There are 525,600 minutes in a year. Throughout their marriage, Norman and Eleanor Rothstein have shared more than 39 million minutes together. That’s 76 years — or a combined 200 years of life.
The couple celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in August. Norman turns 100 on Dec. 18, and Eleanor will blow out her 100 candles (well, figuratively) on April 18, 2017.
The Rothsteins were born and raised in Philadelphia and have two daughters, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Granddaughter Renee Rubenstein said the family is incredibly close. Sometimes they joke, “Wouldn’t it be funny if after all this time you got divorced?”
Let’s Start at the Very Beginning
Norman was friendly with Eleanor’s brother at Temple University and became close with her through him.
“It didn’t take me long to realize she’s the kind of girl that I was interested in,” Norman recalled. “And within a month or so, we understood each other.”
Tips for a Long and Happy Marriage
So what’s the secret to a successful marriage?
“Listening to each other and never getting mad,” Norman said. “You can get irritated, but never get mad. And never let a day go by in which whatever causes a particular problem that day, always smooth it out and forget about it.
“We have a great amount of love and respect for each other. Whatever happens, I always forget about it and so does she within a few minutes because it’s done and over.”
“We understand each other very well and we communicate very well, don’t we dear?” Eleanor added.
“Oh yes,” Norman responded enthusiastically. “No secrets, no bad days, no bad incidents or points of disagreement. It’s discussed and done with within a half an hour.”
Two Peas in a Pod
Norman and Eleanor have always done everything together — “all our lives, always,” Norman quickly added.
They’ve vacationed and traveled together, including about 11 cruises.
For 20 years, they owned a condo in Aruba. But one of their favorite trips was to Israel.
“I’ll never forget when we landed in Israel. I, in particular, have a feeling of ‘I’m home and these are my people,’” Norman remembered. “It was a wonderful feeling and I’ve always tried to impress this on my children, my grandchildren, to try to go to Israel, and they have.”
We Are Family
Although they have 24-hour care at their Jenkintown apartment, family members still visit almost every day in different shifts.
“We have a lot of family coming over all the time,” Norman said. “We have a very close and loving family. They never forget about calling us all the time. Hardly a day goes by that they don’t call or come and visit. We see them all the time.”
They’re both so proud of their family, noting that several of them have gone on to become doctors or business leaders.
A lot of support for their marriage comes from their family, which Norman said means a lot to him.
And after all these years, he said he and Eleanor both have “complete faith with each other.”
“Nothing comes between our love, nothing at all. There are no bad moments, no bad times.”
“All the incidents that have happened in my life and her life — the children, grandchildren, their growth and development, and the development of business ventures — all in all, it was a great trip down memory lane,” Norman recalled.
As for their upcoming birthdays, they hope for just a quiet evening at home, not making a big deal of it because it can become overwhelming with so many family members chatting and schmoozing in tight corners.
“I know what’s going to happen. Each one of the children and grandchildren will come separately or only with their family,” Norman predicted.
Looking Beyond 100 Years
After nearly 100 years, what does Norman hope for the future?
“Just to get up in the morning,” he joked.
Humor aside, Norman did have some advice for the younger generation about getting older.
“Have patience with each other. If anything is wrong, talk about it and forget about the arguments” — and do what’s right, he added.
“My whole life has really been wrapped around family. We’re so proud of our family — three doctors in the family, another going to dental school, the others in business ventures. The whole family has done well, which gives me a great amount of satisfaction because I’ve found that now that I’m pretty well set in life, I’m at peace with myself.”
He continued that they’re not too concerned for their family in the future because they know they are going to do great things.
“Love, understanding, patience — what else is in life? I guess we’re pretty lucky.”
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