Although their wedding wasn’t broadcast on national television, involving millions of dollars and millions of viewers, Geri and Harry Feinman have had a much more memorable experience than the “stars” of “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.”
Geri and Harry Feinman will celebrate 64 years of marriage in June.
One of the first things you see when you walk into their Scottsdale home is a collage of pictures on the wall. Photographs document their daughter Arlene’s life, from infancy to marriage. Other photographs show their three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
One weekend in 1934, a 16-year-old Geri Schainen went with a friend to a dance. At first she refused to go because she was worried about running into a past date who didn’t know how to dance. However, only two boys were there and one was Geri’s future husband, then 17.
“He was my dream man except I wanted someone with dark hair and he had light brown hair,” she says.
Harry liked what he saw too – he asked her to twirl around in front of him so he could get a good look.
The couple began spending time together.
“Actually we’re not married 64 (years), we’ve been married 66 1/2 years,” Harry says.
“He’s talking about the 2 1/2 years we kept company,” Geri explains.
They got married after they finished high school.
At that time, people got married young, Geri says. “Today they are smarter, they want to live a little first. I think you should get married when you’re about 25.”
“Not many people have long marriages today,” Harry says. “It’s unfortunate. You see, sometimes when the young ones have an argument today, they say ‘why do I have take this crap’…they just pick themselves up and get a divorce; they break up families. One thing I’ll say about marriage: You have to work on it every day.”
“You have to take the good with the bad,” Geri says. “Two people living together are never fully happy. You can’t be. They’re two different human beings.”
“You have to be honest about the whole thing,” Harry says.
When they met, Harry was acting on the stage and he watched his friends move to California to try to find success in Hollywood. “I had a choice – her or California.” He loved Geri and decided a life with her was more important.
Harry was a traveling shoe salesman and later designed shoes.
Although they are both in their early 80s, they try not to let their age stop them from enjoying life.
“We feel that once you pass the age of 80, you are living on borrowed time and we cherish it. Therefore, when anyone asks me how I feel, I invariably reply, ‘I woke up this morning, so I know I’m still alive,’ ” Geri says.
Geri still likes to Lindy and loves to tango, but they don’t dance as often as they used to, she says. Harry is a good dancer, she says, but he doesn’t like it.
They both enjoy cruising. “It’s the only way to travel,” Geri says, while Harry is on the phone, talking about a cruise brochure he holds in his hand. They’ve traveled to Argentina, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Hong Kong, China, Alaska and Mexico.
They also enjoy going to the movies and visiting their family.
“We are fortunate that our bodies are still well preserved on the outside. However, on the inside, from the neck down, there is trouble brewing,” Geri says.
“No one looks good when they first get out of bed in the morning, and neither do we. Many times in the morning, we look at each other and laugh. We cannot understand who the old people are who have taken over our bodies because, spiritedly, we still feel like we are 35,” Geri says.
“My husband and I have not had a fairytale marriage,” she says. “I don’t think that happens in real life. We’ve had differences of opinions, we’ve been disappointed with each other at times, and we’ve suffered painful situations together. But we both weathered them and stayed together,” Geri says.
It appears they’ve set a good example, because their daughter, who lives nearby, will celebrate her 44th anniversary with her husband, Jack Millman, in June.
One of the most important aspects of a lasting marriage is compatibility, Geri says. “That’s the basis. Be compatible. You don’t have to want everything he wants; he doesn’t have to want everything you want. You have to compromise and be compatible.”
What is Harry’s advice?
“If you meet the right partner, you have the best thing of all.”
What do you look for in the right partner? “A good heart,” he says.
Harry picks up their 1936 wedding picture.
“You were beautiful, oh boy. This isn’t me. This isn’t the same guy. I don’t know what happened to this guy.”
“He got older,” Geri says.
Harry is quiet, as he stares at the picture.
“You could fall in love with this guy. Look how beautiful you are,” he then says to his wife. “Didn’t we both make a beautiful couple? Where did the years fly? What a time. This brings back a lot of memories, this picture.”
This article first appeared on jewishaz.com.