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John and Jackie Par­miter, mar­ried 45 years

We met in Malta, in 1968 when I was 16 and John was 18, and mar­ried in Lon­don five years later. Nei­ther of us had a back­ground of long, stable mar­riages but we had a foun­da­tion of com­mit­ment. Now, we’ve been through highs, lows and medi­ums I re­alise it is this that gets you through the tough times, rather than feel­ings.

We had four chil­dren and even in the depths of par­ent­hood we’d al­ways spend some time, just us, to­gether in the kitchen in the evenings.

We don’t have ev­ery­thing in com­mon: John en­joys go­ing to mu­se­ums, and look­ing at build­ings, while I’m not so keen – but we’ve al­ways en­joyed plan­ning hol­i­days to­gether and have had a mu­tual love of rais­ing our fam­ily to­gether. JOHN: When we were abroad, our chil­dren used to get hacked off with us for day­dream­ing at es­tate agent’s win­dows but we’ve al­ways en­joyed think­ing up new ways to have fun. We had a time­share in the Caribbean for 20 years, which gave us an op­por­tu­nity to recharge and now we en­joy city breaks and hol­i­days with our 11 grand­chil­dren. JACKIE: The most dif­fi­cult ad­just­ment was when our chil­dren left home. We booked on to the Mar­riage Course, which re­ally helped us to see things from the other’s per­spec­tive, and then we re­newed our vows in front of our friends on our 25th wed­ding an­niver­sary – it’s so im­por­tant to keep cel­e­brat­ing mile­stones. JOHN: Our friends have been an in­trin­sic part of

We were re­ally good friends for five years be­fore we got to­gether, and when we mar­ried aged 27 we agreed there was no es­cape clause. This has proved to be the bedrock of our mar­riage. PHILIP: Soon af­ter, we had twins, which meant I had to be very in­volved from the start, which was a good thing. We mud­dled through to­gether, and had two more chil­dren. MOYNE: It wasn’t plain sail­ing with four young chil­dren – there were pres­sure points. We tried to make a distinc­tion be­tween day­time and evening, get­ting the chil­dren in bed on time so we could have a glass of wine to­gether. If we’d fo­cused all our at­ten­tion on them we would have ig­nored each other. PHILIP: It’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that small acts of kind­ness and grat­i­tude can go a long way. MOYNE: We’re in a new sea­son of mar­riage now the chil­dren have left home:

NICKY: I’m crazily in love with Pippa; I still feel ex­cited about see­ing her. Not many peo­ple say this, so I keep quiet – I do believe I got lucky. PIPPA: Nicky was 22 and I was 23 when we mar­ried, and I think our naivety helped. There is so much pres­sure now to have a Hol­ly­wood-style wed­ding but ours wasn’t like that. We mar­ried at Holy Trin­ity Bromp­ton, the church we’ve worked at our whole lives, in a hall which looked like a gym, and then hon­ey­mooned in Scot­land. We be­lieved that God had brought us to­gether. NICKY: Our first house was a one-room stu­dio, with a gas cooker at the end of the bed. We’d never even been out to din­ner be­fore we got mar­ried. PIPPA: When our three chil­dren came along, we hadn’t got a clue how to be par­ents and it was hard work – but at least no one was watch­ing. There’s so much pres­sure to be a good par­ent these days. I’m sure date nights would have made things even bet­ter, but we didn’t know about them. When we trav­elled for work we went as a pack, with the chil­dren. NICKY: The d-word has never been said in our house­hold, not even as a joke. The vicar who mar­ried us said it’s re­ally im­por­tant never to think of the al­ter­na­tive. PIPPA: Our shared pas­sion has al­ways been our job, which we’ve done to­gether since the be­gin­ning so we haven’t had to search for joint in­ter­ests. We also have our own hob­bies: Nicky plays squash and goes to the gym and I do Pi­lates. If I’d been liv­ing in the coun­try when the chil­dren moved away it would have been harder – but we love our job and have peo­ple around us, so there’s never been an empty nest. We now have seven grand­chil­dren, so our chil­dren need us again. NICKY: Pippa is my spir­i­tual ad­viser, my best friend and there is a ro­man­tic side too – it re­ally is quite un­usual. PIPPA: Our older friends have shown us that there is noth­ing sweeter than a mar­riage that lasts all your life. It is so beau­ti­ful to have gone through life and to feel peace­ful to­gether at the end.

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