SUPPORTING each other is key in marriage, longtime couples tell SARAH HUDSON
Forget the chocolates and flowers this Valentine's Day.
The secret to a happy and lasting relationship is helping each other, laughter and never letting an argument fester.
That's according to these couples, who have long marriages to prove it.
Gwen and Fred Keat, Wodonga, Married: 70 years
Gwen Keat can't quite recall where she met Fred, her husband of 70 years.
Nor can she remember what attracted her to him, but there's one thing she knows for sure.
"I'd say the secret to marriage is to help one another in everything," says the 91-year-old.
"You've got to be able to rely on each other, in sickness or whatever. And if you can keep that up, and love one another, you'll be right."
Gwen grew up in Murrami, near Leeton in NSW, and first met Fred, who is two years her junior, at a dance somewhere in Victoria's North East.
"He used to play piano in an orchestra and so I met him at one of the dances - maybe Mt Beauty or Dederang. He was very nice looking in his younger years."
The couple married on November 1, 1941 - he was 19, she was 21 - and despite the war, Gwen wore a new frock, pale blue and short.
Until they moved to Wodonga 10 years ago, the couple lived on Fred's family 75ha farm, a dairy in the Kiewa Valley.
Gwen admits she relished the life.
"I loved the work and the early mornings. There was always a lot to do, including cutting the hay."
With three children (one who died from cancer), four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Fred and Gwen say the farm is now being run by one of their grandsons.
Gwen says the secret to marriage - as well as good farming - is to always take a holiday.
"Every year we'd turn the cows out and go away for a couple of weeks. We've been nearly all over Australia. It was good to get away and relax."
In retirement, both keep in good health, thanks to their main interest of gardening, while Gwen also sews and knits for charity.
The couple say they have rarely argued, with the "occasional niggle" - "but we get over it quickly", while Fred's humour has proved a great source of laughter.
"We have great laughs, but I wouldn't dare say some of his jokes for print," Gwen says.
Lorraine and Barry Bottams, Mildura, Married: 45 years
SUCH was the happiness that followed the nuptials of Lorraine and Barry Bottams, in Red Cliffs in August 1966, that their wedding photo won a competition in The Weekly Times.
"It won the monthly wedding photo competition and we won something like $150," Lorraine recalls.
The couple first spotted each other at the Red Cliffs milk bar - she was 17, he 19 - and, through mutual friends, started dating, marrying two years later.
Nearly five decades on - including three sons and three grandsons - Lorraine and Barry, who produce dried fruit, say the secret to a strong relationship is communication.
"If there's a problem we talk it out. There are no secrets between us," Lorraine says. "We have our days (arguing) but ... it doesn't fester."
Above all, they say, couples should continually work at their relationship and "pull together".
Barry has been a long-time breeder of racing trotters, an interest he shares with his wife.