Thursday, November 26, 2015 • 08:06

Still together after all these years

February 13, 2014
Every year Valentine's Day is billed as a day to spring for some fancy chocolates or go out for a romantic evening on the town. However, it's also an occasion to reflect on what makes a relationship strong.

After more than 54 years of marriage, 3 children, and 4 grandchildren, Valley Roadrunner columnist Doug Ives and his wife Emily know a thing or two about sticking it out through the ups and downs of a committed relationship. Both their household and the society around them have changed a great deal since they tied the knot in 1959, but they have kept their marriage intact by evolving with the times.

Doug and Emily first met in the tenth grade at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. One day Doug walked out of class and saw Emily standing with some of her friends, and the rest is history. "I was smitten then, without a doubt," said Doug. "Love at first sight, at least on one side."

Doug and Emily went steady in high school but broke up when they went away to separate colleges. However, if Doug brought any other girls home to visit, his parents would inevitably ask, "Where's Emily?" "We always got along, and even when we left each other I think we were still thinking of each other on some level at some time. I dated other people, she dated other people, and then I said 'what am I thinking?'" said Doug. They soon reunited and were married in August of 1959.

Doug worked at the Press Telegram in Long Beach for 25 years, while Emily was the devoted housewife. However, as the women's movement of the sixties arrived, their roles in the marriage began to shift.

"When I got married I was taught and learned at home to be more or less of a traditional wife that did all the household things and took care of this children and did all the cooking," said Emily. "As the sixties came and the feminist movement came in, I realized there was more to life than just being a household slave, so to speak. I became pretty much a feminist. I had consciousness meetings in my house with a group of friends, and I began to grow out of just being a homemaker. I was still a homemaker, but I grew, life opened for me, the world opened up for me."

The transition was a little difficult for Doug, but he eventually adjusted to Emily's evolution. "I am not the president and she is the vice president. We are both presidents now," said Doug. "We solve problems jointly now. We don't always agree, but in earlier generations the roles were defined. The men were in charge of making a living, making the financial decisions, and the wife was in charge of the household. It was pretty split. It's different now."

"What happens in a good marriage is they start sharing much more," said Doug. "There's jobs to be done all the time and we do them together. And it could be anything from cooking, doing the dishes, cleaning, whatever. Two people become one in our case. It just becomes one. And you don't ask the other why this didn't get done. One or the other just does it ."

After 25 years of newspaper life, raising two daughters and a son with schizophrenia, Doug decided he needed a change and left the newspaper to start a professional golf tour. The Ives moved to Fallbrook, and at 50, Emily got her pilot's license.

"I took my lessons and learned to fly and it was hard work because I hadn't ever done that before, but it was a mark of independence, so to speak," said Emily. Eventually the Ives moved into the Pauma Valley Country Club in a house Emily designed herself, where they have remained for the last 21 years. Emily's adventurous spirit is always ready for another move, and it could just be a matter of time until they uproot and make their home somewhere else.

Doug and Emily attribute their lasting marriage to the strong example set by their parents, frugal habits, their Christian values, and the mutual respect that has developed over half a century. "It starts with love and passion, but it does get to trust and friendliness and reliability," said Doug. "We're each other's best friends."

Although there are many things they enjoy doing together, such as going out to dinner, seeing movies, doing crossword puzzles, and going for walks, Doug and Emily both pursue their own separate interests. Doug is more interested in following sports and playing golf while Emily has pursued things like yoga and women's groups.

"Each person should try to develop his or her own talents and interests and work at them because it makes each a more interesting personality, which adds to the excitement and enthusiasm in the marriage," said Emily. Both of their daughters have remained married for over 20 years and family remains an absolutely essential aspect of both Doug and Emily's lives. If there's one piece of advice they would pass on to young couples today, it would be the importance of commitment.

"If you decide to get married, make it a commitment that you intend for it to work," said Emily. "We had not thought that if it doesn't work I can leave. That wasn't in our thought process." Doug and Emily have no big plans for Valentine's Day, because as each other's best friends, they have no need to go out. "We've done a lot of fun things together," said Doug. "Every day is special with Emily."

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