The secret to marriage — from a couple married 78 years

Lara Korte
Wichita Eagle

Wichita, Kan. — – After 78 years of marriage, four children, 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great-grandchildren, Paul and Ada Day are still dedicated to living active, independent lives.

They’re both 98, and every Thursday morning, Paul drives Ada to her hair appointment at Madison Avenue Salon in Derby, Kansas.

As members of the local senior center, they have remained enthusiastic travelers, often taking bus trips to places like Oklahoma City, Lawrence and the wind farms of western Kansas. Ada said they have always enjoyed traveling.

“Well, he’s the one,” Ada said, pointing to her husband. “I think he’s part gypsy.”

Ada, a homemaker, and Paul, a retired Boeing security guard, were born and raised in Kansas. Over the years they have traveled to all 50 states, as well as Canada, but have always come home to the Midwest.

“And it always felt good to come back, too,” Ada said.

Before moving to Derby in 2005, the Days lived in the same house in Wichita for 52 years. For the past four years, they have been in assisted living.

The two met in 1936 when Paul traveled to Ada’s hometown of Climax, Kansas, in Greenwood County, with his high school basketball team. Ada said she remembers the day vividly.

“He came up to our high school on the basketball team, and when I saw him I went to a friend of ours and I asked him who that guy was,” she said. “And he told me, and I said, ‘Well, he’s the best looking man on the basketball team.’ ”

Paul laughed.

“She hadn’t seen the rest of the guys on the team.”

“That’s where I met Paul,” Ada said. “And from the first time I saw him — I don’t know, there was something about him — I knew he was the one for me.”

Two years after their initial meeting, the couple reunited and married after only four months of dating when Paul was 19 and Ada was 20.

They said if there’s one secret to a long marriage, it’s communication.

“You’ve got to sit down and talk things out,” Paul said.

“No secrets,” Ada said. “You talk to each other, and no different bank accounts. It’s everything is ours, not his and hers, but ours.”

Rita Dunlap, the stylist who has been taking care of Ada for eight years, said the Days are a special couple.

“You never see anyone who is married for 78 years,” Dunlap said.

In addition to traveling, the couple also shares a love of sports and the outdoors, and still go to bowling every week at the senior center. Paul said their common interests have helped keep them together all these years.

“We never had much disputes between one another, nothing that we couldn’t salvage,” he said. “There’s been a few times I probably should have been kicked out, but she didn’t kick me out.

“It wasn’t always as perfect as it could have been.”

However, as far as Ada is concerned, their marriage is perfect.

“I don’t know if I could do it again if I would change a thing,” she said.