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Faith: the secret to 50+ years of marriage

Created date

January 25th, 2010

For Ray and Barbara Schmitt, the secret to their 51 years of successful marriage has been respect for one another and a strong, shared faith. It s really simple, Barbara says. The key to making it last is having a common faith and always putting the other person first. Through all of our years together, there s never been a time where we haven t done that. If you do those things, says Ray, you work together for the same goals.

Foundation for lasting love

The couple s love story began 53 years ago. He was in college and she was finishing up high school in Clifton, N.J. We actually met at church so it s appropriate how our lives and faiths have developed together. We were both volunteering and met one day during the summer, says Barbara. Then he went away to school, and when he came back for a dance, we ended up seeing each other again. We just hit it off from there, Ray says. After two years of dating, the couple got married and moved into an apartment in Passaic, N.J. A year later, they gave birth to their first child, and just 14 short months after that, they welcomed triplets. The Schmitts ended up with six children. At one point, five of them were under the age of two and a half. We went through 500 diapers a week, Barbara says with a laugh. And those were the days before they had disposables. One of the best and most challenging things the couple ever did was raise their children. It was a lot to do, she says, but it made us come together as a family and a couple. You are a team, and you have to be on the same page with your spouse. That s where having the same morals and beliefs comes in. You can t be wishy-washy. If you said yes or no to one, you said it to all six [of the children]. I always said havingchildren was like a tunnel, Ray says with a smile. At the end of the tunnel there is a light, but it is just a real long tunnel.

A sudden move

With their expanding family, the Schmitts outgrew their home in Passaic Park and moved to a larger place in Kinnelon, where they spent 20 years before moving again to Mountain Lakes. Finally, they had simply had enough. Ray looked at me one day and said he was done raking leaves, Barbara recalls. I said that was a great idea and that we should hire someone to do the work. And he said, No, I mean I m done raking leaves for good. We re moving toCedar Cresttoday. I couldn t argue with him, Barbara says. I was done cleaning that big old house too. And I figured we had 20 happy years at Kinnelon and 20 happy years at Mountain Lakes, so I am pretty sure we have another 20 years to enjoy together here atCedar Crest.

Time well spent

With the kids raised (now having children of their own), the couple finally has some time to pursue their individual passions atCedar Crest. Ray reads, works out in the fitness center, and socializes with friends over a cup of coffee each day. He occasionally goes fishing. With her free time, Barbara makes household crafts and decorations. I like turning nothing into something, she says. So I also volunteer at the community s Treasure Shop [the resale store on campus], trying to help them raise some money. It s my release. But the couple is sure to make time for each other. Every day we still have lunch and dinner together, Ray says. No matter what we re doing, we don t miss that. And as throughout their marriage, the couple continues to share their Catholic faith. Every weekend, they attend Mass together at the Cedar Crest chapel. Ray helps prepare for Mass as an altar server; in this role, he prepares the altar, lights the candles, and assists the priest during Mass. Barbara is a member of the campus Catholic Executive Board and arranges the weekly Mass intentions and Mass cards. Faith and shared morals are the most important things, Barbara says. Some days it s been a long 51 years of marriage, but most days, it s amazing how quickly time has gone by and what a fantastic time it s been.