Never Argue, Always Love: The Enduring Secrets of Britain’s Oldest Married Couple

‘We had no idea we’d last this long’: At 103 and 102, Dorothy and Tim Walter credit their longevity to respectful communication and time outdoors.

KENT, United Kingdom — What’s the secret to a long-lasting relationship? A centenarian couple who have been married for a staggering 81 years may be Britain’s most enduring love story. According to them, the answer is simple — don’t argue!

Dorothy and Tim Walter, who are 103 and 102 years-old, respectively, say the secrets to the longevity of their relationship (and their lives) is never arguing and spending as much time as possible outdoors.

They met during World War II and have been side-by-side ever since. The wonderful couple, now residing in an assisted living home near Kent in the United Kingdom, met while working in different departments of a factory producing warplanes for the Royal Air Force and married in 1942 as the conflict continued to rage.

The great-grandparents later moved to a quiet village, where they bought a fruit farm. They credit living their life outdoors as contributing to the longevity of both their lives and their relationship.

Dorothy and Tim Walter on their wedding day.
Dorothy and Tim Walter on their wedding day. (Credit: SWNS)

“We had no idea we’d last this long,” Dorothy admits in a statement, according to SWNS.

The couple, who have two grandsons and three great-grandchildren, have been living independently without nursing assistance up until last year. Tim also continued to drive until the age of 95 and enjoyed playing the cornet up until a similar age.

He explained that he and Dorothy first met at the Supermarine company’s factory while he was an apprentice, and she was making parts for Spitfire fighter planes. The pair met there as teenagers when Tim would often fix the machines his future wife was using. Tim would then ride his bike to meet Dorothy after work but would often be forced to take cover as the German Luftwaffe’s bombers soared overhead.

“Because I was an apprentice, I stayed at the living quarters while working at Supermarine in Southampton,” Tim recalls. “I would ride my bicycle to go and see Dorothy. Quite often, I would be riding, and an air raid siren would go off. I’d leave the bike and get to safety. When the siren stopped, I’d be back on my bike and on my way.”

The couple eventually married at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church when they were both 21. Their first daughter, Carole – who sadly died in 1985 – arrived a year later, followed by their second child, Sue, in 1947.

Along with running their farm after the war, the couple also owned a boat which they would frequently take around Europe. The pair say traveling offered the valuable life advice of getting “out and about” as much as possible.

“We made a lot of friends and we’ve been lucky,” Dorothy says, according to SWNS. “France was our favorite place to go on holiday. When I came to Kent, I also joined the WI and would make wedding cakes for friends and family alongside helping on the farm.”

Dorothy and Tim Walter
Dorothy and Tim Walter have been together since they were teenagers. (Credit: SWNS)

Asked what advice they would give to couples hoping for a long and happy marriage, Tim says, “You can’t point to one thing, but, providing you are content with life and your partner, you’ll be okay.”

Although neither of them expected to live past 100, the great-grandparents admit that losing their independence has taken some getting used to.

“We’re looked after very well here and we take each day as it comes,” Dorothy adds. “You have to embrace it and we’re fortunate to be here.”

Jokester Tim, on the other hand, when asked how it felt to be 103, says “It’s just unnecessary!”

“My father’s the dominant one and my mother’s very easy-going,” says their daughter, Sue Willis, who is now 76. “That’s why their marriage has lasted all this time, I think. They’ve had a wonderful life together.”

Nikki Cross, manager of the Oakfield House care home when the Walters now live, says she was surprised to learn the couple’s ages when they first arrived.

“They have both settled into the home well – they still attend the weekly exercise class,” Cross says. “Tim keeps us entertained most days with his cheeky ways and stories of his life and Dorothy enjoys doing her puzzle books. As a home, we feel privileged to care for a couple who have been married for so many years and all enjoy listening to their stories.”

A database of the oldest couples in the United Kingdom lists just one other husband and wife, Allan and Dorothy McDowell, to have been married for longer than the Walters at 82 years and 64 days — less than a year longer than the Walters currently.

However, the McDowells’ combined age of 201 is lower than the Walters’ at 205. The next oldest couple in the U.K. are Reginald and Doris Woolgar, from Brighton, who have a combined age of 204.

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South West News Service writer Chantal Weller contributed to this report.

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