PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In 62 years of marriage, Mimi and Paul Lazzaro have always loved breakfast together. Pre-pandemic they would go out. During the pandemic they’ve stayed in, which might stay the norm with the revelation that Paul likes the breakfasts Mimi makes better.
“Whenever I make the scrambled eggs he loves [them] because I put a little bit milk, a little bit cream, and the scrambled eggs become soft and sweet,” Mimi said. “And I make my own coffee with my mother’s coffee pot because my husband loves coffee; we have toast, and then we enjoy it.”
Eggs and toast is a common breakfast Mimi makes. Another is Sunday morning pancakes.
“On Sunday, nobody is going to touch my husband’s pancakes. Pancakes with the ricotta in it,” Mimi said. “So, Sunday is a pancake morning, and nobody can take that away from us. We love having breakfast together, and every morning we thank God for this.”
Even though the old adage goes that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” there is of course much more to the success of a marriage that lasts more than six decades. The Tablet spoke with the Lazzaros and other long-married couples in the diocese about the keys to a successful marriage, and how they overcome obstacles.
The answers varied, but the common thread was patience, commitment, and faith.
Weeks before The Tablet contacted the Lazzaros, Mimi said they were asked by a younger couple after Mass at St. Finbar — the church where they were married on Dec. 5, 1959 — the same questions about the keys to their successful marriage.
She replied, “ ‘Listen, it’s simple.’
“I said to them, the first thing is patience, because marriage is like a plant, and you have to cultivate it,” Mimi said. “You have to have patience, and you have to have love, because every day is not roses and flowers, but you have to be strong, patient and work together.”
Paul then chimed in that as a couple “you always have to support each other.”
For Alban and Yvonne Redhead, who married on March 27, 1965, the pandemic led them to take on word search books together more than they had before. Yvonne gave the example of word searches as a lead-in to say, “we’re always working together, no matter what it is.”
Alban added about their marriage, “it’s always been the togetherness.” That includes word searches, a real estate business and travel around the world.
“We both complement each other. We both work together. We worked in our younger years very hard, and what we had was both of ours equally,” Alban said. “Whatever we own is not mine, it’s not hers, it’s ours.”
The Redheads’ marriage can be traced back to the West Indies nation of Granada, where they are both from. They said they were friendly growing up before they immigrated to England at separate times. They developed a friendship from there, eventually married, moved to Brooklyn in 1971 and have lived here ever since.
They were both raised in the Catholic faith and passed on the tradition to their family.
“The Catholic Church was our basic foundation in our upbringing and we stayed in the Church. We got married. The children were raised in the Catholic faith, and we continue in the Catholic faith,” Yvonne said. “I think it was a stabilizing factor in our life together and still is.”
Alban also noted the importance of never taking life too seriously, and occasionally having a laugh.
Sandra and Fred Laviscount, who married on Aug. 23, 1969 at St. Gabriel’s Church in East Elmhurst, brought up patience and commitment as well. They said desire is another ingredient to a successful marriage and overcoming the inevitable tough times that arise.
“I always remember my mother saying that whether it’s the best and the greatest thing or the worst, that nothing lasts forever and that people don’t try hard enough,” Sandra said. “My parents and grandparents said when we were growing up you really have to put in the effort.”
Fred too, boiled it down to patience and a desire to keep the marriage successful.
“What I go back to is patience,” Fred said. “These things happen. You make up your mind what you’re going to do and how you’re going to handle it.”