Creative Romance Month is meant for celebrating love and sharing love stories, and the story of Tony and Marie Maltese is heartwarming to say the least. They met 70 years ago in 1949 when Tony returned home from the Air Force. Fast forward to the present, and the couple is happily married and living at La Posada, a premier continuing care retirement community. The Malteses both agree that no matter who you spend your time with or give your love to, it’s important that you enjoy doing the same things.
“Our thing has always been dancing, it was what we did on our first date and we continue to dance to this very day,” said Marie. “I met Tony’s younger brother in high school and he expressed interest in dating a girl who happened to be my cousin. Well, they hit it off, and I hung out with them a lot because they were not allowed to go on dates by themselves. I saw Tony’s picture at his house quite often, and one day I told his younger brother that when Tony came home from the service he was going to be mine. His younger brother told me I didn’t have a chance, yet when Tony came home he wanted me, naturally.”
“After I returned, I was waxing my car in the driveway when she showed up,” said Tony. “We got to talking, I asked her on a date and we decided to go ballroom dancing. I was 22 years old at the time and she was 18. Turns out we had a lot in common and started doing everything together – drive-in movies, ballroom dancing and family parties. Marie comes from a big family, and they hosted parties quite often. We went on double dates with our friends, cousins and siblings, too.”
After a year of getting to know each other and going on several dates, Tony proposed to Marie. They were married on September 10, 1950 in Garfield, N.J., with 300 people in attendance. Five years later, they welcomed the first of what would eventually be three children. Marie and Tony agree that in a marriage with children, you have to be patient and be prepared to go through things you do not like. Marie stayed home to raise the children and spent a lot of her time teaching them how to cook. Now when they meet up, the boys discuss what they cooked recently and show pictures. She also taught them how do chores and appropriate dating etiquette.
“Even when we raised our sons, we continued to go out on dancing dates,” said Marie. “We went ballroom dancing for many years until our son invited us to attend country line-dancing classes when we were visiting him in Cincinnati. We had such a good time we decided to find a place that taught country dancing in Florida and did not tell our son. Three months later, he invited us to attend a hoedown and was quite surprised when Tony and I tagged along at the end of several line dances. We ended up teaching his group things they didn’t know.”
“From that point on, we started acquiring country clothing and accessories, enough over the years that we easily fill up two closets,” said Tony. “We now know 300 country dances and even pair the footwork with music that is not country. We were on a country dance team for five years and danced six times a week at places like skilled nursing homes, festivals and car dealerships. I found that after so many years of dancing, your brain remembers all the footwork, and when a song comes on with a particular beat, your feet know exactly what to do.”
When asked what makes their marriage so successful, both agree that shared interests is key. In addition to dancing, the Malteses enjoy sailboat racing on Lake Ontario, watching the same programs, cooking together and more.
“You need to be compatible so you can do things together instead of separately,” said Tony. “It is also important to have a list of must-haves and a list of deal-breakers in your mind. If you run into a deal-breaker, do not go into a relationship with that person ignoring it or thinking you can change them. It will bother you down the road and most times you cannot change a person. This advice goes for anyone – young couples and even fellow friends at La Posada.”
“We all want the kind of compatibility that Tony and Marie have with our own significant others and our friends,” said Brad Cadiere, executive director of La Posada.