What is the Secret to a Successful Marriage?

Fred and Betty AbdonIf you look, the answer may be found in a Chick-fil-a parking lot near you.

Nearly every Saturday, Fred and Betty Abdon, leave their Overbrook apartment and travel West on Route 228. They pull up to the Chick-fil-a drive-thru window, place their order, and wait in line.

Once they pick up their food, they find a quiet parking spot and enjoy their meal. If anyone knows what it takes to have a successful marriage – it’s the Abdons – they are still dating 72 years after they both said, ‘I do.’

During the Christmas season, in 1948, the Abdons were both working in the same department store in Kentucky. Fred wrapped gifts, and Betty worked in sales.

At the time, the business school where Fred attended, was holding a dance, and “I didn’t have a date,” noted Fred. However, all of that changed once he met Betty. According to Betty, they “just hit it off” and have been dating ever since.

“He was awfully good looking,” explained Betty. “He looked a lot like Frank Sinatra. He had that pompadour wave hair, and he was always dressed nice.”

As they grew closer, they soon realized they had something else in common – their faith. “We were both Christians…,” explained Fred.

Fred and Betty AbdonTwo years later, on June 25, 1950, Fred and Betty married—the same day, war broke out on the Korean Peninsula.  It was not long thereafter, as Fred explained, “I got my letter of welcome to the United States Marine Corps.”

“The Marines made a gentleman out of him… I see that every day,” noted Betty. “He’s strong. He is good at making decisions, fast, and I think the Marines made him what he is.”

Following his time in the Marine Corp, Fred’s job kept the couple on the move. They moved at least 15 times throughout their marriage. “A lot of car rides in those moves, we didn’t have an argument or quarrel and we just enjoyed being together,” explained Betty. “I guess we have been together for so long, that we are just one part.”

So what advice, does Fred, 93, and Betty, 92, have on this Valentine’s Day for young couples?

“I think you have to love each other,” said Betty. “When one is hurt, you’re both hurt.”

While love is first, Fred points to “open communication” as another important element of a successful marriage. There also has to be “…give and take,” acknowledged Fred.

Fred and Betty Abdon married When there is love, it shows through other things,” Fred explained. “But there are times you have to put aside what you want and look at the other person and care for them. Compatibility and recognizing the needs of the other person is extremely important.”

Fred acknowledges there is no such thing as a perfect marriage.  As he explained, “there are times, in any marriage, that there are differences, but those differences… we we’re able to work out without difficulty and move on to the more important things in life,” said Fred. “The big things will always take care of themselves.”

Today, Fred and Betty are living their Abundant Life in Overbrook Point—only a few miles away from their grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law.