Morrie and Betty Markoff from Los Angeles have been married for 78 years but say there is no great secret to a successful marriage other than “tolerance and respect”.
Betty, 100, reportedly gave this advice: “Just don’t let every complaint turn to anger. Tolerance and respect. And you’ve got to like them. Morrie would never use the word love; I do, but the actions are the same on either part.”
When asked why he never told his wife he loved her, Morrie, 103, explained: “To me, love is possessive; it’s controlling and demanding.
“Love is an esoteric word, but one that people also use to mean all sorts of off-hand things. ‘I love playing tennis’, and such; The word that I would rather use instead is ‘caring’. You care about people. ‘Care’, to me, has a much deeper meaning.
“I hug Betty constantly, I kiss her constantly, I care very much about her.”
The couple, who met at a wedding in New York in 1938, are now due to appear in Ageing Gracefully, a book documenting the stories of centenarians, by German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen.
They are the only couple to feature in the book, and say they are the “oddities” among their community, as “we’ve outlived everybody”.
“It’s rare, I recognise that,” Morrie said, “We are very lucky. The best I can wish you is our luck.”
Morrie puts his longevity down to “divine intervention” after he survived a heart attack the day before his 99th birthday.
He was rushed to hospital when Betty called 911, but- flat-lined after surgeons inserted a pacemaker in his chest during an operation.
Betty, on the other hand, puts it down to a “seventh grade nutrition class” where she learnt how to prepare a meal with protein and vegetables, and the daily walk around the local lake that the couple took before breakfast for several decades. Despite technically dying for several seconds, the family returned to find Morrie awake and joking a short while later.
The couple say one of the weirdest things about growing old is seeing your children become senior citizens as well. Their daughter lives in the same block as them so if one of them were to die, the other would not be alone.
“After 78 years, I can say I didn’t make a mistake. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re still here,” Morrie said with his hand on his wife’s knee.