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The Test of Time

By March 24, 2019 March 26th, 2019 No Comments

By Laura Samuel Meyn
Photos by Beth Swan

Want some marriage advice? Ask the experts, in this case a trio of couples who have enjoyed a combined 175 years of wedded bliss. These inspiring duos allowed us to mine their wisdom and insights on how they have sustained such happy unions for decades — and counting.

Marlene and Marshall Harris

Married Aug. 6, 1954

Marshall Harris spotted his future bride across a crowded TCU lounge and asked a fellow football player, “Who is that girl?” Though she initially rebuffed his overtures, Marlene eventually relented “because he was so persistent,” she says, adding that the first summer they courted he hitchhiked from Monahans, Texas, to Fort Worth every weekend to take her out.

Marlene, who lived in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, grew up all around the world thanks to her father’s service in the Army. That prepared her, in part, for the rigors of becoming an Air Force wife. “We moved 22 times in 22 years when I was in the service,” says Marshall. Their family, which grew to three children, accompanied him everywhere except combat zones.

“The service taught the wives that you never let your husband leave home on a fight,” Marlene says. “But that was not hard for me, as my husband is a most forgiving man, even after 64 years.”

“We had disagreements — that’s only natural — but she usually won,” he recalls with a laugh. “And the longer you’re married and the older you are, you develop more or less the same interests and values.” Faith and family, which today includes seven grandkids and one great-grandchild, remain at the center of their lives.

“I would probably say the first 30 years you need to focus on each other, because it’s difficult,” says Marlene. “The next 30 years, you begin to learn from your mistakes, like to leave an argument in one room. If you argue in the kitchen, don’t argue in the den. And never forget the two F words: forgive and forget.”

64 YEARS and counting

56 YEARS and counting

Betty and Jim Price

Married June 30, 1962

A pair of Baylor grads who met at an alumni function in Fort Worth applies the same work ethic to their marriage as they did to their professional lives, volunteer commitments and the parenting of two children.

Betty Price, a former home economics teacher, went on to develop a curriculum and design the classrooms at Sam Houston High School. Her husband, Jim, who became a Navy pilot during the Korean War after graduating from Baylor’s law school, spent the bulk of his career as an assistant city attorney in Fort Worth, a municipal judge pro tem and a trial attorney with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.

Mutual interests, including an abiding affection for their alma mater, helped cement their bond. The couple founded the Baylor Parents Club and served on the Baylor alumni executive board; both have been honored with awards for their service.

The Prices often spend weekends at the family ranch not far from Waco while prioritizing fun, hunting and adventure. Thanks to the flight perks resulting from his military service, they’ve traveled to Australia, Iceland, Southwest Asia and many countries in Europe.

Over the years, they’ve developed some tenets: Make belief in God a central part of the partnership. Make life together an adventure — travel together the world over, even if you have to borrow to do it. Agree on major decisions prior to acting. Respect and cherish each other’s family members and friends as if they were your own.

Along the way, they’ve accumulated a fair amount of stuff, which accounts for their only source of conflict.

“She exercises the six-month rule,” says Jim. “If I haven’t used it or found it in six months, she gives it away.”

Betty’s deadpanned response: “Pack rat doesn’t begin to describe it.”

who met at an alumni function in Fort Worth applies the same work ethic to their marriage as they did to their professional lives, volunteer commitments and the parenting of two children.

Betty Price, a former home economics teacher, went on to develop a curriculum and design the classrooms at Sam Houston High School. Her husband, Jim, who became a Navy pilot during the Korean War after graduating from Baylor’s law school, spent the bulk of his career as an assistant city attorney in Fort Worth, a municipal judge pro tem and a trial attorney with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.

Mutual interests, including an abiding affection for their alma mater, helped cement their bond. The couple founded the Baylor Parents Club and served on the Baylor alumni executive board; both have been honored with awards for their service.

The Prices often spend weekends at the family ranch not far from Waco while prioritizing fun, hunting and adventure. Thanks to the flight perks resulting from his military service, they’ve traveled to Australia, Iceland, Southwest Asia and many countries in Europe.

Over the years, they’ve developed some tenets: Make belief in God a central part of the partnership. Make life together an adventure — travel together the world over, even if you have to borrow to do it. Agree on major decisions prior to acting. Respect and cherish each other’s family members and friends as if they were your own.

Along the way, they’ve accumulated a fair amount of stuff, which accounts for their only source of conflict.

“She exercises the six-month rule,” says Jim. “If I haven’t used it or found it in six months, she gives it away.”

Betty’s deadpanned response: “Pack rat doesn’t begin to describe it.”

Mary and Warner Bailey

Married Aug. 15, 1964

She fell for her future husband while sitting in the pew of her childhood Presbyterian church in Port Arthur while he was preaching as a student minister. Mary and Warner Bailey dated long distance for two years, tying the knot a month after she turned 21.

“I always thought of myself as Warner’s wife — not as a minister’s wife,” she says. “Warner supported me in that view. I had my career [as a math teacher and computer scientist] and he had his.”

They also value education. “After our marriage, we both went to graduate school at different times, with each of us making sacrifices for the other,” says Mary, noting that Warner, who earned his Ph.D. from Yale, retired as a senior pastor but remains director of Presbyterian studies at Brite Divinity School.

“When I’m counseling couples who are to marry, I’m talking about all the things the vows say: to be faithful to each other in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer,” says Warner. “That basic commitment plus the meshing of two personalities and allowing those personalities to grow are the pillars of a marriage.”

Moreover, “I always tell people you never stay married to the person you married,” he adds. “Honor the development of each of you, and find a way to blend the persons you are becoming back into the oneness of marriage itself.”

The Baileys have grown together through common interests including art, music, theater, traveling, gardening and dancing. But above all that, the couple maintains an abiding commitment to each other.

“While the stresses to our marriage have been greatly minimized because of so many compatibilities, there have been times of disappointment and stresses that life always throws to everyone,” says Mary. “In these times we have been there for each other and supported each other with unconditional love.”

54 YEARS and counting