This article is the 33rd 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.
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo.—In 63 years of marriage, Betty Gasper was most rattled when a cardiologist said her husband, Ken, would need a septuple bypass. “I didn’t handle that well,” Betty recalled. “My knees were like JELL-O.” As the cardiologist explained how his sternum would be cracked open and his heart cut into, Ken’s only question: How long until I can ski again? “If I could have stood without my knees buckling, I would have knocked him out of that bed,” Betty said. But three months later, Ken barreled down powder-white hills again.
Even with her trepidation, Betty doesn’t describe Ken’s bypass, three pacemakers, three eye surgeries, or hernia as challenges: “It goes with life, and you just have to trust in the Lord for whatever comes.”
As they talked over one another with quick quips, the Gaspers recounted all of Ken’s health problems, or when their three adult sons followed them in moving from New Orleans to Manitou Springs, Colo., or how after their house immediately sold they were forced to move into a century-old cabin one-third the size of their former home. But they don’t call any of those challenges.
“We’ve never had any major problems,” Betty said. “We’ve always been blessed.”
“You just live life,” Ken said, shrugging his shoulders.
The sharp-witted couple met in 1948. At a local dance, Betty passed Ken in the stag line and flashed him a look. A year-and-a-half later they wed. Their only hard times came when Ken’s business trips separated them for two or three days. “We’ve always gone everywhere together, so that was misery for me,” Betty said.
The Gaspers view health problems and a major move as nothing more than slight hurdles because they see their commitment to one another as a given, even amid life’s changes. Betty sees their decades together as part of a take-it-as-it-comes marriage. “My philosophy through all of married life: I bloom where I'm planted. I don't care if we have a big house or a little house, as long as the two of us are together. Ken is pretty much the same. We bloom where we’re planted.”