Valentine sweethearts define what a healthy relationship resembles

Tom and Cindy Quick will celebrate 55 years of marriage this year.

Tom and Cindy Quick will celebrate 55 years of marriage this year.

A long- lasting marriage consists of accepting each other’s differences.

In 1965, 18-year-old Burke County native Tom Quick participated in a church camping trip to Maine that included canoeing on the Allagash River, attending the New York World’s Fair and visiting Washington D.C. However, he never imagined he would meet the love of his life. Cindy Quick was part of the youth group that hosted Tom’s group in Maine. It was an event her mother insisted that she attend.

“Our preacher said you need to be friendly with these folks,” Cindy recalled. “So, we mingled and talked and ended up corresponding after that.”

Conversing during a time before cell phones were invented, and long- distance calls were known to be expensive; Cindy and Tom wrote letters to each other for about two years. However, another church camping trip gave them the opportunity to see each other face-to-face again.

“He asked the guide on their trip if he could borrow his car for the afternoon,” Cindy recalled. “So, we spent the day together.”

Over the next couple of years, Tom visited Cindy in Maine. During her junior year in college, he asked her to marry him.

“Of course, I said ‘yes,’” Cindy said. Her parents, a bit shocked by the news, rushed to the college campus to meet Tom before he caught a bus back to Georgia.

Tom and Cindy married in June 1969, and a month later Tom left for Vietnam to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Tom’s military career moved the couple to Texas for two years and to Maine for four years. In 1976, they moved back to Georgia.

“At that time in the 1970s, the economy was bad and I knew I had a job down here with my father,” Tom said. When his dad retired from the construction industry, Tom became employed at Burke County Hospital where he worked in maintenance. Cindy taught school in Burke County for nearly 30 years.

Tom and Cindy say staying married for more than five decades has been easy. The couple never battled with a lack of conflict resolution or communication skills like many couples do today.

“When we had disagreements, we worked them out,” Tom remarked.

Also, they both agree that their union was meant to be and believe that God put them together. Their personalities complement each other. She is a worrier; he is calm as a cucumber. He doesn’t like to manage the finances and she is good at it. However, it is their differences that required adjustment, compromise and a bit of mutual training.

“It takes two people to get along with each other,” Tom said and pointed out that over time, the differences melted away as they blended to become more like one.

The circumstances of their life together haven’t always been ideal. Cindy, a new bride, worried while Tom was deployed overseas. In Texas, they were separated from family when their first child was born. Although they managed, they both agree that family support is a crucial aspect of a vibrant marriage.

Today, Tom and Cindy have two daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They are both retired now. The years they have spent together have afforded them time and opportunity to develop a friendship and learn to enjoy each other’s company. Currently, they spend their time keeping up the house and gardening. They travel when they get the chance. They have journeyed to France and embarked on at least 10 cruises that have taken them to Alaska, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and the Panama Canal.

“We have hit most of the 50 states,” Cindy remarked. “We love to cruise.”

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40-50 percent of first marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate for second marriages is even higher, with approximately 60-67 percent of second marriages ending in divorce. However, Tom and Cindy both agree there is an advantage to remaining together for a lifetime. It’s an investment that has paid off.

“Not having to get to know somebody else or train somebody else,” Cindy said laughing.

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