) are celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together at Balcarres Care Home in Scotland, after Eci became a resident in 2015 with John joining her a year later.

The loved-up couple are keeping things relatively low key after over 70 years honouring the special day together. But John, ever the romantic, has still bought Eci several thoughtful gifts and a card.

John, a commando during the Second World War, met Hungarian Eci after his unit liberated a column of Jewish female prisoners destined for a concentration camp. After rescuing the women, the unit organised a dance in the local village hall but John, despite his heroic exploits, lacked the confidence to ask Eci to dance. While John thought it best to send a friend to ask, Eci insisted that if he wanted a dance, he must ask himself and this boldness led to the couple falling in love.

John brought Eci home to Scotland after the War, and later brought her mother to join them. The inseparable pair were married on 17 July 1946 and have been wholly dedicated to one another ever since.

John said that Valentine’s Day was not one that the couple chose to celebrate specifically, as they have always been romantic all year round – and still are to this day.

 An image of an elderly couple.

Juan and Margarita together for 69 years – Madrid, Spain

Juan (99 years) and Margarita (95 years) met at a dance party organised by the United States Army in Frankfurt, where both lived at the time. Before they had met, Juan and Margarita escaped from different war conflicts in Europe.

Juan had to migrate to France just after the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. After escaping from a refugee camp in the South of France, he lived in Bordeaux until the end of the Second World War, and then moved to Marseille where he found a job in the US Army. After a few years, he was transferred to Frankfurt, Germany.

Margarita was born in Silesia (Breslavia), originally part of Germany but became Polish territory after WWII. She escaped to Frankfurt and worked as a dressmaker for the wives of the US Army servicemen.

They married in 1948 in Frankfurt and decided to move far away from Europe, hoping for a peaceful future away from wars. They chose Venezuela where they had a happy life in Caracas, working hard during weekdays, but enjoying life during weekends. They travelled around the world, first with their two daughters when they were young, then on their own.

They now happily live in Bupa’s care home Madrid to be closer to their daughters and granddaughters.

The secret of their love: keep positive and enjoy life to its full.

An image of an elderly couple. 

Bill and Rina Ritchie together for 76 years – Portland, Victoria, Australia

Bill was 16 years-old when he met Rina (15 years-old) at a dance in Scotland with family friends. They became a couple three years later. Bill and Rina will be celebrating their 76th wedding anniversary in May.

When Bill was 19, he joined the Royal Marines and only after a few weeks, proposed to Rina, the “love of his life”. They were married quickly in Scotland and Bill was then called up to serve during the War, spending five years away in Burma. Rina also worked during the War, operating heavy machinery such as cranes.

They moved to Portland, Victoria, in Australia in 1954 seeking a different life. Bill got a job as a carpenter where he helped to build iconic country landmarks including the Portland Harbour.

Bill’s advice to younger people today: “The young folk of today need to look forward to sharing their lives with each other and being together through thick and thin. Always take care of each other.”

Bill (94 years) and Rina (93 years) believe the secret to a long, happy life together is: “To share everything, be kind to each other – and most importantly, take care of each other.”

Those five years in Burma were the only time Bill and Rina have spent apart. During this time, Rina knitted socks and sent them to him, and he still wears them to this very day.

An image of an elderly couple. 

Don and Beryl Leake together for 65 years - Hertfordshire, UK

While Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Sapphire Jubilee, Don and Beryl Leake are also celebrating a milestone – their 65th Valentine’s Day together.

Don (93 years) and Beryl (97 years) celebrated their sapphire wedding anniversary in October last year and were thrilled to have received a card from Her Majesty to mark the occasion.

Don met Beryl when he was fixing her bike aged 25. They had known each other for a while before the love blossomed. He proposed in the car to Beryl on 6 February 1951and they married six months later.

Don and Beryl live together at Bupa Field House care home in Herfordshire, where they’ll be enjoying a romantic lunch together on Valentine’s Day.

Reflecting on their wedding day, Beryl says: “My mother told me that every cloud has a silver lining; but what we’ve found over the years is that we haven’t had any clouds!”

Don said they are just happy to be here and to be together at their age.

An image of an elderly couple. 

Peter and Berta together for 60 years – Cambridge, New Zealand

Peter and Berta live at St Kilda Retirement Village in Cambridge, New Zealand, and were married on 14 April 1956.

Peter comes from a family of nine children, and Berta comes from a family of 14! But despite this, they are the first couple on both sides of their families to reach their Diamond wedding anniversary.

They met in Cambridge, but are originally from the same Dutch village of Deurne. Their parents knew each other and over time they became friends.

A ballroom dancing partnership blossomed into a friendship and then a serious relationship.

Peter saved his hard earned money and they drove to Auckland in New Zealand to buy Berta an engagement ring, and they were married eighteen months later.

“We were poor as church mice when we started out – but we didn’t care, we just wanted to be married. It’s all worked out beautifully,” says Berta.

There is “I love you,” and then there’s “I’m in love with you,” and that’s what Peter and Berta say they are.

What they love about each other is their kindness, and the fact they never fight or argue. They say that their long and happy marriage is a result of giving a lot and not taking much, and moving on from potential disputes.

"We talk about anything and everything – we’re best friends”.

An image of an elderly couple.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

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