Two Roanoke couples prove that lasting marriages are more than just thing of past

Roanoke residents Ted (back left) and Claribel Husband (seated, left) and Art and Mary Burton have been married for a combined 147 years. The couples say the key to their success is a strong commitment to each other.
Roanoke residents Ted (back left) and Claribel Husband (seated, left) and Art and Mary Burton have been married for a combined 147 years. The couples say the key to their success is a strong commitment to each other. Photo by Andre B. Laird.

Originally publilshed Feb. 11, 2010.

For most people, lasting marriages that work are urban myths or something you watch on TV Land or Nick At Night during episodes of Leave It To Beaver, All in the Family or Little House on the Prairie.

Well, meet the Husbands and Burtons, two Roanoke couples with more than 140 years of marriage between them.

Ted Husband and Mary Burton are siblings and say strong family values and living through the Depression were instrumental in explaining why their individual marriages have lasted so long.

"Our parents got married on Valentine's Day in 1906," Mary Burton says. "Growing up, we had other family members who lived with us and family was always important."

"Back then we didn't have much and you learn to make the best of what you had," states Ted Husband. "That's a lot different for the young people today."

Art and Mary were married on Oct. 8, 1933, at Christ Methodist Church in Roanoke.

The Burtons say that after they got married, Art tried his hand at farming for a year, but it didn't quite work out. He eventually began a career in construction and later as a rural mail carrier.

"We had no amenities or luxuries, but I never thought about divorce," says Mary Burton. "That was unheard of during those days."

The Husbands were married on Dec. 10, 1938, at a parsonage. Art says the marriage was kept secret for a while.

"The only person who knew about it at first was my dad," he says. "We finally let it out about six weeks later and my mom was mad that Dad had known about it and kept quiet."

He adds that their start was even more modest.

"I fixed up my parents' old chicken house and that's were we started out," he says. "Claribel hated it and after about two weeks we moved back into my parents' house. We bought our house in 1940 and have been here ever since."

Claribel Husband adds that as a homemaker, it is her duty to keep the peace in the household.

"There are just some things that are not worth the argument or confrontation," she states. "It didn't mean that we didn't have disagreements; it just meant that you learn to pick your battles and not try to fight every one. Ted is pretty easy-going as well, so that makes it a lot easier."

"You argue and you have your ups and downs, but that's marriage," states Ted Husband. "You learn to make it work. When the pastor joined us together as man and wife he tied that knot really tight."

Mary says that Art has always been a hard worker and given a lot for his family, including serving in the Navy, from July 1943 until Armistice Day in 1945. He spent most of his tour in Hawaii.

He is also the sole living graduate of the Union Central School Class of 1930.

"Art is easy to get along with, so we never really had too many problems in our marriage," Mary adds.

Art says one of the tricks to a successful marriage is actually not a trick at all.

"If the wife is happy, then everybody is happy," he states. "Nothing complicated about it; just make sure there is peace at home."

Mary recalls that one of the important factors of living during the Depression era was the sense of community and duty to helping each other.

"I remember there was a really big snowstorm, with huge snow drifts all across the road," she states. "All the farmers came out with their shovels and cleared the roads so the kids could go to school. Times were a lot different then."

She also recalls another time when the community helped her father fix the family barn after a tornado hit the area and caused a lot of damage.

Both couples agree that when it all comes down to it, there are no secret formulas or special tricks for a lasting marriage.

The Husbands, who celebrated 76 years last December, say it's all about taking it one day at a time.

"We have gotten along fine so far and we have managed to make it work," says Claribel. "It just takes some work and not everybody wants to do that these days."

The Burtons will be married for 72 years this October and offer the same advice for young couples.

"It helps when you do things together as a couple," states Mary Burton. "Art has taken me to a lot of places. Together, we have visited every state in the union, except for Minnesota. Doing things together really helps to make the relationship work."