By Valerie Baldowski
In an age where the divorce rate is soaring, June and Bob Cooper have marked five decades of marriage. On Oct. 31, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Both are graduates of Rule High School in Knoxville, Tenn., where they first met. After his graduation in 1954, Bob entered the U.S. Air Force. After her graduation three years later, June continued her education at the University of Tennessee. The Coopers were married in 1958 at St. James Methodist Church in Knoxville.
In 1966, after his Air Force service was complete, Bob landed a job with the state of Georgia, and the couple moved to Atlanta with their two children. June pursued her higher education goals, and in 1995, earned an associates degree in business management from Clayton State College. They moved to McDonough in 1986.
In addition to their grown children, they also have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Bob says children also play an important role in a marriage. "When you get married, you have a house. When you have children, you have a home."
According to the web site us.attorneylegalservices.com, the number of U.S. divorces in 1998 was 947,384. By 2000, that annual number had risen to 957,200. The number of divorced people in the population more than quadrupled, from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996.
The Coopers, both of whom are members of Salem Baptist Church, say one of the secrets to a successful marriage is an active church life. Most members of their Sunday School class, Mrs. Cooper says, have been married for at least 50 years. "I think a lot of it has to do with those who have put God first in their marriage."
After so many years together, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have some insights into maintaining a harmonious relationship. Another important ingredient, says June, is the willingness for both husband and wife to work together. "Each person needs to give 100 percent --100 percent, not 50 percent."
As an example, Bob cooks the meals, while June does home-improvement projects. They both share the responsibilities for running their web-based business, juneschildrensclothing.com, which they started in 2007. In addition to being business partners, they have another shared experience which keeps them close.
Both are cancer survivors.
June was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus in 1970.
"That has challenged our faith," she says.
Then, six years ago, Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent 35 radiation treatments. He also underwent aneurysm surgery two years ago.
"When he was in the hospital for his aneurysm surgery, I totaled our car going to see him in the hospital. They put me in the same hospital he was in. We've survived a lot," says June.
The couple enjoys dancing and traveling together, and June admits the most fulfilling aspect of their marriage is the sense of togetherness they have found over the years. "It's good to have somebody to be there, to be with you," she says.
Bob advises young couples considering marriage to go through pre-marital counseling first. They should also get involved with a church and attend regularly. "We've always been active in church," adds Bob. "We put God first in our life, then we put family second. Our occupation always comes third ... Families can prosper by keeping a proper perspective."
He says one of the biggest perks of their marriage is the opportunity to get involved in projects together. "I don't have to touch anything in the house. She does the painting and the wallpapering. I do all the outside work."