Say “I love you” often and don’t go to bed angry.
That’s how Marjorie and John Reeves have managed to stay married for nearly 52 years.
It’s also the Valentine’s Day advice they give to couples who are just married or considering marriage.
“Tell your mate verbally and often that you love them. Now your actions have to come in, too, but to hear it is good,” said Marjorie Reeves. “It may sound like a broken record, but it’s not.”
After a dozen years of marriage, that’s the same advice fellow Forsyth County residents Marty and Fernando Somoza share.
The Somozas also encourage couples to grow with each other.
“Neither one of us has tried to change each other,” Fernando Somoza said. “I’m still a kid in a lot of respects. But we respect ourselves as individuals.
“I think some people have a tendency to meld into one person. We’re still able to be individuals, and we love that aspect of each other.”
Compromise is also key.
“One person cannot always win,” he said. “At least in our world, we have to give in to each other at some point. I can’t always get my way and she can’t always get hers. We’ve always been open and we don’t ever harbor anger over days.”
The Reeves met at a party back in 1959. Less than a year later, they were husband and wife.
“On a hot Saturday afternoon John calls and said let’s go to Stone Mountain and climb the mountain,” she said. “So we climbed and we climbed and I kept saying, ‘Why are we going to the top, why are we going to the top?
“So we got to the top of the mountain, worn out from climbing, and John drops to his knee on a Stone Mountain rock, which we still have, and asked me to marry him. He told the children that I [complained] all the way up and cried all the way down.”
Marjorie Reeves said she “fell in love with John’s hands. He had gentle hands.”
John Reeves said he fell in love with his wife’s outgoing personality. But being on the quiet side himself, Reeves said it was a case of opposites attracting.
But that’s what helped make it work, said Marjorie Reeves.
“You’re not going to speed up John and he’s not slowing me down,” she said. “You just never really subtract from each other.”
While the Reeves met and married quickly, it was quite the opposite for the Somozas, who were married in September 1999.
The couple met their first semester at St. Mary’s University in Texas.
Marty Somoza broke a fingernail twirling her baton and Fernando brought her a bandage.
“I had butterflies and that was it,” she said.
But marriage was a long wait.
“We dated for almost 11 years before we got married. But we knew early. We’d talk about it early, but he wanted to finish his Ph.D before he got married. That’s what he always told me. So I knew if I wanted to marry him, I had to wait,” she said.
It was worth the wait, she said.
Having children has added to the challenge of marriage, they said.
“There’s not much time for each other and the spontaneity of just being able to pick up and do whatever you want to, that’s made it harder, so you have to make a point to do things together and to find time and to have date nights,” she said.
Fernando Somoza said their two daughters do go to bed first, so the couple has time at night to watch TV together and catch up.
“But even if we’re with them somewhere, we’re still together,” he said. “And on infrequent nights, we actually get to go out by ourselves, but that’s not very often.”
Raising their two children was mommy’s job in the Reeves family. With John Reeves on the road traveling for work, Marjorie Reeves was left home with the kids.
“She handled the problems, she had all the responsibilities,” John Reeves said. “It wasn’t fair to her and she let me know that.”
Being a traveling man’s wife was hard for Marjorie Reeves, but she made it work. She was inspired by her parents, who were married for 70 years and her husband’s parents, who were married for 51 years.
“You have to look for the best in your partner. When the worst is showing, try to remember why you liked this person in the beginning,” she said. “Life is not a bed of roses, but you’ve got to look for the best in it, because that’s all there is.”