Matched: Love and Longevity

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)- The secret to a long lasting marriage? There isn’t one.

But here in eastern North Carolina, two couples who have been married for more than half a century know a thing or two about marriage.

From World War ll to great-grandchildren, these couples have endured a lifetime of love and devotion to one another. They did it all in a way generations today could never imagine.

“Marriage doesn’t mean today what it did when we got married,” said Jim Hardison.

Jim and Elva Hardison have been married for 70 years.

“We felt like we’ve known each other all our lives. I felt like he was the boy next door really from day one,” said Elva Hardison,” he was easy to get to know.”

It was 1945, Jim was in Mississippi serving with the navy and Elva was sitting in her high school cafeteria in North Carolina when fate brought them together. Little did he know his future pen pal would become his future wife.

“He wrote more than I did. A lot more than I did,” said Elva, “I would write occasionally and he would write me every time he would get off of duty”-Elva

“I kept her busy reading the letters so she wouldn’t have any chance to talk to anyone else,” said Jim.

Six months of writing one another led to their first date and they’ve been together ever since.

Down the road in Snow Hill, Gene and Grace Myatt were just young kids who rode the same bus to school.

“She lived on the right side of where I lived and another young lady lived on the left side of where I lived,” said Gene, “and both of them were good looking.”

Gene patiently had to wait a couple of years until Grace was old enough to date.

“A mutual friend that we both knew brought him to my house to see me,” said Grace.

“It wasn’t hard, not when I went to see her,” said Gene, “that done away with the one that lived on the left.”

For the past 61 years they’ve been inseparable.

“I lived for Saturdays and Sundays, and Wednesday nights. That was the peak of your week,” said Grace, “you worked, but it was Wednesday today so I would see him tonight that kind of thing.”

For decades, the Myatts and Hardisons never once sent a text or called each other, a concept society today could never imagine.

“Electrical data, there is nothing personal about it,” said Jim, “the personal meeting and talking. You can’t even go out to eat a meal now without having to text a message to someone. It’s really taking away the personalities involved with the personal touch, the immediate presence.”

From their early dating days to today, the couples credit the longevity of their marriage to personal communication and a love triangle with god- not technology.

“Saturday night I’d say I’ll be back Sunday afternoon or Sunday night. And that was it,” said Gene, “you didn’t get home and call and say I can’t make it.”

“If you didn’t make it you were in trouble,” said Grace.

Life’s greatest moments were celebrated and struggles were talked through.

“We are an imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There has to be give and take,” said Jim, “I’m not a perfect person and she’s not, but we recognize that and respect.”

“In other words, you treat her like a queen and in return she treats you like a king,” said Gene, “that’s what life needs to be and ott to be.”

Communication and faith in one another is what they say strengthens their marriage to see another tomorrow.

“I love him just as more than I did when I first met him,” said Grace.

“Same here,” adds Gene.

“I’d do anything for him to make him happy,” said Grace.

“I want to be here for her for whatever comes, I sure do,” said Gene.

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