Aileen and Jeff Martin have been married 60 years and they’re still going strong
The Murray Bridge couple have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.
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Every year around this time, Jeff and Aileen Martin get the decorations out of storage and put them up on their house on Leslie Street, Murray Bridge.
There are reindeer and carollers to arrange, a Father Christmas to stick up on the roof and a message: “merry Christmas to everyone”.
They usually enlist a few helping hands these days, though.
After all, they’ve been hanging those decorations every year since they built the place, early on in their marriage.
They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last Thursday, November 25.
About 100 people joined the couple for a party in the Murray Bridge Uniting Church hall on the Sunday beforehand.
All but one member of the Martins’ wedding party – Aileen’s late sister Margaret – were able to make it on the day: bridesmaid Valmae Herrman, nee Wells; best man Ray Rawlins; groomsman Geoff Treloar; and flower girl Pauline Pittaway, nee Murray.
Still, to say the Martins hit it off immediately in their younger years would be bending the truth.
“He was my brother’s young friend who I thought was stupid, with big ears,” Mrs Martin laughed.
“I thought she was a real square,” Mr Martin shot back with a grin.
He was an ambulance volunteer at the time.
But his parents didn’t have a private telephone in the SA Railways cottage where they lived; so, whenever he was on duty, young Mr Martin sat by the phone at his friend’s house.
In time he found his friend’s sister wasn’t that bad.
They were married in the old Murray Bridge Methodist Church on Third Street on November 25, 1961.
At first they lived in a two-room flat on Adelaide Road; then at Tailem Bend for a while, after Mr Martin was put in charge of Duttons’ workshop there.
In 1967 they moved to their present home on Leslie Street, which was on Murray Bridge’s outskirts at the time.
Mr Martin built the house and most of the furniture in it.
Fifty-four years later, they’re still there.
He spent decades solving problems at Dutton’s, Kuchel Excavation and a daycare centre; she was an Avon lady for almost half a century.
In the intervening years they sent their children, Andrew and Lyn, to south school and became involved with more than their share of community groups: Friendship Force, the Uniting Church thrift shop, Players and Singers, mothers and babies, school welfare, Lerwin, Meals on Wheels, the auto collectors club, the talking newspaper and the agricultural and horticultural society, where Mrs Martin is a life member.
Mr Martin even ran in the torch relay ahead of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The longevity of their marriage begged the question: how had they kept their relationship strong for a lifetime?
“If something goes wrong in your life, fix it immediately or otherwise you’ll forget about it and you’ll only hurt yourself (later),” Mrs Martin said.
“It’s a long travel and the road gets rough sometimes, but you hang in there and learn how to travel the road.”
A husband and wife had to disagree sometimes, Mr Martin said, “but never, ever hold a grudge ... talk through it”.
The couple were grateful for the friends and family members who had supported them over the years, and continued to do so.
“We’re looking forward to our 70th,” Mr Martin said with a smile.