The secret to a 65-year marriage

FEELING BLESSED: Ross and Mary Grant, both 89, have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
FEELING BLESSED: Ross and Mary Grant, both 89, have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

Octogenarians Ross and Mary Grant had a dramatic start to their 65-year marriage.


The couple, both 89, had planned a double wedding at the Commonwealth Convenant Church in Wellington on June 8, 1949 but a technical glitch delayed the nuptials.

Drama unfolded after it emerged the other bride was under 21 and didn't bring her permission to get married.

"The minister was stymied because he couldn't marry them without permission from her parents," Mr Grant said. "They contacted the postmaster and got permission to open all the mail bags to find the letter containing the permission. In those days it was the law that you had to be married by 8pm.

"I was sitting in the minister's office . . . I had plenty of time to think about turning back."

The Grants were married in the nick of time before the deadline and they haven't looked back.


There were few answers to the secret behind their 65-year marriage, but his wife's cooking helped the harmonious marriage, Mr Grant said.

"She is a marvellous wife. We are still very happy. It takes a bit of believing that we are married 65 years. Sometimes I think have I dreamed it.

"We are very family orientated. We share the same goals and the same values. I must give her credit she has been very patient.

"We have had a very fortunate life. She has been an excellent cook, a great mother to our children and very hospitable to our friends."

Both are former pentecostal missionaries who met at church in 1948. He had been studying at bible school and she had been helping at a home for mothers.

Mr Grant said his future wife-to-be's reputation proceeded her.

"I heard about her before I met her," he said with a laugh. "She was working as an aid to maternity nurses. When I set eyes on her she more than met my expectations. I told her I had applied to go to the Belgian Congo as a missionary and was looking for a mate to go with and she said she was interested."

The couple didn't make it on their jungle adventure and gave their ship ticket away to two young girls.

Instead they worked as missionaries in New Zealand and lived a nomadic existence, and often had to bed down in their Morris Eight car.

Following the birth of their eldest daughter Elizabeth in 1953 they decided travel wasn't pragmatic and they settled in Lower Hutt.

Mr Grant worked as chief technician in the School of Architecture at Victoria University and his wife raised a family of five and worked in the community.

They moved to their Battys Rd home in Blenheim in 2000 - the same home in which Mrs Grant's mother and grandmother were raised.

The Marlborough Express