But to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary, Pat and Neville Briggs renewed their vows on Wednesday in front of family and friends at a special ceremony at Beaumont Villa within L’Hermitage Gardens Retirement Village in St Peter.
Pat (71), a former healthcare assistant, and Neville (94), who used to work as a postmaster, met at a German bunker party in 1973. ‘It was love at first sight,’ she said.
The pair lived together for five years before getting married on 22 August 1978. When asked how her husband proposed, Mrs Briggs said: ‘He didn’t propose. I just got his arm round his back and said, “You’re going to marry me, aren’t you, darling?” ’
Although now they’re having a renewal of vows ceremony hosted by Brian Vibert, the original event was a lot more low-key.
‘We didn’t tell anybody. It was all secret, and we went to Bonne Nuit Chalet after.’
Forty years later the couple have four daughters, one son, four granddaughters, three grandsons, and two great-grandsons.
When asked what the key was to a lasting marriage, Mrs Briggs said: ‘You’ve got to give and take, and be patient with each other, and love each other. Never go to bed on an argument, always a hug and kiss.’
And she added that a couple should not give up when things get tough.
‘We’ve gone through a lot of problems. We were nearly bankrupted once – it was awful. We think that was the start of Neville’s Alzheimer’s. There’s been lots of ups and downs and problems, but no more than anybody else. You just deal with it, don’t you? I’m so lucky to have Neville as my husband.’
The celebration was taking place at Beaumont Villa, a dementia care home.
Mrs Briggs said she would not have it anywhere else. ‘We’re celebrating with family and friends, and all the nice residents here,’ she said.
Mr Briggs has been at the care home for ten months now and Mrs Briggs visits her husband every day.
And the pair said they wanted everyone to know: ‘Just because you’re in a dementia home doesn’t mean life stops there.’
When asked to sum up the last 40 years, Mrs Briggs said: ‘We just love each other to bits.’