True Love – Charles and Faith Clifton

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Focus discovers the key ingredients to long lasting love in the Manning Great Lakes with Charles and Faith Clifton, who have shared a long courtship.

Every February across the world, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones – all in the name of St. Valentine.

In today’s world, we have a growing statistic of divorce for many reasons; however, it is heartening to know that most marriages last forever. Long lasting marriages have characteristics that enable them to weather both the good and bad times. Meeting the right person may happen at an early age or later in life, with statistics showing that you know when you have met the right person; natures tells you this.

One couple from Harrington, Charles and Faith Clifton will celebrate their 65th year of marriage on the 26th May this year. Charles, 88 years, was born in Newcastle; wife Faith was born at Wherrol Flat 86 years ago. They still have a wonderful life and are fitter than most people half their age. Both have an active lifestyle, witty sense of humour, love of life and still are committed to serving their community, being active members of the Harrington SES and Probus.

Charles has always been into fitness, and in his early days was a handy boxer and fitness instructor. Today he plays tennis twice a week and still dabbles in his trade of upholstery several days a week. Wife Faith retired from swinging the tennis racquet three years ago after an unsuccessful shoulder operation, restricting her social activities to playing cards, tapestry and sewing. Like most couples, they met through a mutual friend, in Sydney. The romantic side of Charles was evident from the beginning, as he used to head to Coles in Liverpool Street every lunch hour to see Faith, who was working in the refreshment section serving milkshakes. Faith was receptive to Charles’ daily visits, receiving a shilling for the milkshake and giving her suitor two six pences as change. Charles served in the Australian Navy, leaving in 1943 to pursue a career in upholstery, but by chance he was offered a job in the American Navy after a conversation was overheard by American Navy personnel in a bank in Sydney.

“The money was good, so off I went, and I was a ‘quarter master’ on the American troop ships.”

While serving in the US Navy, Charles popped the question to Faith. After a twelve month courtship, they married, leading to a short honeymoon, as he had been posted to the Phillipines (leaving the following Monday). While he was away, Faith toiled away in an aircraft factory as part of the war effort. Charles has collected many mementos. One of his prized possessions is a personal letter from President Harry S Truman for his efforts in the American Navy during the Second World War.

After returning to Australia and joining the Australian workforce, Faith and Charles lived with Faith’s parents for twelve months, followed by another year stint at Charles’ parents, then they lived in a garage for five-years while building a house at Wiley Park (Sydney).

During this time, the Clifton’s home swelled to four with the birth their two children, the first being Sandra, followed by Terry.

Working as an upholsterer and machinist during the day to save and build their home, Charles earned extra dollars at home working his trade after hours, seven-days a week.

“We started off in Newcastle but moved to Sydney, as the money on offer was much better. Plus, we thought it would be better for the children to become established in the Sydney family environment. Once the children had grown up, we moved to Harrington permanently in 1983,” Faith said.

Their long association has not had too many ups and downs, with both believing consensus on all things is a key factor to success.

Both have similar ideas on how marriages and relationships survive and have several favourite sayings like: “Marriage and relationships do not fail – people do.”

Faith believes several factors are the key to most long term marriages. “Do not worry about problems – concentrate on finding a solution”,“Dwell on the good things – not the bad things” and “Forgive if someone does an indiscretion – just move on and get on with life”.

The changes in the world since they married 65 years-ago are huge, according to both. Both believe today that life is tougher for younger couples, as today’s world has conditioned them to expect many things that we can live without. Family values have altered.

“Years ago you controlled your destiny, but today you cannot compare what we did to what the young couples do today.”

Charles says that responsibility has diminished these days, values were better in the past and respect for one another seems to be disappearing. “Back in our days you had to pay cash for everything – we still do. The problem today is that people have access to many avenues of money, but remember you have to always pay it back.

“Do not get me wrong; that is the way society is today, and there are many couples living without chasing the big ticket items in life.” Faith says there is much pressure on society with the advent of technology as it has made the world a smaller place, but in many instances it has enhanced lifestyle – particularly with health issues.

Spending time together for a long period has not been a problem for both, as they believe if everyone spens a small amount of time each week in their own space, it leads to being more appreciative of your life. Life and times can be tough, with the expectations today very high: “Many things are too easy, like divorce. Unfortunately, people see this as the easy way out, without working to rectify the problem.”

In the past few years, psychologists have discovered that thriving couples accentuate the positive in life more than those who languish or split do. They not only cope well during hardship but also celebrate the happy moments and work to build more of these into their lives.

So after all these years of wedded bliss, do Charles and Faith have any tips for others?

Both have many ideas and suggestions to tell, without having to ponder their recipe for success. Faith believes all couples should continue to build intimacy throughout their marriage, create passion for life and for one another, continue to be committed to each other and celebrate it, and be friends with each other.

Another essential ingredient is to have fun and laugh together, use humour in healthy ways, comfort, encourage, continue to affirm one another and to respect one another’s need for privacy and space.

But the most important ingredient is “Respect, Honesty, Sharing and Have Fun.”

And finally Charles and Faith’s still active lifestyle is due to several beliefs; you only get old if you let yourself grow old and think young.”

And will they be celebrating Valentines Day? “Of course but remember everyday is Valentines Day.”

Peter Lyne

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