Celebrating long-time sweethearts this Valentine’s Day

Two local couples talk about the secrets of a long, happy marriage

LASTING LOVE - Maurice VanHereghe stands with his wife of 67 years

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s tough to think of much besides the mushy, romanticized emotional aspects of a relationship – thanks in large part to Hallmark and Hollywood.

However, for some couples, there are more important things like respect, devotion and hard work. For Lacombe residents Joyce and Maurice VanHereghe, these skills, along with patience and sensibility, are a large part of what has kept their 67-year relationship strong.

“We’ve had our ups and downs like everyone, but we’ve managed to straighten them out and stay together. We’ve found out how to respect the other one’s views and control your temper. You have to get along with each other the best you can and don’t take minor things to heart,” Maurice said.

His wife, Joyce, added, “Nowadays, I don’t think young kids would manage how we did because they have to have what the neighbours have got, or better. We never felt that way. We plugged along with what we had, and that’s how we got along. You can’t be greedy – you have to live within your means. That helped our relationship.”

Maurice was playing in a band when the two met at a dance. Together, they raised four children and are now residing at the Lacombe Senior Citizen’s Lodge. Both had modest jobs during their marriage, and worked hard to save money.

“If he was a spender, and I didn’t agree with that, it would never work. He played the shows at the dances, and I babysat. They brought in extra money – not much, but it kept us going,” Joyce said.

She went on to add that trust and loyalty played a large role in their relationship.

“He was playing at these dances, and I was home looking after the kids. I wasn’t uptown in the bars and running around,” she said.

According to Kansas State University assistant professor of family studies and human services program, Sonya Britt, financial arguments and disagreements are the number one predictor of divorce for both men and women.

Britt is also the program director of personal financial planning and conducted a study in 2013 that controlled income, debt and net worth among its participants. The study concluded that among all socio-economic classes, arguments about money were the number one predictor of divorce.

For the VanHereghes, similar opinions about saving money and spending responsibly played a large role in their compatibility over the years.

Something that the couple kept saying was how important it was to let the little things go after disagreements. Forgiveness and patience are skills that the VanHereghes have displayed throughout their union.

“We don’t hold things against each other. If there was something we didn’t agree with, we got over it the best we could and got back to normal, and forgot about it. In a marriage, you have to do your best to get along and avoid quarrelling and fighting,” Maurice said.

The two had very similar ideas of marriage, religion, children and what makes a marriage last. Maurice and Joyce said that they respect each other and put effort towards making their marriage work.

Similarly, Edith and Harley Hustad, also residents at the Lacombe Senior Citizen’s Lodge, have been using the same principles in their marriage for nearly six decades.

“We’ve been together since 1956 – that’s hard work. We went from day to day, and tried to get along most of the time. Not all of the time, but you work through it. It’s not always easy, but I think anybody has a falling out once in a while,” Edith said.

“You have to want to work at a marriage for one thing, and you have to want your marriage to work. In disagreements, you have to come together on things and have patience to work through them.”

Much like Maurice said, Edith added that there is no point carrying on an argument or holding a grudge to have a good relationship.

“We’ve had a good marriage in that we just got over disagreements and took things day to day.”

For both the VanHereghes and the Hustads, there were multiple factors involved that have led to a lengthy union. They both talked about the importance of patience, understanding and a willingness to build a good relationship.

Common issues that can also arise in relationships surround mismatched opinions on lifestyle or spirituality, differences in parenting styles and infidelity. To work through these issues, communication, trust and a willingness to forgive are mandatory.

Relationships can be beneficial in that they provide companionship, intimacy and support and can help develop part of a person’s identity. However, without determination, forgiveness, modesty and compromise, relationships can dissolve.

“Joyce has always been a good wife to me, a good housekeeper and a good cook, too, until things started to go bad for her health. I would try to see her side of things, but we each left each other to their own ideas,” Maurice said.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com