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Love & Sex & Relationship

Couple Celebrate 81st Anniversary, Shares Their Secret to A Successful Marriage

John and Ann Betar eloped on Nov. 25, 1932, fleeing their close-knit Syrian neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and driving as fast as they could to Harrison, New York, to avoid Ann’s father’s plans to marry her off to a man 20 years older.

Now, as their 81st wedding anniversary approaches on Monday (November 25, 2013), the couple, named on Valentine’s Day by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as 2013’s “longest married couple” in America, can only laugh as they look back on the commotion they caused.

Last February, representatives of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian group based in San Bernardino, California, flew to Fairfield to present the Betars with a plaque and other gifts. It determined they were the longest-married living couple in the United States, based on a review of nominations sent in from around the country.

John Betar, now 102, chuckles recalling how mad the family was about their elopement and how his wife’s aunt consoled his father-in-law by telling him not to worry because the marriage would not last.

Their secret?

“Just contentment. . . with what you have, what you’re doing,” said John.

“If you think a little bit about what you’re doing and if it’s wrong and he tries to straighten it out, we straighten it out. And if not, you just try to go along with it,” added.

Ann Betar, now 98-years old.

The key for the happy couple has been understanding and communicating with their each other in spite of any differences.

“Don’t think that life is great all the way around,” explained Ann.

“It’s only about cooking. It’s only about cooking, that’s the only arguments we had,” joked John, as he sat on a couch holding his wife’s hand in the waterfront house they have shared since 1964.

“See? That’s what he thinks! It’s only about the cooking,” finished Ann, with a roll of her eyes.

The day the couple tied the knot, the Great Depression was in full swing, “King Kong” had yet to shake up the silver screen, and future U.S. President John F. Kennedy was just a high school student.

A year later on their first anniversary, the pair were happy to just be eating meal.

“We were lucky to eat!” they both exclaimed.

“I was a fruit peddler and we had a lot of vegetables. We lived on vegetables,” added John.

Eight decades later, couple’s current house is on Long Island Sound, just a few miles from where they raised their five children in Bridgeport. John moved from vegetable peddler, to successful grocer before becoming a realtor.

Life has not always been easy. The couple lost one daughter and their only son to cancer within the past 15 years.

“Marriage isn’t a lovey-dovey thing, you know, for 80 years,” said Ann.

“You learn to accept one another’s ways of life, agreements, disagreements — disagreements on our children, preparation on bringing up your kids. That was the main interest was your children.”

The Betars now have 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Last February, representatives of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian group based in San Bernardino, California, flew to Fairfield to present the Betars with a plaque and other gifts. It determined they were the longest-married living couple in the United States, based on a review of nominations sent in from around the country.

The Betars advice for married couples nowadays:

“They expect miracles of each other like ‘you have to agree with me, this is what I want to do,’ but it doesn’t work that way. I mean were all different even though. . . your children are all different. Find out what interests them the most and work on that,” said Ann.

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Mother of one beautiful daughter. Former airport employee and now a homemaker. Loves movies and cooking besides administering this forum which has been online since September, 2011.