Be a good sport in mar­riage

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

To­day’s brides could learn a thing or two from Tawa woman Doreen Met­calf, who has reached 60 years of wedded bliss.

Mrs Met­calf, 80, and her 83-year-old hus­band, Jack, cel­e­brated their di­a­mond wed­ding an­niver­sary last week, sur­rounded by fam­ily.

Com­pro­mise and tol­er­ance are the key to a long mar­riage, Mrs Met­calf says, and there are times in her mar­ried life when she has dis­played the kind of lov­ing un­der­stand­ing we don’t of­ten see in young brides to­day.

The Met­calfs were mar­ried in St John’s church, Wil­lis St, on Septem­ber 8, 1951. The cer­e­mony was un­usu­ally late, 4.30pm, to ac­com­mo­date Mr Met­calf, a keen crick­eter, who wanted to catch the day’s games at the Basin Re­serve.

Other spec­ta­tors won­dered why so many in the crowd were dressed as if for a wed­ding – Mr Met­calf and his team were wear­ing their Sun­day best to save chang­ing be­fore the cer­e­mony.

En route to New Ply­mouth and Ro­torua for their hon­ey­moon, Mrs Met­calf was confused to find the car head­ing for Palmer­ston North – un­til she saw Mr Met­calf’s soc­cer team, the Di­a­monds, were in town.

‘‘Soc­cer still took over,’’ Mr Met­calf says.

The cou­ple had be­gun court­ing four years be­fore their wed­ding, af­ter meet­ing at a Para­pa­raumu hol­i­day camp.

‘‘I met him when I was 16 – a school­girl crush,’’ Mrs Met­calf says.

Their dates of­ten in­volved Mrs Met­calf perch­ing at the front of Mr Met­calf’s bi­cy­cle and vis­it­ing cricket grounds around Welling­ton, so she must have had an inkling of the sport­ing theme that would run through their mar­riage.

Years later, Mr Met­calf turned the cou­ple’s lounge room into an in­door bowls court.

‘‘You’ve kind of got to com­pro­mise,’’ Mrs Met­calf says. ‘‘ You meet them half­way. Don’t try and change them. If you’re go­ing well, keep do­ing the same thing.’’

Mrs Met­calf is not sure how use­ful her ad­vice is to mod­ern cou­ples, how­ever, since times were so dif­fer­ent when she got mar­ried. Cou­ples would never live to­gether be­fore mar­riage, and divorce was shame­ful, she says.

‘‘ I think in many ways our whole gen­er­a­tion was afraid of their par­ents.’’

Far from be­ing a ‘‘bridezilla’’, Mrs Met­calf had her wed­ding or­gan­ised by her mother, who made her dress and catered the re­cep­tion – jelly, tri­fle and fruit salad.

Money was tight in the early days, and the newly-mar­ried cou­ple lived in a four-man shed on their Tawa prop­erty for three years be­fore builder Mr Met­calf could af­ford to put up a proper house, the one they still live in to­day.

Mrs Met­calf had three sons while liv­ing in the shed, and later man­aged to pro­vide for her five chil­dren on £5 a week.

The cou­ple are proud their house was a hub of fun and ac­tiv­ity through the years.

‘‘On a Mon­day I baked and my back­yard was full of kids,’’ Mrs Met­calf says.

Their lives are a tes­ta­ment to the value of stay­ing for the long haul. ‘‘It’s easy to walk out of a mar­riage but it’s hard to walk back in,’’ Mrs Met­calf says.

Sixty strong: Tawa’s Doreen and Jack Met­calf, mar­ried 60 years, could teach to­day’s cou­ples a thing or two about re­la­tion­ships.

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