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50 years of wedded bliss

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On this day, 50 years ago, Dianne Simons joined hands with Raymond Russell Sr in holy matrimony with vows to stay together until death they do part.

A big family dinner was held in the lead-up to their 50th wedding anniversary. Early next year they will be treated to a vacation to their favourite two places in the world, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

In a time when a significant proportion of marriages end in divorce, their bond is stronger than ever.

Anyone who knows Mr Russell would know he has always been, and still is, a very happily married man.

They sat down to discuss what it takes to make a marriage work for life.

Together, they had four children, three girls and one boy, and faced losing a daughter and still accomplished their goals.

Rev Dr Maria Seaman, of Shekinah Worship Ministries was asked to describe her parents' marriage.

She recounted how they met when her father was 17 and her mother was 15.

“He was from before the bridge in Pembroke parish, and she was beyond the bridge, from Westside in Somerset,” said Rev Seaman.

“This meeting would set in motion the courtship which lasted a total of seven years with drive-in movies, football games with plenty of dancing at Odd Fellows Hall and other popular venues.”

Speaking of odd, she said: “It's kind of odd that this couple had met, fell in love and remained for these five decades because my mother's father considered my father too black.

“My father's grandmother, Annie Dowling had told him not to marry a light-skinned woman. So much for their advice!”

When the clock struck at 4pm on this day she said her parents were married at Somerset Methodist Church.

“Time, tests and tumultuous times have yielded a testimony of a strong couple who continue to demonstrate that love will conquer all.

“Their genuine love for God and family continues to sustain them,” she said.

Asked if she would still recommend that couples get married when they're young, Ms Russell said it's important to take time to get to know each other.

“Today they don't seem to do that; they race into it,” she said.

“I recommend they take their time, get to know their habits, their dispositions, what you like, what they don't like.

“Today I think they think marriage is just marriage and the home part doesn't mean anything, like the cleaning and the cooking and the staying-at-home wife. When a husband goes out they feel they should go out too.

“Unless you have the opportunity of a good lifestyle like we have had — and hopefully you're able to pass that on to your children — hopefully they'll see the results to sustain it.

“It hasn't happened even in our family because I have a daughter who is deceased, one that's been divorced, I have a son who is into a marriage and a pastor.

“I think it's what they glean from it. They have seen troubles, they have seen tests and they have seen happy times. And we, as a family, we held through it together.”

Not a stay-at-home mom at all, Ms Russell retired only three years ago.

“I worked and when I came home I didn't have no washer and dryer. Things are definitely easier running the household today but the mentality is not there.

“The younger generations today have been brought up by parents who have given them everything; today's parents give their children too much.

“You see children who haven't been born yet and they've got wardrobes, you see babies and they're done up in gold.

“When we were coming up you had somebody who went to church and saw that your child went to Sunday School and got some sort of spiritual upbringing. Without that we are a lost community, we really are.”

Looking to the future she said: “Hopefully young men will begin to see the errors of their ways and realise that they are the structure.”

“It's hurtful to see so many lost children, especially boys who seem to take over exactly from where their father is,” she said.

They married in a time when people got married and wanted to stay married forever despite the rough times, she said.

“Ray wasn't a womaniser, praise the Lord, but he liked the card part and he was a hotel guy.

“But I've never been ill treated, I've never been cursed by Ray, he's always been there for us and he was also instrumental in me being who I am.

“I think at some points I probably did make more than he did, because my wage was more reliable but Ray has never gone a week without giving me food money, never.”

Mr Russell said he knew after six months that she was the one for him because of the way she cared for her mother.

“I decided I was going to give her everything I could and that she was the woman of my control. I set standards for her that I kept,” said Mr Russell.

Together they are the parents of Rev Seaman, Raymond Russell Jr and Allison Russell and the late Sharon Russell.

They have 12 grandchildren: Joeshun, Tameisha, Alshea, K'Maria, Kiche, Shonte, Jenna-Maria, Tiffany, D'Hstiny, Raymond III, Maya, and Allan with four great grandchildren: N'Kosi, NyAsia, Zackiah, Jaylen and Saniyah.

Raymond Russell and wife Dianne celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary today (August 22nd, 2013).
Newlyweds: Raymond Russell and Dianne on their wedding day 50 years ago.

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Published August 22, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 22, 2013 at 1:23 am)

50 years of wedded bliss

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