Love & Sex
A couple who have just celebrated 72 years of marriage say the secret to wedded bliss is never going to bed angry at each other.
Leonard and Evelyn Benfell celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on Friday, a week after Mr Benfell's 90th birthday.
The couple retired to Blenheim from Christchurch 20 years ago and spent their anniversary together at the Springlands Retirement Village.
A Catholic priest in Christchurch once asked Mr Benfell if he was the man with 10 children and how he did it.
"I used to work on the railway and the train used to go past the house at 5.30am - too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep, I told him."
The pair enjoyed painting and cooking together, but had many separate hobbies including Mr Benfell's passion for hunting and fishing.
"I like putting things in the oven," he said with a smile.
He was in the home defence section of the army when he met his future wife through mutual friends and took her on a date to see a movie about nurse Edith Cavell in 1940.
"He arranged to see me through my sister," Mrs Benfell said.
"He was a bit smashing but I thought I'm not going to let her know that."
The pair dated for three months before getting married in Christchurch. He was 18 and she was 17.
Mr Benfell worked for the railway while she took care of their eight daughters and two sons - the youngest is 55 and the oldest is 70 - who were followed by 25 grandchildren.
Mrs Benfell lost one child after giving birth prematurely, before facing the miscarriage of her second. After that she had a further 10 babies.
She never thought the couple would live as long as they had and if anyone told her in 1940 that she would still be married 72 years later she would have told them they were dreaming.
"It's been a good life; we've had our shares of ups and downs but we always seem to battle through," Mrs Benfell said.
One piece of advice for young couples was to never go to bed angry at each other.
"If you have a fight, make it up before you go to sleep."
- The Marlborough Express
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