Talk to your spouse this Valentine’s Day

Communication key to marriage longevity

WENDY CHESTNUT/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Harold and Gloria Biichle, were married Oct. 22, 1948. After traveling west in a mini camper and to Alaska and living for ten winters in Florida, the couple, married for 69 years, reside at the Williamsport Home apartments.

Is there a secret to staying married? How can those who vow ” ’till death do us part” keep the magic alive and remain best friends?

With the holiday of love fast approaching this month three couples with 190 years of marital bliss combined give some hints. Bette Folmar, married to Bob 60 years this October, said, “there is no secret. We just get along.” Although she added, “communication and getting everything out in the open” is how they have remained together. “We promised not to lie to each other,” she said. Bob added, “Don’t do anything behind their back.”

Evelyn Seaman, married to Paul for 69 years and the parents of four children, said the key is in four words. ” ‘You may be right.’ It’s not admitting you are wrong but it’s the beginning to meeting in the middle,” she said. Her husband Paul, who will be 95 in April on their anniversary, said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, “Listen to what she has to say then try to get her to think your way.” But he added, “It’s a 50/50 deal.”

Gloria and Harold Biichle have been married 69 years also. Harold added, “You need to work on your marriage. Don’t give up on it. Talk things over and look at all the good things.” Gloria added that there always was a “gang of family” around them which helped. “You can’t say this is the way it’s going to be. You have to work it out.”

The Biichles met through church activities, married and lived in Duboistown with their two daughters. Harold was a plumber until his retirement and Gloria worked for 13 years in their home as a beautician. “I was lucky to have something that I could do and stay home with my children,” Gloria added. “But I wasn’t happy with it. My dad wanted me to be a hairdresser and back then we listened to our parents. I wanted to work in a bank,” she laughed. But then when their children went to school she applied at the library and began working in the cataloging department. “I loved it,” she added. “I worked there 20 years.” Harold said, “If it wouldn’t be for my loving wife and her taking care of everything, I wouldn’t know what to do.”

All three men shared the same sentiment about their spouse. Paul Seaman said with a nod of his head, “I’ll be 95 in April and I never would have made it without her. I shouldn’t tell her this but I’ll never be able to repay her.” His wife, taking his comment to heart, said, “He’s never gotten up from the dinner table without telling me thank you, never.”

The Seaman’s love story began with any interesting tale. Paul was riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle in a group when one of the racing bikes started a speed wobble and the rider flew off in front of him. He volunteered to help feed his badly injured friend in the hospital when he saw a beautiful nurse. “I couldn’t get her first name and kept coming back even after my friend got his cast off and could feed himself so I could see her,” he said chuckling. “It was 1946, I got her name and we went on our date and that was the beginning.”

The newly married couple were asked to be on a popular radio program in the 1940s “Honeymoon in New York” with Ed Herlihy on WEAF. Evelyn said, “They asked us how we met and Paul proposed to me on the show.” Paul said he had to cancel his honeymoon plans to Quebec, Canada, but they visited New York City and were given tickets to see “Brigadoon on Broadway.”

Bob Folmar said meeting Bette was the “best thing that ever happened to him.” They were meeting with friends in 1956 at a small restaurant in town when Bette had to return to her nursing residence. Bob luckily had a car which granted him the chance to ask her to the movies. They married and had three children.

Though Bette said, “We had a tragedy that brought us closer together.” The Folmar’s 6-year-old son was killed by a car while they were living in Connecticut. “We both thought it was our own fault but we got through it. Some people don’t make it through something like that, but we became closer.”

Bette, who worked nights as a nurse, said they never really had any problems. Though, she did remember one incident. “He would feed the kids and clean up, so he bought a dishwasher. The first time he used it he filled it with Tide and there was suds all over, but he cleaned it up,” she said with laughing eyes, remembering. She said with her on the night shift, he would get the kids off to grade school and she would sleep while they were at school, then they would all eat dinner together. “Even when our son was in high school wrestling he would sit with us at the table and eat a grapefruit. We were all together,” Bette added.

The couple lived all over New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, moving 13 times. Bette was fortunate to get a job wherever as a nurse. Bob worked with Aetna Insurance as a safety engineer.

“We are best friends that don’t have to go to separate homes,” Bob said. “I am very fortunate with the girl I got and I mean that sincerely. We had one checking and one savings and never had any problems with money. A lot of people go crazy with it but you need to appreciate each other’s thoughts. There are a lot of decisions to make.”

All three couples combined their financials as husband and wife. Gloria Biichle said, “There was no mine, or yours, it was all ours.” Evelyn Seaman added, “He never even looked at the bills. I paid them.” Paul added, “I didn’t have any credit to begin with. I waited until I had the money to buy something.”

Although money can be a large part of the flowers, candy and jewelry associated with Valentine’s Day, the couples have “nothing special” planned for the day of love.

The Folmar’s said they used to exchange cards when they were younger. “A dozen red roses was so expensive, we were more frugal,” Bette said. “Other holidays were more important.”

The Seaman’s share the same idea. Evelyn said, “I’ll probably wake up to a picture of a heart.” Paul explained, “I’m up early, about 5. I eat my breakfast and read all the papers. I’ll probably write her a little love note.”

The Biichle’s haven’t decided but might visit their favorite restaurant, Country Cupboard in Lewisburg. Harold’s favorite dessert is their sticky buns. But Harold added, “The best thing about Valentine’s is just being together. It’s special because we are still together.”

All three couples currently live in the apartments at The Williamsport Home.

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