CUMMING, Ga. — Listening to Doug and Ruth Huggins talk about their marriage is like being handed a how-to book on love.
After 70 years of marriage, they know what works and what doesn’t. The couple got married on Dec. 13, 1942, when Ruth was 19 and Doug was 20.
“A good marriage makes you live longer,” Doug, 90, said. “And we have a lot to celebrate.”
Yes, they do.
Seventy years married is almost unheard of today.
“People don’t give marriage enough time anymore,” Ruth, 89, said. “And they expect too much. Nobody is perfect.”
But the way Doug looks at Ruth says something different. His eyes sparkle when she speaks; his grin stretches from ear to ear. The man is in love.
Doug and Ruth met at a merry-go-round and shortly after, Doug was shipped out for World War II. He courted Ruth from thousands of miles away.
“We wrote letters,” Doug said.
She’d already fallen for him.
“He was really nice looking,” she said.
Ruth said she recently read some of the letters.
“I am so embarrassed,” Ruth said. “I complained a lot.”
Doug said he didn’t care about the complaining, he was just happy to read her letters.
Ruth’s eyes sparkle as much as Doug’s.
“He makes me breakfast and brings me coffee every day,” she said.
That’s every single day, since he retired 23 years ago.
They said there are several reasons their relationship has lasted, but that absolute honesty is the real key and no hanky panky, Doug said.
“No hanky panky,” Ruth agreed. “There were times in the beginning when I threatened to go home to my mother, but I couldn’t because she liked him more.”
Doug, who used to work as a manufacturer’s rep and traveled quite a bit, said he knew she wouldn’t have really left.
“He was gone Monday through Friday and when he came home, he wanted to stay home, but I wanted to go out to eat because I’d been home all week,” Ruth said.
Doug laughed and said this was their biggest issue.
“You have to say, ‘yes dear,’ and go out to eat a lot,” Doug said.
He knew they were meant to be together.
Neither could name a time when things weren’t good between them, or when it wasn’t easy, and they laughed at the shared memories.
“You have to respect each other,” Ruth said. “No marriage can work if you don’t respect your spouse. You have to treat your spouse with integrity.”
Both feel their marriage has been wonderful, but say their biggest success is their children.
The couple has a daughter, Judi Hendricks, and a son, Doug, both in their 60s. They have two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Hendricks said her parents taught by example.
“They taught us love, respect, consideration and kindness by example, by being that way to each other, and to us,” Hendricks said.
Sometimes it feels like they were just married yesterday, Doug said.
“These 70 years have gone by fast,” Ruth said. “People don’t give marriage enough time anymore. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”