Making Love Last!
When Bill and Barbara Martin first met at a mutual friend’s Christmas party in December of 1963, there was an instant connection. As Barbara explained, between Bill’s sense of humor and confidence, she was hooked.
“I thought he was a really nice guy,” said Barbara. “I told my mother that night after the party. She asked me if I had a good time and I told her I had met this fellow that half the time he had me laughing and the other half, had me wanting to turn around and walk away.”
After a mere 11 months of dating, the Martins would be married in December of 1964. Because Bill spent a large part of their courtship studying medicine at a university in Italy, the couple only went on about five dates, added Barbara. One of those dates happens to be one of her fondest memories.
“We went to this little cafe on Route 8 and there must have been just a few people in there,” said Barbara. “They had a juke box, so you could go and pick out whatever you want. We must have stayed there until two in the morning and must have danced to all of the songs. It was just a fun night.”
Fast forward 53 years to 2018. The Martins now reside at Summit Place Assisted Living on Daniel Island and it is obvious that their love is still going strong. When asked what her favorite thing about her husband is, Barbara had a response one would expect from an infatuated 16 year-old-girl speaking of her first love.
“His humor and his smile are what I love most,” she said. “When he smiles, those blue eyes would really twinkle.”
The Martins’ ability to remain close throughout many years of marriage is partly due to the love they receive from their four children—Liz-Anne, David, Kevin and Matthew—and their families, explained Barbara. In September of 2009, after their youngest son David, who lives on Daniel Island, suggested they move to be closer to family, the Martins packed up and relocated to the island after spending 35 years in their home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“When we were looking around, David said to us that it would be really great to have us on the island because if we needed them, they could get to us in a hurry,” she said “…It’s been nice to watch the kids grow up together. The other children who don’t live on the island, we get to see a lot. We used to go see each one of them at least three times a year, but we’re not traveling like that anymore. We just can’t. God Bless them. They all, for the most part, make it every Thanksgiving and that’s great. Family is the most important thing, I think.”
But being married for over 50 years, of course, comes with its ups and downs, added Barbara. Arguments happen, she continued, but when issues do arise, the most vital thing to do is talk it out and, even more important, listen.
“Sometimes it was hard,” said Barbara. “It really was. The best advice that was ever given to us was to not go to bed mad at each other. There is no sense carrying grudges. You have to find some way to make amends. It may not be perfect, but at least you are on a better footing.”
With the American Psychological Association estimating the divorce rate for couples in America at higher than 40 percent, making marriages last is arguably not the easiest task. But with hard work and dedication, and most importantly to the Martins, similar values, a successful marriage is more than possible, added Barbara.
“You have to have mutual things that are important to you,” she said. “Your values have to match. I also always use to kid with him and tell him once he stopped making me laugh, that I’d trade him in for a new model. He’s been doing a pretty good job.”
Barbara also believes that creating experiences together is vital to a thriving marriage.
“Take care of your health and do what you can do when you can do it,” she said. “When you’re younger, even if you’ve started a family, take vacations when you can. We used to take the kids to church and out to eat with us all of the time. We very rarely got babysitters.”
For newlyweds or newer couples who may be thinking about starting a family, Barbara had some key advice.
“They should get a dog first and practice their parenting with an animal,” continued Barbara. “…It helps you learn about parenting and if you’re cut out for it.”
From puppy love to lasting love, the Martins seem to have figured out what it truly means to live happily ever after.