John and Margaret Yarrall have been married for 74 years and are still happy together after all this time.
Love, patience and of course a cheeky bit of humour thrown in are just one part of the secret to a long-lasting marriage. Putting up with each other for a really long time is probably the rest of it, if you ask one half of the Yarrall husband and wife team.
John and Margaret Yarrall celebrated 74 years of marriage in January this year. Margaret is an Australian (she was born in Apollo Bay in Victoria) who met John in New Zealand when she was a teenager after moving there with family at the age of 14. They both lived in the back country in Whangamomona in the North Island, almost a world away from North Lakes where they live today with their daughter Jacqui.
With John approaching 99 and Margaret soon to be 94, they’re certainly not dancing around like they did when they first met. Like many of their generation, John and Margaret met at a dance, but it wasn’t quite in the usual manner.
“We met at a dance and being a country area, everybody knows everybody else and knows what everybody else is doing. They likely know more about what you are doing than you know yourself,” John says.
“You know, it's one of those silly things you do when you are younger,” Margaret adds with a cheeky smile. “I was sitting down talking to a girlfriend of mine at a dance when John walked in with another girl and I said to my friend ‘I bet I can take him off her’.”
It seems John didn’t need much persuading with a budding romance soon underway and the pair attending dances and spending time together when they could.
“I was sitting down talking to a girlfriend of mine at a dance when John walked in with another girl and I said to my friend ‘I bet I can take him off her’.” - Margaret
“Being where we lived was country, there weren’t many places we could go out together so we mostly used to go to dances and that kind of thing,” John says. “We were together two years before we got married.”
John also served in the New Zealand Royal Navy and he married Margaret in 1949. The couple had six children and now have 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. They originally came to Australia in 1980, travelling around the country many times, returning to New Zealand several times, before settling down in Tingoora in Queensland. Their three daughters followed them to Australia, one son lives in Perth, another is still in New Zealand and sadly one of their sons has already passed away.
So how does it feel to have been together and married for 74 years? If you ask John, it’s no different.
“You put up with each other for a long time,” he says. “I don’t know if there is a secret but just keep being polite and listen to each other.”
“We've had a lot of good times together,” Margaret says. “We used to travel Australia together….we’ve always done a lot of things together and we’ve been good friends too.”
In celebration of reaching big milestones John and Margaret have numerous cards from Queen Elizabeth congratulating them on previous wedding anniversaries, with the latest one coming from King Charles and Camilla. Being together for so long, John and Margaret have seen many changes throughout the world over the years (including the change in monarch) and do their best to keep up with everything.
“The world is totally different to what it was back in those days,” John says. “Things like transport and communications, look at phones now! I have a mobile phone and I try to use it but it’s good for playing games on.”
For their daughter Charmaine, seeing her parents celebrating another anniversary is something she regards as quite an achievement.
“It’s amazing to see and not everyone gets to celebrate this many years,” she says. “I’ll be lucky if I live as long as what they have, let alone be married that long. But I told mum and dad, 74 years is something to be proud of and it’s great to be able to share it with them.”