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Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness

Couple celebrates 68th wedding anniversary

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February 17th, 2016
Rita and Herb Shedlin
Rita and Herb Shedlin

Here’s a Valentine’s Day story to warm your heart. Rita and Herb Shedlin just celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary last month. After nearly seven decades of married life, they’re still as happy and active as ever. And while their favorite activities have altered with age, they continue to find new ways to enjoy life and each other. 

Married January 11, 1948, at his family’s home in the Bronx, Rita and Herb met one summer at a party in Rockaway, Queens.

“I had just graduated from high school and was staying in Rockaway, Queens, with my family for the summer. My friends invited me to a party in the Bronx. This was in a time when I still had to ask my mother permission even at 19 years old,” Rita recalls.

“I walked in and saw my future husband-to-be. At the time he was dating one of my friends,” she continues. 

“Do you have dibs on him?” she asked her friend. “No. Go ahead,” her friend replied. 

They met, and the rest is history. “We never dated anyone else again,” Rita says.

At the time, she was 19; he was 24. They dated two years before getting married and waited four years before having a baby. “We’ve had a good life,” Rita says.

The secret to marital bliss

When asked how they’ve managed to stick together for so long, especially in a day and age when more than 50% of marriages fail, Rita replies with a laugh, “We have no knives or scissors in the house.”

“It’s a joke,” she clarifies, unnecessarily. 

Then, on a serious note, she says, “We really don’t stay angry with each other. We get over it. We may get annoyed with one another, but everybody does that. We always sit down and talk it over. And we have a wonderful family that supports us.” 

Plus, Herb chimes in, “She’s a good cook.”

But what really stands out in their marriage is their love of staying active and doing things together. They traveled extensively, all over the U.S., Europe, Russia, Israel, Japan, and China. And they traveled with their two daughters, taking them wherever they went. They both agree that those are some of the happiest memories from their many years together.

Even as empty nesters, Rita and Herb continued their love of travel, taking more than 45 Elderhostel trips. 

“The first was in Vermont. They were great experiences. We met wonderful people from all over with all different backgrounds,” Rita says.

When they weren’t traveling, they were always active—playing tennis; enjoying dinner out with friends, the ballet, or the theater; and visiting museums. 

“We’ve enjoyed doing things together. We did different little things like we’d take a day and go to two [theater] shows in one day. I’d skip cleaning the house or making the bed, we’d go to a show, go out to lunch, and then see a matinee [laughs]. We did a lot together,” says Rita.

But as in any marriage, it wasn’t all fun and games. They remember many instances when they had to support each other through the hard times, too.

One memory that stands out in Rita’s mind was when her mother passed away. “We were on a [sail] boat with a friend and got stuck in a storm overnight. So we waited it out and went back in the morning. The Coast Guard found me and told me my mother had died. Herb was wonderful during the whole thing. He was there for me. We stick together. We support each other,” she says.

Enjoying life with age

Four years ago, Rita and Herb made a joint decision to move to Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J.

“We made the decision for our children,” Rita says. “We loved our apartment in Queens, but our children were coming out constantly to help us. Now we have help if we need it. Herb was sick last summer, and we had all the support we needed.”

While they don’t play much tennis any more, they continue to find new ways to stay active and involved thanks to the lifestyle and amenities available at Cedar Crest. 

They dress up for Halloween, attend shows in the performing arts center, dance, sing, and act. The run a program for their neighbors called Remember When, “where we go back in time and share our history,” Rita says.

Summing up a lifetime of love and laughter, Herb says, “We participate.”

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