Couples who have been married for decades are respected and admired. But how exactly do two people come together to share their lives with such success and longevity?
Danny and Faith Boudreau
Married 42 years
One night in October, Danny and Faith met in the elevator at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where they attended graduate school for social work. They were both 23 years old.
“Danny usually played basketball that night, but because it was raining, he found himself at the library,” Faith says. “He asked me about being in a certain class with him, and I tried to reply coyly, even though I knew he was in that class. We exited the elevator and went to our separate desks at the library, but within minutes he approached me with a question about our mutual class – either indicating that he was not very smart or that he was interested in me.”
“We now have a more mature and relaxed relationship. We know each other’s strengths and shortcomings, so we don’t need to compete or impress one another. Our communication has improved, and so has our patience with one another.”
They talked for the next three hours. Faith says she knew right away that something was different about Danny.
“I phoned my mother late that night and told her that I just met the boy I am going to marry. She told me not to do anything foolish, and I didn’t. Although we started dating that next day, we did not marry until two years later,” Faith says.
After 42 years of marriage, the Boudreaus remain together. The couple moved to Tulsa in 1973 when Danny began law school at The University of Tulsa.
“We have been Oklahomans ever since,” Danny says. “Both of our children, a boy and a girl, were born here, too.”
In the beginning, much of their attention was given to their children and other parts of their lives, Danny says.
“The early years of our marriage were consumed with raising our children, career issues and, in many respects, just growing up together,” he says. “The latter years have allowed us the time to focus on each other and the quality of our marriage.”
And although having children proved to keep the Boudreaus very busy, Faith and Danny agree that the births of their children brought the happiest moments to their marriage.
“They have provided us with immeasurable joy and a healthy dose of humility,” Danny adds.
But no couple is lucky enough to soar from happiness to bliss throughout their entire relationship. Maintaining a successful marriage also means weathering the hardships together. One of the worst came in 2003, when Faith was diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“All at the same time, [Danny] was commuting from Oklahoma City to Tulsa during the week as part of his work. I was still working as a school counselor, and both of our kids were graduating from college. We also assumed responsibility for aging parents. And my progress in treatment was somewhat of a roller coaster ride,” Faith says.
The couple says the entire family’s flexibility, stamina, loyalty and sense of humor pulled them through.
“We also depended on a strong support system of friends and family, faith and hope. We both have been diagnosed with serious illnesses over the years – Dan with rheumatoid arthritis and me with cancer. But we have learned that our love and ability to interact with others and to thrive need not be defined by those challenges,” Faith says.
Today, Danny is a former lawyer and judge who now provides arbitration and mediation services. Faith is a clinical social worker, a job from which one never retires, she says.
“I regularly volunteer at local schools, and I am one of the founding members of Celebrating the Art of Healing, an annual educational symposium for cancer survivors, their caregivers, adult family members and others,” Faith says.
Members of the St. John Siegfried Health Club, the Boudreaus are committed to keeping physically fit. At 67, Danny plays adult competitive soccer and participates in national age-categorized tournaments. They both love to travel.
And after 42 years of marriage, Faith and Danny can say that having a sense of humor, treating one another with respect and, most importantly, communicating are the important ingredients of a lasting relationship.
“We now have a more mature and relaxed relationship. We know each other’s strengths and shortcomings, so we don’t need to compete or impress one another. Our communication has improved, and so has our patience with one another,” Danny says.