Love and Marriage journeys from three couples at The Covington.
For three couples at The Covington, a premier nonprofit retirement community in Aliso Viejo, perspectives on successful marriage come from first-hand experience. We thought February a good time to speak to them about love and fulfillment in South County, and we were not disappointed with the result. Their journeys through longevity, partnership and commitment have been as distinct and inspiring as the couples themselves.
Vi And Peter Janssen
Vi and Peter Janssen have been married since 1965. They met in college at a music class. “We were college sweethearts,” Vi says. After graduate school, Peter went into the army, and they spent a few years in Germany where their first daughter was born. After completing his service, they returned to Southern California.
With more than 58 years of experience, one of the secrets to their long, happy marriage is expectation. “We knew marriage was a commitment,” Peter says. When they said “I do” they fully expected to be married for a lifetime. Becoming parents made this focus even stronger.
They took a pre-marriage counselling program – yes, they had those in those days too! The Janssens highly recommend it, as it gave them a safe space to share some aspects of themselves and their expectations before they were married. As they look back on their lifetime together, their advice to couples is to learn about each other’s interests and support one another in them.
Vi referenced the poem On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran “…stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart… let there be spaces in your togetherness/And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
They believe giving each other a blend of space and support has been one of their secrets to a long, happy marriage.
“Being good friends helps when things get tough. And you’ll go through some tough stuff,” Peter says. “We learned to take it one year at a time; but talk continually. Talk about things and don’t hold it in,” he emphasizes.
They both acknowledge that over the years, sharing gets easier. “We respect each other and cherish each other. And a good dose of humor helps!”
Vi and Peter chose The Covington for several reasons. They had been living in San Clemente for 35 years and wanted to stay in the area. After visiting several communities, they chose The Covington because, in Peter’s words, “it was the warmest.” They valued the amenities available and the nonprofit status of the organization, as funds are reinvested in the community, not paid out to shareholders.
When describing their move from their long-term house to their new home at The Covington, Vi says, “it was a smooth transition.” And while they still spend time with their friends from San Clemente, they are developing a whole new group of friends at The Covington. “The people are so welcoming,” she says.
Marilyn and Dale Hoffman
Dale came to Los Angeles from Kansas City, via Iowa in 1958. Marilyn was born in Los Angeles. They met in July 1959 at North American Aviation where Dale was working full time, and Marilyn had a summer job before starting her senior year at USC. It didn’t take long for them to understand there was something special between them. They were married in February 1961.
Marilyn and Dale both came from strong family backgrounds, which instilled in them a commitment to a strong family of their own. This perspective helped when raising their four children.
Drawing on their 63 years of marriage, Dale’s first thought is the mutual respect they hold for each other, and he says they built that through shared ideals and understanding. “You need to identify your common values,” Dale says. “And be flexible with your expectations.”
Like Vi and Peter Janssen, Marilyn and Dale took a pre-marriage counselling course. “It led to a lot of discussion, which was good,” she says.” Marilyn adds, “take time to get acquainted.” While they were married after just 18 months, they spent a lot of time talking through important topics before walking down the aisle.
And once a couple is married, Marilyn emphasizes “work at it. Don’t just throw it away.” Both Marilyn and Dale suggest couples focus on their common interests, rather than their differences. “Find common ground. Talk about things,” Dale says.
“As you grow together, your marriage becomes a real partnership,” Marilyn says. “You accept each other as you are.” Over the years, the relationship becomes more comfortable. “And a sense of humor helps,” Dale laughs.
Looking back, Marilyn smiles, “We made the right decision.”
Marilyn and Dale moved to The Covington from their home in Palos Verdes, where they had lived for 50 years. “We were interested in a cottage,” Dale says, “and we knew people who already lived at The Covington, so were familiar with the fantastic amenities.” The nonprofit status was important to The Hoffmans as well. They like how friendly the people are, and especially all the activities available. “The transition was seamless,” he says.
Leslie and Roger Sievers
When Leslie and Roger were young lovers in Ohio, Roger was accepted to study business at Stanford University. Determined to stay together, he and Leslie married and moved west in 1964. This year they will be celebrating 60 years of marriage.
Leslie and Roger lived in the Los Altos community of the Bay Area, however when their son moved to Southern California, they knew that they would be moving at some point as well and followed in 2013.
Roger’s father had lived in a retirement community and had a wonderful experience, while Leslie’s mother had chosen to stay in her primary home, which grew more and more isolating as time progressed. Given this knowledge, they knew which choice they wanted to make. They became residents of The Covington in early 2022.
When Roger and Leslie moved in, they were surprised by the welcome. “I wasn’t expecting how friendly everyone would be,” Roger says. “on our first day, from the moment we emerged from our new place, we were greeted warmly by every single person. “It’s such a positive environment.”
“Our daughter-in-law recently thanked us for moving here,” Leslie continues. “It means that we maintain our independence while not putting the burden of decision making on them.” And should a health event happen, The Covington has the care and expertise available right here.
“And I do not miss meal planning, cleaning up or grocery shopping,” Leslie laughs. The community means that they have more time in their day to pursue their interests.
The secret to their long, happy marriage? First off, Leslie says, “make sure you marry someone you like.” Young love can make you think the person is “perfect from their nose to their toes,” she says. But as you get to know the other person and spend more time with them, you find things you didn’t expect. “You realize they aren’t perfect and neither are you. But if you truly like them, then you enjoy spending time with them,” she says.
“The longer you’re married, the deeper the connection,” Roger says.
Yet as they witnessed, happy marriages can happen at any age. They have watched residents at The Covington meet and fall in love. One couple came together in friendship when both partners lost their spouse. They eventually fell in love and are now married.
From these three couples, we’ve taken away a strong reassurance that through to our golden years, love is real and thriving; and having the right community around you brings further abundance.
The Covington offers a warm welcome for individuals and couples from all backgrounds, cultures and faiths. Set on 12 leafy acres, with luxury amenities like a heated indoor pool, personalized health-and-wellness plans, koi pond, lush gardens and 3 exceptional dining venues to choose from, The Covington delivers the choice, freedom, and flexibility all seniors deserve. Schedule a visit today to learn more. We’d love to show you around.