George and Barbara Bush have been married for 71 years.

George and Barbara Bush have been married for 71 years. The Associated Press

The goal behind Source’s weekly “Meet” feature is to introduce readers to individuals doing interesting work that relates in some fashion to the sustainability movement in Maine. That’s a fairly broad category, but we’re still cheating on it a little this week. As we brainstormed about possible subjects for the best “Meet” to include in our sustainable weddings issue, it occurred to us that two of the most famous Mainers, albeit part-time ones, have a very sustainable marriage (in the other sense of the word). George and Barbara Bush were married on Jan. 6, 1945. They’ve had 71 years of experience in holding a partnership together. Via email, we asked the post-Platinum duo a few questions about the hows and whys of life after the wedding day, and they were kind enough to write back, even as their second son was preparing for the New Hampshire primary.

Q: You are the longest married couple in presidential history. You met as teenagers. Your lives together included every kind of disruption and volatility, from war to career changes – we’ve read you moved 29 times as a couple – and intense political campaigns. Is there a secret to your endurance or any advice you’d give to new couples?

A: At our age, we find that poor memory and bad hearing help this process tremendously. The truth is: we are both lucky, and we know it. Maybe that is the key.

Q: The President is said to have written a letter to Mrs. Bush on your 49th anniversary that said “You give me joy that few men know. I’ve climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.” What is the importance of a love letter in a relationship? Is it a lost art, given how much time we all spend on our electronic devices?

A: Well, it is not clear anyone writes or even types letters anymore, but whatever the medium it is important on occasion to let your partner know your heartbeat. After all, you invited them in your heart on your wedding day!

George and Barbara Bush on their wedding day, Jan. 6, 1945. Courtesy Bush family

George and Barbara Bush on their wedding day, Jan. 6, 1945. Courtesy Bush family

Q: Because you are part-time, longtime Mainers, we are going to assume you have some special spots on the coast that you like to visit or have shared together over these many years. What role, if any, has the natural world played in sustaining your relationship? (We’re imagining that any disagreement could quickly dissipate when you’re speeding away from Walker Point in a boat, headed for your favorite island, for instance.)

A: For us, the state of Maine is where we are so blessed to be able to come to be with each other and our growing (and unruly) family. Of course, we are blessed beyond measure to be able to call Walker’s Point – that beautiful slice of heaven – home while we are there. But wherever we are, it’s about being together. It’s about family.

Q: If you were renewing your vows, or had it to do all over again, but in Maine, where would you do it? What kind of food would you have at your reception?

A: That’s easy – Walker’s Point. But with so many grandkids getting married and having their own children, the emphasis for us these days is on “cheap and easy.”

Q: A lot of couples have established certain rules to follow in their marriage, with the hope that sticking to certain guidelines will help make their union last. Some say they will never go to bed angry. Others might insist on a certain number of meals eaten together each week, or a certain number of days apart each year. Do you have any rules in your marriage?

A: Try never to go to bed angry at each other. Ever.

Q: Is there any difference between sustaining a love affair as a power couple and doing so as an “average” person?

A: Every relationship faces challenges regardless of circumstances. What counts most is not what’s going on around you, but rather what is going on inside you and your spouse or partner.

Here’s to the happy couple.