On February 8th, 2013, Dallas Texas couple Dave and Grace Fleischer celebrated their sixty-fifth anniversary. According to divorcerate.org, the divorce rate in America for a first marriage is 41%, the rate for a second marriage jumps to 60% and the rate for the third is a whopping 73%! With these astounding figures, we scratch our heads and marvel, “How do they do it?” or more importantly, “How could they stand each other for that long?”
When asked how they would advise young married couples today, Grace Fleischer stated matter-of-factly, “Love each other”. But her answer seems too simple, too easy, especially when we have experienced difficult, trying times in our own relationships. Sadly, love alone doesn’t seem like enough.
But, Dave Fleischer revealed that they’ve had plenty of hard times themselves throughout their sixty-five years together. “You love and stay with each other, regardless”, he said. “In ’83, or even before that, when I lost my business, we just had tough times, but just had to stick it out and stay with each other”. To make matters worse, they also almost lost their home. “I think that would be about the worst [time] I can remember,” Dave reminisced.
Growing older provided additional challenges for Dave and Grace Fleischer. Grace had a brain operation in 2004 and has trouble getting around, often needing a wheelchair or walker and Dave took a year hiatus from his enjoyable 20-year retirement career as a school crossing guard because he fell and broke his hip last year. Despite these pitfalls, he plans to go back to work this August and is looking forward to “seeing [the] kids and helping them cross the street… [and having] a little bit of income.”
The most compelling part of their sixty-five years of marriage is the fact that Grace and Dave are far from being the perfect couple. Couples often find that with difficult times come fights and arguments, and the Fleischer’s are no exception. Dave said that they still have their squabbles and fondly remembered what Grace used to do when they weren’t getting along, “She always got mad at me when we [were] in the car and she would wanna open the door and jump out when the car was moving!”
In addition, Grace revealed that she “can’t remember” if her husband Dave was even in the top ten handsomest men she had ever met and when asked if she thought he was handsome today, she quipped, “If he puts his teeth in”. But physical attraction is hardly strong enough to keep a marriage going, and what Grace loves most about Dave is that he does things for her. Grace never learned how to drive a car, so Dave must drive her everywhere she needs to go. Although Dave believes that Grace was and is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, he, like Grace, appreciates his mate not only for her physical attributes, but because she is there for him. Dave stated, “She is compassionate, looks after me, and takes care of me and I do the same for her.”
So what’s their secret? They went through lots of rough patches, fought, and argued over the years, but yet they are still together after everything, wanting to take care of each other, after most people would have given up. Spending time with one another has significantly helped them “stick through” the tougher times and helped their love evolve over time. Dave noted that over the years, they’ve spent quality time together; when they were younger, they rode together to the Jewish community center on his motorcycle and after work, Grace came to Dave’s barbeque store and cashiered for him. These days, simple pleasures such as playing cards with another couple, spending time with their three grandchildren, visiting the casinos once in a while, and attending the Dallas summer musicals provide satisfying time together for Dave and Grace.
So really, love alone isn’t enough. Couples “promise” their vows at the altar, but as Dave and Grace prove, couples must instead commit to their marriages; they must stick to each other and spend quality time together, despite the challenges that each inevitably faces some time or another in their relationship. Dave and Grace Fleischer illustrate that in order to keep a marriage going strong, love must be at the core of the relationship, surrounded by a wealth of compassion, commitment and communication. “That’s what I’d advise anybody that’s married or getting married,” Dave said, “to love each other and do for each other and…not fuss and fight.”
By Robin Nennig of Diamond Cutters International