Long-lasting Love: Colorado Couples 50+ Years of Marriage
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Asian Avenue magazine interviewed couples who have been together for more than 50 years. On top of marriage and children, these couples also faced adversities immigrating to the U.S. and rebuilding their lives and families in Colorado. In this feature, they reflect on their wedding day and also share advice as to what has worked for them to make a lasting marriage. Take heed!
Samuel & Jessica Kim
Korean | Married for 63 Years Samuel (88) and Jessica (84) Kim have been married for 63 years. They immigrated to the US from Korea and have been Colorado residents since 1976. Recently, Jessica was featured on PeopleTV for making 3,000 masks. Together, they own properties in Aurora that house Third Culture Bakery, Baba and Pops and Lady Justice Brewing Company.
How did you meet? A blind date. Describe your wedding day. Dec 20, 1957: We were dressed in both traditional Korean outfit and western style. Back then and in Korea, it was said that a smiling bride brings bad luck so we looked stoic in all their wedding photos. We sang Elvis’ Love Me Tender at our reception.
What was the happiest moment of your life together? It has to see our four children born, grow up and become responsible adults and in turn have their own children. We are proud to see each generation do better than the generation before.
What was the most difficult time in your life together? Immigrant life the first twenty years. Coming to the US with four young kids in mid-life and not speaking English. Marriage advice: Be considerate to your partner and do no harm.
Quding & Zhou Shaoru Wang
Chinese | Married for 65 Years
Shaoru Wang (88) and Quding Zhou (95) have been married for 65 years. After writing letters to each other for a while (they were long distance at the beginning of the re- lationship), they started having feelings for each other. The couple got married in 1956 with a simple wedding as hus- band Quding was busy traveling for work. The couple believe that having a good marriage means understanding and tolerating each other. This mentality has helped them get through some of the most challenging times in their marriage.
How did the couple meet? Shaoru’s aunt and grandpa worked together at the Iron and Steel Institute in Beijing in 1952 (which later became the Beijing University of Science and Technology). Her aunt introduced Quding to her. Since Shaoru lived in Taiyuan and Quding lived in Beijing, they initially wrote letters to keep in touch with each other. Quding was an assistant professor and every year during the summer and winter, he would take his students to the steel plant in Taiyuan for internships. There, he would meet Shaoru, and thus their relationship grew stronger.
Describe their wedding day. Shaoru and Quding got married on February 11, 1956. Because husband Quding was very busy at that time, the wedding was very simple and held in my his office at the university. Relatives and colleagues attended, sweets and tea were set up, and that was it. After the wedding, the couple went to a photo studio in town to take some wedding photos.
What was the happiest moment of their marriage? The happiest time was when Quding took students to lecture all over the country during winter and summer. In between lectures, he would travel with Shaoru in the area—eating and drinking.
What was the most challenging time during your life together? When Quding was busy doing research and lec- tures, he would spend ten months traveling for work during the year. Shaoru used to get upset at him because she had to take care of the children on her own. Even when their son was born, Quding was working out of town so Shaoru gave birth to her son alone in the hospital. However, Shaoru later realized that Quding spent so much time on scientific research because he wanted to contribute to the development of China. She got used to it after a long time and stopped complaining about Quding’s frequent absence ever since.
Marriage advice: Be patient when your spouse may lose his/her temper. Make an effort to understand and tolerate each other, never placing blame.
(Interview was with the couple in Mandarin and translated into English)
Ed & Natee Anolin
Filipino | Married for 50 Years
Ed and Natee Anolin (both 70) have been active in Colorado’s Asian community for more than 40 years. They have both won multiple awards through their involvement in organizations such as the Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership and Philippine American Society of Colorado. When they first moved to the state, they made many new friends in the Filipino community, many of which they are still good friends with today. Having been married for 50 years, they love to dance and tend to be the life of the party on the dance floor.
How did your parents meet? While in college in New York, they were introduced to each other through a mutual friend because they were the youngest ones there. Eight years after they got married, they left New York (where both their families lived) to move to Colorado due to my dad’s job.
Describe their wedding day. They were young. Mom was 19, and it was Dad’s 20th birthday. The reception was held at a small house in New York, so it was very crowded with 30-40 people in attendance, made up of immedi- ate family (Dad has seven siblings) and some close friends. Only my mom’s father and one sister were present (of her six siblings), as the rest of her family were still in the Philippines. The weather was pleasant. My dad’s recollection of the day: “I was nervous and in a fog.”
How many children do they have? 3 children — 2 sons and a daughter
What was the happiest moment of their life together? Happiest moments are always the times we have been able to share with family -- whether we are on a family vacation exploring new places or a quiet Christmas at home, sharing quality time means the most to them.
What was a most challenging time during their life together? We lost my brother two days before Christmas 2019, and then the pandemic hit in early 2020, so this past year has been very difficult for the whole family. Through the darkest days, my parents continue to find strength in each other and their relationship through God.
How do they celebrate their anniversary? Usually they celebrate the day with family and close family friends. For their 25th wed- ding anniversary, my parents had a full wedding ceremony and reception that was the bash of the century. They both turned 70 last year and also celebrated 50 years together. We had hoped to do a big event for their 50th anniversary, but sadly the pandemic hit and changed all our plans.
