Be a good sport in marriage
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.