Love holds key to 60 year marriage

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Today is a special day for Stan and Elaine Banks – their 60th wedding anniversary.

The pair are celebrating the milestone by going out to lunch before having a get-together with family and friends on Saturday to celebrate their marriage.

In a house Mr Banks built, decorated with carvings he crafted and paintings Mrs Banks created, the pair reminisced about their lives together.

“It’s been perfect,” Mr Banks said.

“It’s been very interesting . . . you have your ups and downs occasionally but everything sort of pans out in the end.”

Mr Banks came to New Zealand from England in 1949 to work as a carpenter.

The couple met at a fancy dress ball where Mr Banks, with his “biker” look, initially left Mrs Banks unimpressed.

But it was meant to be, and about two years later the couple were engaged.

The couple wed in Kurow on January 16, 1954 – which is a Banks’ family tradition of sorts, with Mrs Banks’ mother and daughter getting married on January 16 as well.

They lived on a farm briefly, a job Mr Banks said he “wasn’t cut out for” and eventually found their way to Oamaru.

Here they have built a life together, spending time camping, sailing, hang-gliding, sky-diving and travelling the globe together.

So what is the secret to a successful marriage?

“Let the wife be the boss, I just do everything I’m told, and I love her too,” Mr Banks said.

Mrs Banks, sharing a laugh about her boss status, said a sense of humour was vital.

But the couple had been through more serious times as well.

“I used to spend a lot of time climbing, I wasn’t very good at it, I spent a lot of time in the hospital,” Mr Banks said.

His wife was always there to “pick up the bits” and support him, he said.

Now Mrs Banks spends her time painting, gardening, reading, writing and playing golf.

Mr Banks said he loves to fish and tinker around in his workshop building things for his family – the pair have four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The happy couple agreed they loved the life they had built in Oamaru, and loved seeing their family grow and flourish in the area, through thick and thin.

“You can get through anything if you love each other,” Mr Banks said.

By DAVID DE LOREAN