Bevan and Barbara Hovenhaus, of Golden Beach, are still together after marrying on April 30, 1960.
Bevan and Barbara Hovenhaus, of Golden Beach, are still together after marrying on April 30, 1960. Cade Mooney

Glue still good after 50 years

PHYSICAL attraction or a “spark” might bring two people together, but the way the couple deals with key issues appears to govern the longevity of a relationship.

Relationships Australia regional manager Sue Miller said people often cited changes in their partner among the reasons for the breakdown of a relationship.

“There’s a saying that you marry a different person from the one you divorce,” she said.

But Ms Miller said a successful relationship was built on understanding, more so than personal qualities or physical attraction.

She said couples needed to be able to discuss important issues and talk about what was making them unhappy if they wanted to resolve their problems.

Failure to do so could destroy a relationship.

“Being able to articulate that is a really important one, and if you can’t, that’s when you need to go to family or friends or counselling to help you,” Ms Miller said.

She said surveys had identified money, communication, differing expectations and values, and lack of trust as the main driving forces behind separations.

She said the success of a relationship depended not on physical attraction or personal qualities, but the way a couple dealt with these four issues, and couples should make a point of discussing them before entering into marriage or a long-term relationship.

“What we know is that physical attraction can pull two people together but it’s not sustainable for a long-term relationship,” she said.

“You may find a person attractive but it’s really superficial, so finding out their expectations and what they really believe in would sustain the relationship.

“It’s surprising the number of people who don’t know if the other person wants to have children, or assume they want their children brought up Catholic when they’re actually a Presbyterian or atheist, or wants to send them to a private school simply because they’ve said they liked one once.

“A lot of people assume ... but you really can’t assume people’s opinions without asking them.”

She recommended that couples take time out to have clear discussions on such serious topics.

“It doesn’t have to be in a formal sense, with pen and paper writing it down, but certainly sitting down and asking the questions in a formal sense will go a long way,” Ms Miller said.

About 57 years ago, a neatly presented schoolgirl called Barbara caught the eye of Bevan Hovenhaus at a bus stop.

She could tell he was a gentleman.

After a six-year courtship, they married. The Golden Beach couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year by renewing their vows.

Their relationship endured numerous separations while Bevan was working with the Postmaster General’s Department, which involved transfers to various parts of Queensland.

For about 10 years, Barbara kept the home running and looked after their four children very much on her own, while Bevan came home when he could on weekends or days off.

They resolved issues when he was home.

Or they would talk it out on the phone if something could not wait.

If it was more urgent, Bevan would drive home.

He would organise a day off to be part of a sports day or other important family event.

They came from similar family backgrounds, and held similar values, but said marriage was still something they had to work at.

Trust, patience, and “acceptance of the little things that each other does” had helped them survive, Barbara said.

For Bevan, it was a little harder to identify the glue that kept them together.

He said he was stuck fast from the start.

“I was just in love with Barbara and that was it,” he said.

“I made my decision, and that was that she was the lady for me.”

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