Interview with Tina Hong (daughter of Ed and Natee)
Dr. Kish&an K. Khanna
Indian | Married for 55 Years Dr. Kishan K. Khanna (82) and Aruna Prabha (74) were married in New Delhi, India in 1966. They first met in 1963 when Aruna’s father met Dr. Khanna during a business meeting in his office at Firozepur, Punjab, India. The Indian couple has lived in Colorado since 1999. Dr. Khanna has a Ph.D. in Law and was an attorney in civil, criminal and business law.
Describe your wedding day. On April 23, 1966, there were normal rituals performed by the bride and groom in our respective homes. In the evening, the Barat procession took place at the bride’s residence, where a big pandal was erected to welcome the procession, perform cultural and religious cere- monies, followed by a grand dinner.
At that time, many serious restrictions had been imposed by the government restricting the number of guests, and the number and types of dishes to be served. These were austerity measures strictly enforced by police, since India was under the shadow of shortages of essential commodities like food-grains, milk and milk products, etc. On April 24, a reception was held in a prestigious five star Imperial Hotel in the center of New Delhi city. The Minister of Railways, Government of India, and Local Delhi City Mayor graced the function.
How many children do you have? We have one daughter and one son. Our daughter Namita Khanna Nariani is the President of Mudra Dance Studio, and also an architect with a master’s degree from CU-Boulder. She is married to her college classmate Sanjiv Nariani, and together they own an architectural firm N@DESIGN P.C. They are both great dancers and founded Mudra Dance Studio in 1992. The studio is a 501c3 organization devoted to teaching various dance forms and per- forming arts of India. Namita and Sanjiv’s children, our granddaughters, are also both great dancers. Eishu is now a psychology graduate and registered nurse, and Ninaad is studying to become a teacher. Our son Karunesh Khanna is a practicing attorney of Colorado, working in a very senior position in the federal government in Washington.
What was the happiest moment of their life together? We spent a 3-month long honeymoon in the hills and valleys of Kash- mir, particularly in picturesque Shrinagar, Jammu, Pahalgam, and then another well known Hill Station in Uttarakhand, in India. We experienced a long, unequalled period of happy life which included an envied life of being duet singers and performers on stage as a hero and heroine – with Dr. Khanna being a writer, producer, director and actor of Hindi plays in the artistic nawab city of Lucknow in India.
What was a most challenging time during their life together? In 1970, we left for the USA when Dr. Khanna received admission for a Ph.D. program and teaching fellowship from Kent State University. In less than three years, Dr. Khanna earned both a Master and Ph.D. degree and later, the UNESCO award for his PhD. dissertation. These were difficult times for the family as Dr. Khanna pursued higher education in a new country, while Mrs. Khanna took care of the house, including their first child Namita.
Marriage advice: Conflict develops often from very small issues, which must be overlooked with better perseverance and feelings of give and take. Actually, no individual remains the same all his or her life. Divorce is not the solution for marital conflicts because it causes a break not only in the individuals’ life but it adversely affects the children and the general society. One important advice to young couples is to not rush to the courts, as lawyers generally add fuel to fire and must be avoided unless the situation is really very bad. Find someone who can help mediate. Both individuals better make some adjustments in approach to life to avoid the long term ill effects of divorce.
Risheng & Du Xiuying Bian
Chinese | Married for 64 Years Risheng Du (89) and his wife Xiuying Bian (83) have been married for 64 years. They grew up as neighbors, playing shuttlecock together around the neighborhood in Huaiyang City, Jiangsu Province, China. After knowing each other for many years, their family thought they would be a good match and arranged their marriage in 1957. Together, they have three beautiful children who now live all over the world. The couple moved to the U.S. in 2003 in order to help take care of their grandchildren.
How did the couple meet? Risheng and Xiuying grew up as neighbors in Huaiyang City, Jiangsu Province. At that time, several children in the neighborhood played shuttlecock for recreation, and Risheng and Xiuying were the two best players in the neighborhood, so they got to know each other and played together all the time. At that time there was no con- cept of love. Since both of them were the oldest in their family, they were not allowed to go to school but had to start working to support their family at a very young age. After they knew each other for many years, their families arranged their marriage.
Describe their wedding day. Risheng and Xiuying married in 1957 before the Spring Festival. In Chinese traditional culture, it is important to bring a daughter-in-law home for the Chinese New Year. At that time, the two families were not rich, so the wedding was very simple. It was held with the help of colleagues from work, and the couple prepared five pieces of clothing (cotton jacket, cotton pants, and so on) as a dowry.
What was the happiest moment in their marriage? Three of the happiest moments of their marriage are: when they had their first child; when their son went to college as they were very proud of his effort and achievement during a difficult time; and when they immigrated to the U.S. and finally received the green card.
What was a challenging time during their life together? They don’t think they have encountered many difficulties during their marriage because both of them were busy working and taking their children. They worked hard every day and came home and just wanted to sleep, so they didn’t have much energy to fight or argue. Xiuying believes in faith, so she doesn’t complain much and believes everything happens for a reason.
Marriage advice: Trust is important. Tolerate each other’s shortcomings/weaknesses, try to understand each other, be respectful, learn how to communicate with each other, and always think about the issue from the other person’s perspective. As a couple, try to solve the problem in private instead of sharing it with many outsiders. Sometimes you have to sacrifice for each other. An appropriate amount of sacrifice is necessary for marriage.
(Interview was with the couple in Mandarin and translated into English )