A decade earlier (1945), at the end of World War II, the Grand Street Boys Association hosted the eighth one of these parties. The longest married couple were Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Kay, who lived together for 62 years in the Bronx. A year earlier, Mrs. David Nierel reported, after 59 years of marriage, that: “I have my first husband . . . that’s why I’m happy.” William Witz identified hard work as the key ingredient in marital bliss, but it was not clear whether he was referring to making a living or building a happy home. We suspect that he meant hard work in both domains of his life. Most of the couples apparently didn’t want to comment on the key ingredients in a successful, marriage. They just wanted to eat and dance. Perhaps, this is the reason for their success as long-lasting couples.

These were the largest gatherings of long-term couples that we discovered in the newspapers of America, but these certainly were not the longest lasting marriages. In 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Washienko of Yonkers, New York celebrated their seventieth anniversary. Yonkers proclaimed “Nicholas M. Washienko St. Day.” We don’t know what Mrs. Washienko’s reactions were to this civic oversight. When does she get her day? Another pair of New Yorkers, Anton Gustafson and Borghild Anderson were born overseas, but married in Brooklyn and celebrated their seventieth anniversary in 1965. Mrs. Gustafson declared that: . . nothing excites me anymore. . . You get so used to big and beautiful things that nothing impresses you anymore . . . We’ve lived in the same neighborhood all our lives . . .that’s why we’ve lived [together] so long. And we’ve loved through the best times – between the Spanish American War and World War I. It was peaceful and friendly and ever since there has been excitement.”

Borghild goes on to observe that modern women “always seem to be spending money and going out — they expect too much, busy keeping up with the Joneses. I say the heck with the Joneses!” In her defiance and in her commitment to community and continuity, Borghild echoes the sentiments expressed by many of our long-term couples. Like many of our successful couples, she is committed to finding a distinctive way in which she and Anton live their life together. Yet, she does not want to remain isolated. She wants to remain in her community and recognizes that her relationship with Anton is sustained, in part, through their mutual commitment to their local community. What about Anton’? Well, he has been deaf for many years and refuses to get a hearing aid. He still has his own views on the matter, however. According to Anton, Borghild is “the best wife they don’t come any better.” Case closed.


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About the Author

William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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