This article is the 15th in a 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.
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga.—When Bert and June Wells married in 1972, she was a 34-year-old divorcée and he was a widower 11 years older. Rebounding from stormy first marriages, they married only nine months after meeting. They brought four children—ranging in age from 10 to 16—into their new marriage, along with numerous obstacles.
June had married her first husband when she was just 16 years old, but the marriage later disintegrated in divorce. Bert’s unhappy first marriage ended with the sudden death of his wife from an aneurysm. Her death was so shocking that the police questioned Bert about the circumstances.
Bert himself grew up in a broken home. His divorced parents left him and his sister to be raised mostly by their grandmother and an aunt. After graduating from Georgia Tech, he became a career engineer at Lockheed, with an uncanny ability to immerse himself patiently in a single task.
Despite a limp she carried from a childhood hip injury, June stood tall and slender. Her dazzling smile belied her struggle to raise two children on a modest salary from her bookkeeping job at a music store.
It was love at first sight for Bert and June. After meeting on a blind date that Bert still considers a “miracle,” they saw each other every day but one until their wedding day.
That initial attraction has survived the debris of first marriages, Bert’s cancer and cardiac issues, June’s difficult hysterectomy, aging parents, and their children’s career problems.
The Wells’ marriage has also withstood seemingly incompatible habits and patterns. June likes to travel, but Bert’s version of a vacation is to drive somewhere as fast as possible, stay as short a time as possible, and then drive home as fast as possible. Bert likes to dance, but June has never learned.
Bert’s patience and June’s servant spirit have been crucial in their relationship. June will do any job at any time—the Wellses cannot go to a friend’s house for dinner without June trying to wash the dishes.
Their Christian faith has been the most important ingredient in their reconstructed family. Bert and June have become more intentional—not just at church and Sunday school, but through daily devotional time and earnest prayer.