Friendship through 60 years of marriage

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Friendship through 60 years of marriage

The key to a fruitful marriage is communication and cooperation – according to Kath and Rod Dilger of Howrah who will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year.

“The communication first, and then the cooperation, because if you ask somebody something you need an answer of how they feel, not just: ‘Well, do as you like, I don’t care,” so that you can understand the other person,” Kath said.

Married in Rosebery in 1958, the pair met when Rod was working in the town as a mechanic, while Kath had moved back home to look for work after graduating school.
Kath became the Sunday school teacher, placing her directly in Rod’s path, as he was serving as the church’s only altar server at the time.

They began dating when Rod was driving by and offered her a ride home one day.

“I thought, ‘That’s kind of him’,” Kath said.

On the ride home, Rod asked her out to the pictures and they began dating.

However, Rod didn’t own a car and their ‘chance’ encounter was at the urging of a friend.

Working in the garage on a friend’s car, Rod had seen Kath walk past and said, ‘There she goes again!’

His friend urged action, and offered his car.

“He said, ‘Take my car! Chase her – ask her out!’” Rod recalled.

After six months Kath moved to Hobart to study nursing, but they continued to date. They married when Rod was 25 and Kath 20.

After six children and being heavily involved in the Rosebery community, the family decided to move to Hobart where the children could continue their Catholic education without having to attend boarding school.

“It was a big decision and we made it together … it was really sad to leave but we’d made that decision for the better of the family,” Kath said.

Moving to Howrah, Rod found work as a mechanic, eventually buying his own business.

Kath says they always worked as a family – at home, and in the business.

“Really, I think the marriage is based on love and friendship,” Kath said.

“We’ve always prayed together. We’ve got little prayers we’ve said and a calendar on the desk has a much-folded prayer that I say every day, and Rod has his,” she said.

“Rod [prays the rosary] more often than I do. He has his beads and if he wants to pray for something, sometimes he offers so many rosaries that I have to help him!”

Rod says he’s seen how God has provided for their family and gives Him credit for the house and garage they bought in Howrah.

“All those things, it wasn’t my doing – I believe it was God,” Rod said.

In 1973 Kath hung a saying on the wall of their home and it has remained there.

‘Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; just walk beside me and be my friend.’

“I think it captures marriage, actually.”