This article is the fourth in an occasional online series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, "Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it." It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
FRANKLIN, W.Va.—Byrd and Vera Teter became husband and wife in 1949—and 63 years later they are still married. The key, Vera said, is to “learn to see each other as God’s property”
When they married, Byrd was a full-time dental school student while Vera worked as a nurse, and money was tight. With a monthly budget of $178 they didn’t want to pay bus fare, so they each walked 17 blocks twice a day to school and work—and that allowed them to save $25 a month, which helped as they had five children in their first decade of marriage.
With parenting came difficulties. One morning, their third child, Gary, who was 15 months old, woke up with a mysterious eye inflammation that eventually led to the loss of the eye. Their firstborn, Don, faced a life-threatening virus at age 9. Doctors in the hospital told Vera that if Don could hold on for several days he would probably live. Seeing her children as God’s property, Vera stepped into an empty stairwell to pray: “Lord, he’s your child, too, and you love him as much as I do.”
Don lived, but for years Vera couldn’t speak of that moment without tears: “That was a real testing time. We drew on our faith.” They also drew on support from their local congregation, and church life remained a constant through the years.
Byrd looks back at challenges and recalls, “Those things you thought were mountains … you find out they’re just molehills.” He also looks back fondly on the decision to marry while still in school: “If you’re in love, why put it off?”