The secret to surviving 73 years of marriage

Have you ever looked at a happy older married couple and wondered what their secret is? While no two marriages are identical, Len and Hilary Board share the recipe from their 73 yearlong marriage.

The couple who reside at Bupa Aged Care in Rangeville, Queensland, have accomplished a feat almost everyone who puts a ring on it aspires to: reaching old age together, sharing the happy times and overcoming the biggest hurdles life has thrown their way.

“I met Hilary at 16 years of age, we played tennis together with a bunch of our friends and things happened from there,” Len said.

“We were both 21 when we got married. In the old days, you strived for honour, love and loyalty. Being honest goes both ways and is key to a long lasting relationship.”

How’d they do it? He attributes their success to being with the right person and by mastering communication, trust and maintaining a strong interest in each other.

“When I joined the Air Force as a navigator, I travelled around Australia for training and then onto England, we were apart for about 2 and a half years.”

“Hilary joined the Navy, she was a ‘‘WRAN’ writer (Women's Royal Australian Navy Service) in the commander’s office for the HMAS Moreton. 

“She looked beautiful then and still is just as beautiful today. She did her best to write to me while we were apart and I always made sure I wrote back.

“After such a long time away from each other and still speaking as much as we could with the same intensity, I knew I had to marry her.

“My father told me to get in there, he said that I couldn’t do any better and I agree, I’m lucky that Hilary and her father were happy with my request of marriage,” he said.

While talking to Len, he recalled the little things that mattered most. Such as the way she still lights up the room, even after all these years or the time he wrote a letter asking for her hand. The perfect pitch in his voice as he belted out words of admiration while describing her successes, the shared smiles and even their differences.

“I was based with the Air Force in Foggia in southern Italy when I wrote to Hilary and her father for permission to tie the knot.”

Being together is really how you keep the spark alive. I always made sure we tried to be happy. Sure, we had our differences but you work through them and around them and get back to being happy again.
Len Board who has been married to Hillary for 73 years.

“Compromise is really the key to getting back to being happy and like I said, being honest goes a long way.”