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Back 48 years after Bermuda honeymoon — and still loving the Island

Back for a second honeymoon after 48 years of marriage, Suzanne and Robert Shanley are convinced Bermuda is one of the best islands in the world.

But from a marketing point of view they both agreed that more needs to be done to promote the Island as a tourist destination.

The couple were married on September 11, 1965 in Long Island, New York and decided to return on a cruise from New York to celebrate their union all over again.

As newlyweds they set out on what would be the bride's very first plane ride at the age of 21 for a honeymoon in Bermuda at Harmony Club.

The couple left on board the Explorer of the Seas yesterday to head back to their home near Houston, Texas.

Although it was bittersweet for them to see the current state of Harmony Club, they were both stunned to see so many similarities on their return 48 years later.

“Bermuda is not advertised, I mean there's nothing,” said Ms Shanley. “I see advertisements on television about Belize and Mexico all the time but nothing about Bermuda.

“This is honestly the nicest, friendliest island, I would say in the world, that we've been to and we've been around the world three times.”

And they're already contemplating plans to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary here with their family in two years.

“We're thinking of taking all our children and grandchildren here. And the children have never been here,” she said.

Mr Shanley said the idea to return for a second honeymoon came up at his 50th college reunion this year.

“We were back in New York and one of our classmates said since we're back east, let's extend the reunion and take a cruise to Bermuda,” he said.

“We rented a sailboat on our honeymoon 48 years ago and I would love to get back out on the water again — I'm a sailor,” he said.

His wife said she was “stunned at how nice it is” on her return to Bermuda. They spent their first day back on a taxi tour with a driver by the name of Collin.

He left an unforgettable impression on the couple when they just happened to flag his taxi down again during their visit.

Ms Shanley said: “He said he had such a great time with us on the tour, it was his pleasure to take us where we had to go without a fare. And he refused to take a penny from us. I thought that would probably stay with me for the rest of my life.

“The people here are the nicest people on any island we've ever been to, I would say hands down. And the colour of the water is amazing.”

Mr Shanley runs a headhunting firm for chemical and petroleum engineers.

Proud parents of two sons, they have four grandsons and lost their only daughter to cancer 31 years ago when she was only 16.

They both agreed that the loss of a child is one of the heaviest tests for any marriage and heart-wrenching for any parent.

It was also the source of the biggest problems in their marriage when their daughter took ill and suffered for four years.

“I would say 95 percent of our problems started with that,” Ms Shanley said. “And then our sons had to deal with that because they lost their sibling. It was a very difficult time.”

Asked what it takes to make a marriage last for 48 years, she replied: “It's so easy for people to walk away and get divorced today; that's not the way. I also think keeping God in your life is very important because God keeps you closer and we have children.

“I think you have so many problems today because there are no more family units. People divorce leaving children who are being raised just by their mothers or by their fathers.

“We also hold ourselves up as examples to our children. We would like them to live a life the way we've lived our lives.”

Her husband said patience is the key.

“You have to be patient because there's always going to be something — issues that you don't agree on. Our biggest problems have been fighting over the children and the discipline,” he said.

Either way they're both looking to enjoy many more years of marriage.

Admirers of the Island: Bob and Suzanne Shanley returned to Bermuda for their 48th wedding anniversary. They are pictured at the Bermuda Society of Arts with a memento from their visit. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published October 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 05, 2013 at 12:08 am)

Back 48 years after Bermuda honeymoon — and still loving the Island

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