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February 8, 2024

Longevity, Partnership and Commitment: Love and Marriage Journeys from Three Couples at The Covington

For three couples at The Covington, a premier nonprofit retirement community in Aliso Viejo, perspectives on successful marriage come from first-hand experience.

We thought February a good time to speak to them about love and fulfillment in South County, and we were not disappointed with the result. Their journeys through longevity, partnership and commitment have been as distinct and inspiring as the couples themselves.

Vi And Peter Janssen

Vi and Peter Janssen met in a music class. “We were college sweethearts,” Vi says. They married in 1965. They took a pre-marriage counselling program – yes, they had those in those days too! The Janssens highly recommend it, as it gave them a safe space to share some aspects of themselves and their expectations before they were married.

With more than 58 years of experience, one of the secrets to their long, happy marriage is expectation. “We knew marriage was a commitment,” Peter says. When they said “I do”, they fully expected to be married for a lifetime.

Vi referenced the poem On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran “…stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart… let there be spaces in your togetherness/And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”

They believe giving each other a blend of space and support has been one of their secrets to a long, happy marriage. “Being good friends helps when things get tough. And you’ll go through some tough stuff,” Peter says. “We learned to take it one year at a time; but talk continually. Talk about things and don’t hold it in,” he emphasizes. They both acknowledge that over the years, sharing gets easier. “We respect each other and cherish each other. And a good dose of humor helps!”

Marilyn and Dale Hoffman

Another couple who are residents at The Covington are Marilyn and Dale Hoffman. They met in July 1959 at North American Aviation where Dale was working full time, and Marilyn had a summer job before starting her senior year at USC. It didn’t take long for them to understand there was something special between them. They were married in 1961.

Drawing on their 63 years of experience, their first piece of advice for couples is to understand the importance of trust and respect in marriage. “You need to identify your common values,” Dale says. “And be flexible with your expectations.”

Like Vi and Peter Janssen, Marilyn and Dale took a pre-marriage counselling course. “It led to a lot of discussion, which was good,” she says.” Marilyn adds, “take time to get acquainted.” And once a couple is married, Marilyn emphasizes “work at it. Don’t just throw it away.” Both Marilyn and Dale suggest couples focus on their common interests, rather than their differences. “Find common ground. Talk about things,” Dale says.

“As you grow together, your marriage becomes a real partnership,” Marilyn says. “You accept each other as you are.”

Leslie and Roger Sievers

When Leslie and Roger were young lovers in Ohio, Roger was accepted to study business at Stanford University. Determined to stay together, he and Leslie married and moved west in 1964. This year they will be celebrating 60 years of marriage.

Roger’s father had lived in a retirement community and had a wonderful experience, while Leslie’s mother had chosen to stay in her primary home, which grew more and more isolating as time progressed. Given this knowledge, they knew which choice they wanted to make. They looked at independent living communities for active couples and became residents of The Covington in early 2022. “Our daughter-in-law recently thanked us for moving here,” Leslie continues. “It means that we maintain our independence while not putting the burden of decision making on them.” And should a health event happen, The Covington has the care and expertise available right here.

“And I do not miss meal planning, cleaning up or grocery shopping,” Leslie laughs. The community means that they have more time in their day to pursue their interests.

The secret to their long, happy marriage? First off, Leslie says, “make sure you marry someone you like.” Young love can make you think the person is “perfect from their nose to their toes,” she says. But as you get to know the other person and spend more time with them, you find things you didn’t expect. “You realize they aren’t perfect and neither are you. But if you truly like them, then you enjoy spending time with them,” she says.

Yet as they witnessed, happy marriages can happen at any age. They have watched residents at The Covington meet and fall in love. One couple came together in friendship when both partners lost their spouse. They eventually fell in love and are now married.

From these three couples, we’ve taken away a strong reassurance that through to our golden years, love is real and thriving; and having the right community around you brings further abundance.


About us

The Covington offers a warm welcome to individuals and couples from all backgrounds, cultures, and faiths. Set on 12 leafy acres, with luxury amenities like a heated indoor pool, personalized health-and-wellness plans, koi pond, lush gardens and 3 exceptional dining venues to choose from, The Covington delivers the choice, freedom, and flexibility all seniors deserve.

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