On Thursday, August 29, Undera’s Barry and Margaret Bolitho will tick over 60 years of marriage. News journalist Laura Briggs recently spoke with Mr and Mrs Bolitho to learn about their journey and the secret behind their special connection.
Many put their relationships down to fate, but Mr and Mrs Bolitho have a tonsil infection to thank for the beginning of a long and happy life together.
Mr Bolitho was 24 when he came down with the infection that landed him in Kyabram Bush Nursing Hospital in 1957.
While finding a wife was far from the forefront of his mind when he was admitted to hospital, he could not help but notice the young nurse.
“I took a shine to this little Scottish nurse,” Mr Bolitho said.
So, shortly after his recovery and discharge from the hospital, Mr Bolitho returned.
“After I was discharged I went back up to the hospital one evening and asked her out, and she accepted.”
The young couple marked the start of the relationship with dinner and a drive together.
Two years later they exchanged vows at the Presbyterian Church on August 29, 1959 where they celebrated alongside family members and close friends.
A year into their marriage, the Bolithos built a house on an orchard at Undera — the same house they live in today.
As a fruit grower, Mr Bolitho said the couple’s most difficult challenges — particularly early in their marriage — were the financial stresses caused by issues within the fruit industry.
“There have been very trying times, and there always will be in horticulture,” Mr Bolitho said.
“But luckily it didn’t affect our relationship.”
Mrs Bolitho said it was through those times that their connection as a couple was strengthened.
“As a wife, I think understanding the problem that the husband’s got and what he’s going through is an important way to be able to then work together and get over those obstacles,” she said.
But above just working together to fight their battles, Mr and Mrs Bolitho agree the success of their long marriage came down to three things — trust, respect and luck.
“Trust and respect are two very important things — you trust each other and you respect each other,” Mr Bolitho said.
“I respect Margaret as a woman and my wife and she obviously reciprocates.”
While those two aspects of their relationship were under their control, Mr Bolitho acknowledged that their steady health and mostly smooth sailing through life were simply good luck.
“There’s one very important factor in it all, and that’s luck,” Mr Bolitho said.
“We’ve been so lucky to have the health we’ve had — there’s a lot of people that don’t live for 60 years.
“We’re grateful to have reached this stage.”
Mrs Bolitho said another important factor that the couple learned to embrace from an early stage was the willingness to apologise. She said if there was one thing she could encourage young couples to do, it would be to say `sorry'.
“Don’t go to bed without saying `sorry',” Mrs Bolitho said.
“Even if you’re not at fault, `sorry' is such an important one that if you can say ‘I’m sorry’, then that brings the other person to say they're sorry and then that’s it, it’s finished with.
“But if you leave it, the problem only gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Mrs Bolitho said as they looked to celebrate their major milestone, they were thankful for the many memories throughout their marriage, the special friendships they had formed at Undera and of the support of their three children — Alison, Lynette and David, and David's wife Debbie.