Married more than 60 years: ‘Our secret to a long-lasting union’

Sep 29, 2019
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Brian has been married to Jacqui for more than 60 years and thinks he might have figured out what the secret to their happiness is. Source: Getty Images

Apart from the odd accident, like an exploding appendix and a slightly dickie heart, I’m in pretty good health after 61 years of life married to my wife Jacqui. I put most of my good fortune down to Jacqui herself and the trouble she has always taken to provide the best she can for us, even when times were hard, as they occasionally were.

For a start, she is a great cook, who produces super meals for me every day, rarely grumbling, always cheerful and with enormous imagination in her choices of menu. The word ‘imagination’ is important, because that is one of the main ingredients that go into her cooking — I never know what I am going to be presented with, and more often than not, nor does she! You see, she is a cook who often literally creates the dish she is preparing as she goes along, which means that whatever she is preparing is going to be unique, even if it starts out being something I have enjoyed before.

She usually scorns the use of cookery books, except in the direst moments of need, so every meal she prepares, even recreations of previous successes, can end up as a brand new dish. She has a wonderful way of throwing what she thinks is required into the bowl, mixing it, cooking it at some mandatory temperature she decides upon, and then waiting until it ‘looks right’. Yet it’s a system that never, or very rarely fails! I guess I’m not really treating her fairly here — I’m sure the main reason for her somewhat laid back attitude is because she has developed well tried and proven techniques in the very long time we’ve been together and she knows instinctively whether all will be okay!

The fact that we have moved around the world quite a lot has some bearing on her skills too — she has learned from other cooks and books from places like New Zealand, England and Australia, trying local specialties and products, often inventing her own new recipes with them, rather than just ‘sticking to the rules’. So I have been presented with such new oddities as choko, pavlova, snapper, and tree tomatoes from New Zealand; suet pudding, boiled beef and carrots, pork pies, and pancakes with lemon juice and sugar from England, (I even liked tripe from there, but Jacqui wasn’t keen, so I didn’t insist that she should produce more of it for me, after one or two tries). Finally, in Australia we have enjoyed kangaroo steaks, scallops cooked in their shells with a wine sauce, and ‘buffalo wings and ribs’. The last dish is a combination of highly seasoned chicken drumsticks and a slab of grilled pork ribs — delicious with chips and salad!

There is a lot more to our lives together than just the cooking though! We have had the good fortune, unlike some couples, to have remained good mates over the years; we do most things together rather than separately and we enjoy the same things, like music, painting, writing, photography and (naturally) eating. We have found, in recent years that we even have contact with each other at the subconscious level — I’ll often say something to her, like, “How about we pop into Welshpool this afternoon and you can stock up, at your op-shop”, to have her reply, “I was just about to ask you that!” This happens quite frequently, which I believe proves that extra sensory perception does exist, especially by people who are close to each other emotionally.

We have our occasional battles of course (show me a couple who don’t and you can bet they lead pretty boring lives together). Any couple possessing a grain or two of intelligence, is bound to experience a difference of opinion occasionally, it’s just natural — you should see us some Saturday nights, trying to decide what program is the best to watch (or go to sleep to!). Anyway half the fun of a difference of opinion is the making-up afterwards!

We’re both getting on a bit now, but I think we still have a few years left in us yet — the main thing at our age, is to grab each day as it comes along and make the most of it. That’s what I do, and I am very grateful that I still have Jacqui and her wonderful cooking, to enjoy it all with me!

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Are you married? What do you think is the secret to a happy life together?

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