Secret to 70-year marriage: Divorce is never an option
WEST GOSHEN » Nick and Jeanette Vita know the statistics all too well — 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.
Yet, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Sept. 27 and they attribute it to determination, and with personal vows that divorce will never be an option.
“There have been times he wanted to get rid of me and I wanted to get rid of him, but we just say no, we love each other and we are determined to stay together,” said Jeanette, 88. “Today, most people don’t even get married. They live together and if they don’t like it, they just leave. But you have to stick it out and try. Sometimes, it’s very, very hard.”
Nick, 93, said a successful marriage is all about compromise.
“We communicate with each other and we compromise,” he said. “If she wants to buy a new dress, I will say OK, but you only spend this amount. And we do a lot of things together. I take care of all the big things and she takes care of the small things. But no big things have ever come up.”
They met each other at a dance. Nick was 21, Jeanette was 16. They quickly fell in love, but Jeanette’s mother had a bad feeling the marriage wouldn’t work. Nick is Italian and Jeanette Irish, a bad combination, she reasoned. But Nick fell into Jeanette’s mother’s good graces, and they mar-
ried at St. Monica’ Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia shortly after Jeanette turned 18.
They married in a year when the average house cost $6,600, the average wage was $2,800 a year, Jackie Robinson broke the
color barrier in baseball and the CIA was formed.
The beginning years were tough because Nick was a staff sergeant in the Army during World War II, and saw time at the Battle of the Bulge. He doesn’t like to talk about it too much today — the memories are painful — but he helped people get out of concentration camps in Germany.
After his service, Nick
found employment working as an assistant engineer for General Electric. He worked there for 44 years and retired in 1986, but continued working as a maintenance man for the next nine years.
Lately, he’s had health issues. He’s had two strokes, a double bypass heart operation and wears a pacemaker. He’s been to Chester County Hospital more
times than he can remember.
“They call him the Iron Man because he’s at the hospital all the time,” Jeanette said. “They have very good doctors there; they keep bringing him back to life.”
The couple has lived on Lorient Drive in West Goshen for the past 20 years, and they say they have the best neighbors in the world.
“The neighbors treat us like family,” Jeanette said. “One year in a blizzard, about 25 people came out to shovel snow out of our driveway so the ambulance could get in. And when (Nick) is in the hospital, they cut our grass and bring food over.”
Jeanette still cooks and cleans the house, but she said over the past year she has been feeling her age.
If they live 20 more years, they will break the world record currently held by Karan and Kartari Chand of Bradford, England, who have been married for 90 years.
“I don’t know if we’ll make it to 75,” Nick told Jeanette, at which she retorted: “Hey, you said we wouldn’t make it to 70.”
Said Nick: “We’ve had a pretty good life.”
Nick and Jeanette Vita celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary earlier this month. They say they made it this long because they promised to stick it out no matter what.
A photo of Nick and Jeanette Vita when they were married on Sept. 27, 1947.