Belfast Telegraph

Our advice to young lovers - by the Belfast couple who've been married for 70 years

By Chris McCullough

A couple who have celebrated 70 blissful years of marriage said it is the simple things in life that have kept their relationship going strong over the decades.

Albert and Elaine Magill, from Ulsterville Gardens in south Belfast, have been together since they were teenagers and marked the special milestone on Sunday.

Plenty of banter on a daily basis has kept romance alive for fun-loving Albert (90) and Elaine (89), who remain deeply devoted to each other.

The couple, who have four sons together, have not moved far from where they were both born - Eileen comes from Sandy Row and Albert from the Lisburn Road.

With today being Valentine's Day, Elaine, or Eileen as she is more fondly known to Albert, said she was expecting a huge bunch of roses and a box of chocolates, but admitted Albert's pockets were probably dry after the dinner he bought her on Sunday.

"It might be Valentine's Day but if history is anything to go by Albert will forget again. I may have to prompt him a few times to see if he remembers," she said.

"We were married 70 years on Sunday and enjoyed a nice family meal in The Stables restaurant in Groomsport with some of our sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren present.

"Albert had to dig deep to buy me my dinner that day so he will probably say he has no money left for Valentine's Day."

The loving couple met on a dance floor in Belfast 74 years ago, but it wasn't love at first sight, according to Eileen.

She said: "It was nothing of the sort. He had to work on me a bit before I agreed to go out with him. He had no money then either and all we did was go for walks. But we really fell in love and were married four years after we met and here we are still married today."

Albert and Eileen had what they called 'a low frills wedding' with no glamour or glitz. Eileen didn't even have a wedding dress and got married in her suit, with Albert in his old one.

There was a bit of drama on their wedding day though when Eileen fell out with her brother who told her not to come back to the house if she got married.

Albert said: "We went ahead anyway. I just told Eileen 'you are coming with me and that's that'. We got married in a small Presbyterian Church on Elmwood Avenue in Belfast with only two witnesses present.

"After the wedding we went to the pictures to watch The Green Years and later on spent five days in Dublin for our honeymoon.

"I delivered telegrams for the Post Office in my younger days for 60p a week and later went on to become a civil servant.

"Eileen worked as a stitcher for a clothing company and even modelled the clothes for them.

"She was quite attractive in her young days and still is!"

Eileen cites true love as the main reason why the couple have been married for so long, but Albert has another theory.

"The real secret to enjoying a long and loving marriage is simply to keep telling the wife that she is always right," he said.

"Even though when I know she is wrong I simply say 'I think you are right dear' and that has kept the peace all this time."

Albert reckons he was lucky finding Eileen as during the 1940s the American soldiers "were taking all the women in Belfast" and not many were available.

He said: "No one messed with me and Eileen. We managed to keep together even during the war period when I worked as a fire watcher on the roof tops of Belfast.

"But I think what really made me very attractive to Eileen was my Post Office uniform and the shiny buttons plus my wee red van.

"We had many a good time in that wee van."

Speaking about the youth of today, Elaine said: "They don't appreciate what real love is.

"All they do today is moan and complain.

"My advice to them is to find the one true loving partner and stick with them. That's what we did and look at us 70 years later," she added.

As the happy couple move past their 70-year milestone, reminiscing about their years together proved a very enjoyable experience for the lively couple.

Albert, who still drives his small car to the shop and back, said at the end of the day the couple both appreciate each other and that cannot be taken away.

"We usually go to bed around 10pm and wake up at 8am," he said.

"Even after all these years we still hold hands together in bed."

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