Se­cret to 70-year mar­riage: Divorce is never an op­tion

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Fran Maye fmaye@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @ken­nettpa­per on Twit­ter

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.

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