Walt and Nancy, Est. 1975

Walt and Nancy are the kind of couple you might pass on the street or in the grocery store and never take a second look. They’ve described themselves as ordinary, boring even. But, that is not at all what I see when I look at them. I’ve been watching them for a few years now and what I see is actually quite extraordinary. They are people I admire and love to be around. They are a couple who care deeply and remember the details of other peoples’ lives. They serve each other and are quietly generous to everyone around them. So, as Tony and I have been on this pursuit to stay married and glean wisdom from others, it was only natural to invite Walt and Nancy over for dinner and ask them everything we could think of about their marriage and how they are making it work.

Here, in our very first Real Couple Interview, is what they shared with us…

How long have you been married?

It will be 37 years on November 28th!

Happy Anniversary! How did you meet?

I, Nancy, was working at a church that met in a theater. There was a lot of set-up and tear-down, so I always relied on volunteers to help me get things ready on Sunday mornings. I usually showed up with a list of people, some of them I knew and some I didn’t. One Sunday morning, as I was looking for my helpers, I saw a really good looking man meandering around the front of the auditorium. I walked up to him and asked him if he was here to help. He told me “no,” but then surprised me by jumping in anyway. I never caught his name, but I did go back and tell a girlfriend that I had just met the cutest guy! It took a couple more encounters before we were formally introduced. Then we began hanging out with the same group after church and at church events. We knew we liked each other right away.

How long after you met did you get married?

{Walt} Well, we met on January 30th, 1975. I’ll never forget because I met her the very day I accepted Christ. Like Nancy said, we hung around the same group of people for a while. We always say our first real date was at the Puyallup Fair that same year in September. We went with another couple, all of us just as friends.

{Nancy} Yeah, that’s where we hooked up.

Nancy! What do you mean “hooked up”!?!

Well, we kept sneaking off by ourselves. We were kissing. We didn’t say anything to the other couple. But, we were holding hands and really falling in love. We pulled off a big wedding just a couple of months later.


What were your early days like?

{Walt} We weren’t exactly typical newlyweds. I had been married before and had two kids. My son lived with me, so when we got married we were immediately a family of three in one house.

{Nancy} Yeah, I was a new bride at 24 years old and already I’ve got a twelve year old son! I mean, I couldn’t exactly prance around the house in a little nightie to surprise my new husband. We were rarely alone. From early on we had to be purposeful about connecting with each other, purposeful about making time for ourselves, purposeful even about our sex life. Right away we made it a yearly ritual to take a summer trip, just the two of us, to Wenatchee. This way we could spend time just as a couple, even if it was just two or three nights. We’ve continued to do this over the years.

Nowadays, statistics aren’t very friendly for blended families and second marriages. (Source)
What would you say were your biggest challenges in this area? How did you handle it?

{Nancy} Oh gosh, I was so naive. As a newlywed, I really wanted to please my new husband. I remember working hard one day to make meatloaf for Walt for dinner and the (his) two kids were home. They asked what was for dinner and when I told them, they went on and on about how their dad hated meatloaf. I ended up making this boxed dinner that turned out awful. I was so embarrassed. I apologized to Walt and told him the other option would have been meatloaf, which the kids told me he didn’t like. Walt told me, with a bewildered look on his face, “I really like meatloaf. That would have been fine.” That was the first time the kids pulled one over on me. After that, it was important to Walt and I that we were on the same team when it came to parenting the kids. Even though they already had a mother, Walt backed and supported me and made sure the kids knew we were making parenting decisions together. It wasn’t ideal, and it was rough on all of us at times, but knowing Walt and I were in it together gave me confidence in our relationship.


What is one thing in your marriage that you feel like you have conquered together?

Well, we haven’t exactly conquered it, but I (Walt) have lung cancer. I’m on an oxygen machine and absolutely everything takes me a lot longer than it should. Without Nancy by my side, I know I would just feel sorry for myself. Her patience and strength are remarkable. I used to be a lot more helpful around the house and now, just getting myself dressed is a labored effort. She has never complained to me about doing the things I used to do, like bringing in the heavy groceries from the car. Nancy is amazing, and I know I owe a lot of my good health to her.

What are you favorite things about each other?

Well, as I mentioned, Nancy’s strength has really pulled me through. She is committed to me, to our family, and that is evident in everything she does. She is the sweetest woman, my best friend.

{Nancy} Yes, Walt is the man I had always prayed for. He is my gift from God. He prays with me and for me. He is a good husband and a good father. Watching him be a grandfather is another special treat. I love that we are so connected. He’s never made me feel like I needed to check in when I was out, but somehow we always know where each other is on the rare occasions that we are a part. We really do love to be together.

What advice would you give to young couples who want to #staymarried?

{Walt} Don’t miss an opportunity to be with your wife! Staying married is not all there is. At our age, we know couples that have been married thirty years or more, but they really aren’t together. They live in separate bedrooms, some in separate houses, vacation separately, and don’t have any shared interests. Nancy and I spend a lot of time together, even doing things the other might not love so much. You know, shopping is not on my list of favorite activities, but I go with her so I can be near her. We take drives together just to talk. I know couples where the wife goes on a vacation to be with the girls or the husband takes off on a hunting trip for days at a time. I think that’s fine, but if you don’t vacation together or spend time doing other things together like just the regular errands, how can you expect your bond to grow? It’s important to be together and not leave each other behind.

Congrats on 37 years, Walt and Nancy! Tony and I are so thankful for couples like you who light the way for the rest of us. Happy Anniversary!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and think it could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. Also, if you’re new here, welcome! You might like to check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background. Thanks for stopping by!
~ Michelle