It’s the dream of every young couple, to be happily married and happily grow old together. It worked out that way for these two couples, who have both been married for 60 years. They said staying together was easy because divorce had never occurred to them as an option.
Bill and Virginia Killingsworth met in high school. They got married on Jan. 26, 1952 in Pasadena, Calif. Ken and Rose Meier, also high school sweethearts, coincidentally married one day later, in Chicago.
Bill and Ken both served in the Navy. Their paths converged at the Coronado Naval Base in San Diego some 50 years ago. They raised their children together and went on many camping trips together, forging a close friendship until the Meiers moved to Kennebunkport, Maine.
A few days after their 60th anniversaries, they had a reunion at the Killingsworth home in Coronado, sharing fond memories and laughter, and reflecting on their 60-year marriages.
“We never thought of divorce,” they said unanimously.
“We may have thought of killing,” Virginia jokingly added, “but we didn’t think of divorce. You didn’t think of separating or divorcing if you had a problem—you worked it out.”
“When we married, it was for life,” Rose said. “You married because you loved each other, and that was it.
“We’ve had our differences,” Bill said. You learn to work them out, and you make concessions. If you think you’re right, that’s wrong. You can’t always have your own way.”
They said they were “depression babies,” when times were different and when having a lifelong marriage was the norm.
They all agreed that the old way of men going to work and women staying home, taking care of the children, was the best way of keeping the family together. And there was no such thing as living together before marriage, they said.
Ken said he thought the high divorce rate nowadays was a result of people wanting instant gratification and instant happiness, and if they don’t get that, they think they have to look someplace else, but that’s not the case. Having gone through the Great Depression and the rebuilding of the country, Ken said it taught him that the secret to a close relationship is that one needs difficulties, and one also needs the enjoyment of each other.
Virginia said she and Bill also thought having a common hobby was a good thing, so the whole family went on a lot of bike rides.
“In our time, we didn’t have television, but we read a lot of books, and we engaged in a lot of activities at home with the children,” Ken said.
Rose shared a little secret of hers: She said a sense of humor is important, and it’s got to be fun. “You’ve got to be able to laugh off things that happen. I told all my kids when they were married to keep a sense of humor. We always have fun, all of us,” she said.