CNHI News Service
Love and marriage come with an obligation to put the other person first, according to many local couples whose matrimony has stood the test of time.
Jimmie Paul Sr., 93, of Load, who will soon celebrate 60 years of marriage to his wife, Anna, said he believes balance is necessary for a happy union.
“It has to be 60/40 — which way do you think that’s going to go? The wife gets the 60,” he said before releasing a hearty laugh and explaining he believes humor is also an important part of the recipe for a happy married life. “No. It’s 50/50. With us it’s 50/50, but the man runs the family.”
Paul recalled he was serving in the U.S. Army Air Force when he met his future wife under somewhat unusual circumstances.
“I was engaged to her cousin. Her cousin gave me the ring back,” he said. “My wife was with her at the time ... and she was a nice-looking woman!”
Noting his time in the service included many overseas assignments, Paul said one of the most challenging parts of their marriage was likely the amount of time she had to spend without him. Looking back on their years together, Paul said the good times have certainly outweighed the bad.
“We always got along, but of course there’s quarreling and fighting. You can’t have a marriage that long and not quarrel and fight,” he said.
Kozetta “Kozee” Stewart, 57, of Cannonsburg, frequently credits her husband, Jeff, 59, for extra effort and understanding that has allowed them to stay together for 23 years. Stewart said they met at a summer party and waited years before deciding to become husband and wife.
“We met at a Fourth of July party. Some girls had told me about him and told me he was coming, so I was waiting for him,” she said with a girlish giggle. “I knew him 13 years before we ever got married.”
Stewart said she sustained a brain injury 18 years ago that likely brought the greatest tests of their marriage. The injury caused changes in her personality and made it difficult to care for herself, she explained, frequently crediting her husband’s attitude and actions during the tough times.
“He has stayed right with me. He is a very loving husband,” she said, citing a recent situation when he dropped everything to help her tend to the needs of their grandchildren when she was caught off guard by a migraine headache.
“When things do happen, I know I have a partner who is willing to step up and take care of things,” she said.
Stewart said young couples facing the challenges of modern economic times will do well by each other if they make a point of communicating.
“Speak your peace. Don’t be mad and keep it in. Just go ahead and speak your peace — not fighting and arguing, just communicating,” she said. “Just communicate and talk to each other.”
Jim Crum of Ashland smiled and got a gleam in his eye as he recalled meeting his wife, Janet, when she pulled in at the old Bluegrass Grill.
“She drove in in her daddy’s big, white Buick and I loved that jet-black, curly hair,” he said, adding they dated for about six months before getting married. They will celebrate 49 years of wedlock in May.
Mrs. Crum said her husband took her to Central Park to pop the question. “He was romantic,” she said, pausing before theorizing they went to the park because they were young and had little money between them.
“We still don’t have any money, but at least I did buy her flowers,” Crum said, gesturing toward a bouquet of roses in a vase on a nearby freezer.
Crum said he and his wife both worked and shared the responsibilities of raising children, with little conflict between them even during tougher times.
“We never had a lot of money, but we never had a lot of fights,” he said, advising today’s newlyweds to follow the old advice about never going to bed angry.
“I tell every young couple that is about to get married, before you say ‘I do,’ be sure you are ready to forsake everything in your life to make sure your spouse’s life is absolutely the best it can be.”
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.