A blind date at a Manhattan Chinese restaurant on Valentine’s Day 1947 worked out rather well for Edith and Stanley Marlin. A cousin of his whose wife was a friend of Edith’s arranged the date.
They’ve been together ever since, celebrating 63 Valentine’s Days together and approaching their 61st wedding anniversary this Dec. 17.
At the beginning, Stanley Marlin, now 86, would write his future wife little poems to express his fondness for her.
“I used to write a silly little poem every time we went out on a date,” he said. There was probably a year’s worth of these little poems that he composed at the rate of about one a week, he said.
“I would not dare repeat them. Although there were so many of them, you can be sure they’re not worth telling,” he said. “But I had a good time writing them.”
They clicked right away, finding common ground in shared interests.
They were the children of Russian Jewish immigrants, she the youngest of five and he the middle of three.
From the start, he won her affection with his knack for making her laugh and easygoing manner, Edith Marlin, now 83, said.
“What first attracted me to him is his sense of humor,” she said. “I always found him very easy to talk to.”
When she graduated from Queens College, they attended a formal affair to celebrate the occasion. He wore a top hat and tuxedo and added a little magic to the moment by hiding a toy rabbit beneath his hat to surprise her.
Into the married life
Their wedding was a simple event before a justice of the peace at The Bronx County Courthouse in New York.
Actually, Stanley Marlin doesn’t even like to think of it as a wedding because that evokes too much ceremony. He thinks of the day they got married as their marriage day, because a marriage is more spiritual.
They paid $2 for the marriage license.
“We didn’t want a big wedding,” Stanley Marlin said. “We were constitutionally bashful about a big marriage and we didn’t have a lot of money.”
The two of them disagree on just how the marriage came about.
Asked if she recalls how he proposed to her, Edith Marlin fired back a question of her own:
“Do you mean the first time or the tenth time?”
Then she clarified that she doesn’t think it was actually 10 times but that he did have to be persistent.
He remembered it differently.
“I don’t even think I even asked her. We just did it,” he said, before reconsidering and acknowledging that he may have proposed marriage informally but without having to do it over and over.
“There was none of this bended knee routine,” he said. “Everything just flowed because we really cared for each other. We still do.”
It helped that they enjoyed traveling, literature, classical and chamber music, theater and dining out together.
He played the violin. She played the piano.
“We had many things in common that would keep us together for a long, long time,” Edith Marlin said.
But their marriage wasn’t all harmony all the time.
“A few times, we got angry with each other,” Stanley Marlin said before Edith jumped in with a clarification.
“It never lasted too long, though. He has a very funny sense of humor” that diffused the rare moments of tension, she said.
They have a daughter who is a gynecologist, a son who is an English teacher, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Even when their children were young, Edith and Stanley Marlin traveled by themselves in the summers throughout Europe – where Stanley had been in the Army for three years during World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, serving in a tank ordnance unit.
They sent their children to summer camp in those years, an activity they grew to enjoy.
“There were two values that we taught our children: God is good and camp is fun,” Stanley Marlin said.
Leaving the children behind weighed on their conscience at first.
“We felt a little bit guilty, but after a while they got to love it,” Edith Marlin said. “Especially since I had a sister (Frances Herman) who was not much older than me and she was their surrogate mother during the summers.”
Separate but not apart
For many years, when Edith and Stanley Marlin lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., they walked nine miles daily together.
They can’t do that any more – and they no longer live under the same roof – because for the past seven years, Edith Marlin has lived at the Sarah Neuman Center nursing home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., after suffering three strokes and dealing with the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, although she hasn’t been diagnosed with the disease.
She relies on a wheelchair to get around. But her husband and his five-hour daily visits are her lifeline.
“Fortunately, Stanley visits me every day,” Edith Marlin said. “He’s as regular as the postman. If he didn’t visit me every day, I would have gone bonkers a long time ago.”
He lives on his own in a nearby retirement community in Rye, N.Y., and each morning makes the 15-minute drive to see his wife until late afternoon.
As for advice to young couples who hope to make their love last into their sunset years, the Marlins said that a willingness to compromise and having common goals are important elements for making things work.
Drawing on each other’s strengths plays a role, too.
“Evidently, our personalities were complementary,” Stanley Marlin said.
Edith Marlin has been the more decisive of the two, sharp-minded and quick to understand a problem and figure out the best solution.
“I got support from her stronger personality, which is one of the reasons I’m very fond of her,” he said. “I think I was the more patient one. I was able to yield a lot more.”
To this day, they are still in love, Edith Marlin said.
And, yes, they still tell each other “I love you.”