It’s quite an achievement to make 68 years! we talk to Beryl and Bruce Steber about what makes a long and happy marriage.
Can you tell us how you first met?
Beryl: We were both just kids when we first met during my family’s holidays at Narrabeen Beach.
Bruce buddied up with my older brother John, and many hours were spent playing on the beach with the local kids. I was the tormenting and annoying little sister. Then came the war, and it was some years before my family spent much time again holidaying in Narrabeen (fuel was rationed, so travel was minimised and access to the beach was restricted) – Bruce had always lived in Narrabeen.
After the war, now teenagers, for sport we played tennis and John introduced us to ballroom dancing, so we started going to dances. Bruce needed a partner, so the friendship blossomed. We were the first of the “kids on the beach” to marry.
Was it love at first sight?
Bruce: I was pretty certain Beryl was the “right one”. Looking back, I know she was. I’ve been very lucky to have her in my life. We’ve had a very happy and fulfilling life together. We are a team; we are buddies, as well as a married couple.
When you said “I do,” did you imagine you’d still be married 68 years later? Do you think you fully comprehended what it meant?
Beryl and Bruce: Sixty-eight years together was probably the last thing we were thinking about. Learning to trust each other, support each other and listening to each other, creating a home, becoming parents and raising a family, being partners in business and trying our best to make each other happy was more important than how many wedding anniversaries we would share.
Sixty-eight years married is an incredible achievement. What’s your secret to a happy marriage?
Beryl and Bruce: Bruce being a boat builder and me assisting; we worked together as a team, facing and overcoming challenges. Soon after we married, the business, Stebercraft – a small enterprise – was born. As time went by, the business grew, supplying boats from a leased factory in Brookvale, Sydney to marine centres all around Australia. Our family grew as well, and we relocated the business. At times we have had to split the roles, raising a family, still living in Sydney and re-establishing a business in Taree. We always made sure we communicated and were considerate of each other.
What are each other’s best qualities?
Beryl: Bruce likes everything to be tidy – he is very good at the chores that are considered “her” chores. I have never had to ask for a helping hand around the house; he has always just done it.
Bruce: Beryl has a fantastic nature; she always looks on the bright side. She has dealt with the hard times and copes with changes and challenges.
What are each other’s worst habits, and how do you overcome them?
Beryl: I can’t think of any really bad habits!
What do you think is the most challenging part of being married?
Beryl: Probably the most challenging time we have faced was when we undertook to relocate the business to Taree in 1973 to expand the factory and help to create employment for country kids, who would otherwise leave home to find employment. We were apart for periods during this time.
Bruce: Your newly-wed dreams may take a long time to become a reality and there will be a few ups and downs along the way, and learning from mistakes. Sometimes you have to see the world through the other’s eyes. You have to trust each other. Juggling between a growing business and a growing family has lots of challenges. We always made sure we spent time together, along the way.
What aspect of marriage were you most pleasantly surprised by?
Beryl and Bruce: Teamwork – we work together, played tennis together and now play golf together – good buddies.
Other than your wedding day, what has been the most joyous day or occasion you’ve experienced as a married couple?
Beryl and Bruce: Becoming a parent for the first time is something you always remember. All of our four children are special. We love being part of their lives, watching them grow and marry with families of their own. It is an enjoyable part of being married. We now have 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, who are all special to us. We love spending time with each of them and are proud of them all.
If you could have been given a fundamental piece of advice before you were married, what would it have been?
Beryl and Bruce: Kiss good morning, good night, hello and goodbye. A smile, a hug and a pat show you care.“Please and thank you” matter in a marriage.
Thanks, you two!
Interview: Bronwyn Davis.