Brookdale Couples Share Seven Tips to Make Love Last

NASHVILLE, TN–Who knows the secret to love better than those who have lived it? That was the question that Seema Akkar-Rivers asked herself when she started working as a medical technician at Brookdale Montclair Paulsbo. She was newly engaged, with the best resource for marriage advice standing in front of her every day. So, she started asking couples in the senior living community about their relationships and for any marital advice.

Enter Maggie and Art Bretsen. Their love story was one that impacted Seema in its uniqueness. The Bretsen’s, who will celebrate 70 years this March, met and fell in love through letters they wrote to each other during WWII. Seema’s relationship with her husband is also unique in that she’s the first in her family to have an intercultural marriage.

Click here to watch a “A Tale of Two Loves” video and hear some of the wisdom Seema learned from Maggie and Art.

Taking a page from Seema’s book, the Brookdale team collected seven keys to love from Brookdale couples around the country:

  1. Get involved doing what the other person likes to do.
    That’s the advice given by Ada and Paul Day from Brookdale Derby in Kansas. The couple credits sharing pleasures and activities together, even as simple as fishing, as a big factor in their 80-year marriage.
  2. Be willing to make a sacrifice.
    Joan and Bob Wallers from Freedom Pointe at The Villages in Florida. The Wallers have been married for 65 years. They met at a college party when Joan offered to teach Bob how to dance. According to the couple, making sacrifices for each other has been the key to sustaining a relationship for decades. “It also requires a lot of love, which is the grease that oils it all,” said Joan.
  3. You better like each other.
    Married 75 years, Janet and William Schlansker believe strong friendship as well as love is key. “You had better like each other,” Janet said. The couple met while riding bikes with friends in middle school, and now reside at Brookdale Niskayuna in New York.
  4. Listen and learn.
    Grace and Don Griffiths have been married 72 years, after meeting as teenagers at the soda fountain where he had a high school job. The couple, who now lives at Brookdale Williamsburg in Virginia, attribute their long-lasting love to listening to the advice of their parents. “Whenever we had a major decision to make, we checked with our parents to get their thoughts,” said Don. “They never gave us bad advice.”
  5. Practice the Golden Rule.
    Treating your spouse like you wish to be treated is important, say Doris and Loren Winfield, who live at Brookdale Cedar Ridge in Oklahoma. The Winfields met after being introduced by Loren’s aunt, who worked with Doris. The two have now been married 69 years.
  6. Let it go.
    Those are the words of wisdom from Doris and Art Feige, who’ve been married 68 years. The couple met when Art was working as a delivery boy and he brought groceries to her parents’ house. The pair, who reside at Brookdale Pinnacle in Ohio, say, “Never stay mad at each other and never forget to say you’re sorry.”
  7. Divide and conquer decisions.
    For Joyce and Ron Foster of Brookdale Germantown in Tennessee, their love story included blending families and a second chance at love. The former widower and divorcee have been married 51 years. Ron jokes, “We agreed that she would make the minor decisions and I would make the major ones. So far, there haven’t been any major decisions.”