25 January 2023

'We've never had a fight or squabble' - 70 years on, Elsie and Cliff share their secret to a long marriage

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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elderly couple

Married for 70 years, Elsie and Cliff McCrum have had a rollercoaster of life experiences. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen/Supplied.

Wagga’s Elsie and Cliff McCrum have celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary and have plenty to share about their life and unconditional love.

Asked what the journey had been like being married to each other all these years, Cliff, 93, said his wife of 70 years was nothing but “a good woman”.

“We’ve never had a fight or squabble of any sort. She is the best and can do anything,” Cliff said.

“But I don’t know how good she is at fighting, because we’ve never had one.”

Elsie, 90, said Cliff had always been patient with her.

READ ALSO Wagga couples celebrate 150 years of marriage

“He’s never one to argue or fight and never mistreated me,” Elsie said. “Not once. That speaks for itself.”

While Cliff was “a bit embarrassed ” when he first saw his future wife, Elsie, on the other hand, knew she was going to marry him one day.

As a young netballer, Elsie was smitten with Cliff, whom she says was a great football player.

“It was one of the attractions, and he was also a lovely young bloke. I couldn’t have gotten a better partner,” Elsie said.

family's four generations

Cliff and Elsie with their children, grandchildren and great-grandsons. Photo: Supplied.

“He didn’t drink, it was a big plus. He’ll have a glass of wine, but he’s never been a drinker and I think that has helped our marriage.”

Raised in the small village of Walbundrie, near Albury, Elsie and Cliff have known each other all their lives and went to the same school together.

Elsie said she was “a pretty confident young girl” and, at 16, asked Cliff to be her partner at her debutante ball, and he was surprised she had done so.


Elsie and Cliff at their farm with their son and daughter. Photo: Supplied.

“She could have asked half a dozen young fellas, and they would have all gone with her,” Cliff said.

Their budding romance began after the ball, and they spent a lot of time with each other.

Three years later, they became engaged, and soon afterward, Elsie went on to study nursing for the next 12 months while Cliff worked on the farm.

Cliff said his mother-in-law spoilt him after discovering he liked date scones.

bride and groom

Elsie and Cliff McCrum were married on 7 January, 1953. Photo: Supplied.

“She made a point of having dates scones nearly every time I had gone down there [Elsie’s house].

“I used to drive nearly five miles to see her [Elsie] three times a week.”

After they married on 7 January, 1953, the young couple bought a 4000-acre (1618-hectare) property with Cliff’s brother at Kikoira, 80 kilometres from West Wyalong.

Elsie said the couple’s nearest neighbour was “over two miles away” and none of them had electricity, a phone, roads or hot water.

“Our nearest doctor was 50 miles away,” she said. “That’s how we started our married life … we didn’t have much money those days, and as time went on, we bought another property and made a good success.

bride, bridesmaids and flower girl

Elsie on her wedding day with her bridesmaids and flower girl. Photo: Supplied.

“Life was hard, and our two children went to a local school.”

Elsie said that back then, “local community was everything”.

“We had a little two-teacher school, and it got down to one … and then we had to board a teacher because there was no place for them to board.

“We boarded a couple of teachers over the years. It was an experience for them and us.”

Elsie said she had always been the “talker” in the relationship, while Cliff had been the “worker”.

The couple shared a love of sport from an early age, playing football, netball, tennis and beginner bowls.

farmer on tractor

Cliff on his tractor. Photo: Supplied.

“We love our sports … throughout our lives, we played a lot of sport and made friends through it,” Elsie said.

Cliff’s partnership with his brother lasted 15 years until his brother married and moved to Victoria.

“That was a wonderful partnership because we always shared the same money, never had a fight or disagreements … that was a great experience,” Elsie said.

As their life progressed on the farm, Cliff found out he had heart issues, so the couple decided to retire and bought a two-hectare block in Wagga.

They lived at the property for about 16 years and moved again, into town, when it became “too much” for them.

elderly couple

Elsie and Cliff received congratulatory messages from King Charles and local politicians. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

“It was a big home, and we’ve always entertained a lot,” Elsie said. “It’s never been a house, it’s always been a home that everyone comes to.”

Elsie shared that the couple had had several health scares throughout their lives.

Cliff suffered a heart attack in the Greek islands and was flown to Athens, where he was in the ICU for five days. Since then, he has had two strokes, while Elsie has had cancer.

“We’re very proud we both got to this day,” Elsie said.

elderly couple

The couple said they had never had an argument during their long marriage. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

After 70 years of love, respect and adoration, the couple shared their wisdom for a long, happy marriage.

The McCrums said couples should ”always do things together and share everything”. It wasn’t ”yours and mine” but rather ”ours”.

READ ALSO First Nations couple get married in miraculously refurbished century-old church building

“Have respect and love for each other. Respect is another form of love,” Cliff said.

Elsie’s advice was for people to “have families”.

“As you get older, you realise how much your family mean to you. They always did. Our two great-grandsons give us a lot of pleasure,” she said.

Original Article published by Shri Gayathirie Rajen on Region Riverina.

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