Reginah Sanyu – 1851 Staff
Advice is everywhere, from blogs, horoscopes, and other social media platforms. But when it comes to love and relationships, it is best to get advice from people who have experienced it.
Ruth and William Silen, married for 66 years, met in a trigonometry class while they were in high school. However, their love story did not begin until Ruth was bored with the boys at a party. With encouragement from her aunt, Ruth approached William and this time it was not about trigonometry. “At the moment, it was very unheard of for a girl to ask a boy, but I did,” said Ruth.
Falling in love is such an easy thing to do. “Everyone knows what constitutes falling in love. We are looking for people who shared similar interests and goals,” said William. “My goal was to make certain that we were properly educated.”
The couple was married during Ruth’s last college semester with William in medical school. The Silens left the West coast because of William’s work; he later served as chair at Harvard Medical School for 10 years. “We always thought Nevada was east,” Ruth said. “And William’s work took us to many parts of the world.”
When asked what made their relationship last this long, the couple said having the same goals and standards are part of the list. “You should not get in a relationship with someone with the hope of changing them, you have to like them for who they are,” said Ruth. “There is no magical secret. It’s really hard work,” William said.
Freddy Frankel met Betty through a mutual friend when he came back to South Africa after serving in Italy during the Second World War. “I fell [in love] just like that, but it took her some time,” Freddy said.
The couple was married on September 11, 1947, and have been married for 66 years. “Before we dated and got married, I had to ask Betty’s mother for permission to take her to the movies,” said Freddy. The Frankels moved to America with their three children in 1962.
“What you need to have is patience, tolerance, and understanding,” said Betty. “Also love is very important…When you are in a relationship, you have to become familiar with their way of life. Try to be understanding of the way they see the world if it is different from you.”
The couple agrees having a mutual understanding and hard work kept their relationship strong for all these years. “Understand reasons why he or she does certain things,” Betty said. “We were very fond of each other,” Freddy said with a laugh. “Come on, we loved each other….and that hasn’t changed much,” Betty said.
Just like in any relationship, it was not always rainbows and butterflies for the Frankels. “Sometimes we disagree and we just talk about it,” Freddy said. “We don’t shout at each other or blame each other,” Betty said. The couple believes having mutual respect is also important.
“We were prepared to change our thinking and become more tolerant of other one’s views,” Betty said. “Your actions need to be of a kind that you are not afraid or ashamed to open up,” said Freddy. “You cannot have open communication if you have a secret you don’t want to share.”