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60 years married: Bob and Shirley’s secrets to successful relationships

Bob and Shirley 

78-year-old Shirley and 81-year-old Bob Jeffery have lived many different lives over the years. 

They first met when they were teenagers, with Bob working up the road from Shirley as a mechanic. He was so shy that his mates had to dare him to ask her out – and it’s lucky that they did, because the two have been together ever since.

Since that fateful day, the two of them have moved 44 times, lived in three different states and raised a family of three boys.

The two of them are now settled in Hervey Bay, enjoying life at home with some help from Feros Care. They recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and have featured in their local paper and on Sunrise. 

We’ve asked Shirley and Bob to share their insights on what it means to be in a committed relationship for over half a century. Whether it’s sustaining a romantic relationship, maintaining a long-term friendship or keeping happy as a family unit, here are their top tips.

A little bit of laughter goes a long way

Fraser Coast Scroll Saw Club Inc.
The scroll saw club has a number of members in the area, with each member having their own scroll saw; they sell their wares at local markets and donate the money to Guide Dogs Queensland and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Bob has been president
of the club for seven years, with Shirley as treasurer.

“It keeps us busy, we put all the work in to see that money going to charity and that’s what makes it worthwhile,” they say.

Acknowledge that no one’s perfect

Shirley and Bob say it’s important to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes – it’s only human.

“I get so annoyed when couples say, oh we’ve never had a disagreement,” Shirley says. “If we all agreed with everything, it’d be a boring old world. If we’re honest – you can admit that every couple disagrees sometimes,
you can’t avoid it.”

One of their most challenging times was when they moved to Darwin. Due to Cyclone Tracy, they had to live on a ship that was tied up at the wharf.

“We lived on that for almost five months with three sons – a 13 year old, an 11 year old and a nine year old,” Shirley says. “It was not a good life. I had no privacy, I’d have to tie a sheet up between our bunks to get changed.
You’d find the boys playing two-up with their lunch money. It was a real eye opener.”

But every part of the challenge meant working at the marriage. “We never walked away just because it would have been the easier thing to do. We managed on our own and whether we did the right thing or wrong thing, we just fumbled our way through.”

Shirley encourages reaching out to your local community in times of struggles, and going beyond just the commitment. “People do live in their cocoon these days, especially with COVID, but we were brought up to look out for your friends and neighbours,”

And of course – they’re grateful to Feros Care for the support we offer in keeping them comfortable in their home, including with meal prep, domestic services and the Let’s Get Technical program.

“It’s all so easy with Feros, they’re so communicative,” Shirley sums up.

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