Occasionally you will meet someone who have recently celebrated their silver or golden wedding anniversary. You may wonder what they have that you or others do not have that has kept them together for these many years.

These next pages reflect the thinking of one man as he thinks back over the more than 53 years of married life.

What made it work?
What can you do to keep the lady in your life happy?
Can you be a better husband?
Five problems to avoid for a Longer Marriage
When does Like become Love?
Stresses and strains must be overcome.


By the time you reach your 50th birthday you will have gained a great deal of knowledge in this life. You can pretty well figure that you have used up half of the days the guy upstairs has you down for in the book of life. Your name and time are in there, you just have no idea on what page your name is listed.

By now you have a great many answers of what this world is made of and what makes things tick. You know how to interact and get along with others as well as stay out of trouble. Experience has taught you this while attending the “School of Hard Knocks”.

This then is how I feel as my wife, Irma and I have just this day reached not our 50th birthday, but our 50th Wedding Anniversary!

My name is Joe Mac Millan and I write this book not only to tell you about the finest, most beautiful, warm, friendly, loving human being I have ever met and luckily married but to also tell you about some of the pitfalls I have encountered.

 I want to tell you what I have learned about marriage, and suggest things you, as a man, must do to keep your wife happy and loving you for the rest of your life.

You may be recently married or you have a few years under your belt. Hopefully your marriage is working for you both. Perhaps I will mention something that will help put a little spark in there for you.

So here we go. A man-to-man look at what it meant when you and all the rest of the men stood before the Minister, Priest, or Justice of the Peace as well as family, friends and your chosen life mate and swore to all who would listen these words …

"I, ___ take you, ___ for my wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

How it was in those days way back then.

Back in 1957, the institution of marriage was very different than it is today. Social life in general was very different also. For instance, two people would meet. They would agree to a few dates. A date would mean going out to a dance or a movie or skating or just simply shooting the drag. Most of us didn’t own a car so we would date as a group. A lot of us walked.

A date never meant going to bed with a girl. That was almost rare. Well, you might have heard of it but probably 99 times out of 100 it was bravado you were hearing. We were left with a choice. Do without or get married. This pertained to both sexes by the way. We lived in a different world, that was for sure.

In those days, a girl did not want to be known as “loose” because she would certainly not be the type you would take home and introduce to your parents.

During those dates, the guys and girls took care to size their partners up as a life partner. The sexual part had to be the great unknown until you bought into the lifetime contract of marriage. The good part of the deal was that you both learned all about it yourselves. It was like buying a brand new car. You were the first to drive it. This is the only way I can compare it. It’s beautiful, drives like a dream, and doesn’t have a scratch on it. You love it. I’m sure the both partners thought the same way.  I strongly believe that people today are missing this feeling. Plenty do not even marry. Why marry when you can enter into an arrangement that allows you to walk free if you so desire without commitment?

How it all began for Irma and Me.

Someone was shaking me. I heard a voice call, “Mac, Mac, wake up.” I opened my eyes to see my friend, Benny. He was in uniform. He still wore his hat. He must have just come aboard the ship.

“What do you want? What time is it?” I asked as I tried to get my brain working.

“Mac, you really have to come on a double date with me and my girlfriend and her sister. You must come. Her sister is really beautiful.”

“Benny, for God’s sake, it’s after midnight!  I worked all day and am dead tired. What is going on?”

“Remember the other day when I told you about my girlfriend, Anna and that she has a sister, Irma?  Well, I talked with them tonight and they agreed to a double date. Will you come?”

“I can’t believe you woke me up to tell me this you nutcase. It’s after midnight. Couldn’t you have waited until morning to ask me?”

“No, I want an answer now. I have to know.”

My thoughts flashed back over the last week. Benny had found a girlfriend and had asked me on numerous occasions to double date. I kept putting him off as I didn’t want any more dates with weird girls. We were in the Royal Canadian Navy, serving in HMCS Fundy, a minesweeper based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As young sailors we met a few loose girls. My last date was a real dingbat and I wasn’t really looking forward to another one. Benny was not exactly the discriminating type. Taking him up on his offer didn’t really appeal to me.

 “If it is that important to you, then okay, set it up now and let me get back to sleep,” I told him and rolled over and tried to get some Z’s.

That was January 2, 1957. As I tried to get back to sleep, I certainly never gave it a thought that 51 years later Irma and I would be celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Life is so strange; there is no way to predict what will happen.

The next evening Benny and I left the ship and walked the two miles to Queen St.  After we knocked on the door I had a strange feeling come over me. I can’t explain what it was to this day. Something was telling me this date would be different than the others. The door opened and there standing before us were two of the prettiest girls I had ever seen. Benny introduced us. Irma was incredible!  The first thing I noticed was her beautiful smile.  She had naturally curly hair. It was like a halo framing the prettiest face on earth.

She and Anna were so clean. Everything about them was neat including their clothing and hair and they wore minimal makeup. Even their one-room flat was clean, neat and tidy. They had worked at their jobs all day, came home, ate dinner, changed clothes for the evening and nothing was out of place.

We went out for a walk for a while. We stopped for a cup of tea at a restaurant and after talking until after 11 pm, I dared to kiss her before we left. I was hooked! Walking back to our ship, Benny asked me what I thought of her. I told him that this was the girl I was going to marry someday. I meant it. We arrived back on our ship after midnight. The mess was alive with all our mates watching the late movie. Steaks and fries were being fried up in the galley. I don’t remember the movie but I certainly went to bed that night with my belly full and my mind racing with thoughts of the future.