CLOQUET, Minn.-What is the secret to a long-lasting marriage? There are many books about the subject and advice abounds on the internet.
Whatever the secret is, five Carlton County siblings and their spouses seem to have found it.
Jerry and Lois Anderson, Dick and Winnie Anderson, Fred and Bonnie Anderson, Barb and Ed Stahlbush and Doug and Janet Niesen all have been married for more than a half-century - anywhere from an impressive 55 to 62 years. On top of that, three of the couples still live in their original homes and Jerry and Lois live on the original family homestead in Esko.
When asked recently what they argue about, all of the couples initially looked at each other, confused, and then started laughing. Good-natured ribbing went back and forth among the couples, but nobody seemed to be able to name any one thing.
Finally one of the couples quipped they are all hard of hearing now that they are in their 70s and 80s, which makes arguing difficult - a remark that brought more laughter from the group.
The youngest brother, Fred, volunteered that when his wife, Bonnie, gets upset with him she sends him off to the cabin up north.
"One time I stayed 39 days," Fred said, joking: "If I would have known that, I would have stayed one more to make it 40."
Fred and Bonnie also like to go to Super Bowls. They've been to four and try to take a cruise every year.
Most of the couples like to travel together, but Barb and Ed lived on a farm, which kept them closer to home. They've lived in the same house in Barnum, Minn., for 60 years and have a running discussion on whether the clock should be set five minutes ahead or on actual time. The couple is very active in their church. They believe love, commitment and faith has been the glue to hold their marriage together.
"You can't just put marriage on cruise control, you have to work on it and have faith in God," Ed said.
"The older you get the more you do together because it takes two of you to do it," one of the wives said, bringing a loud burst of laughter from the others in the group, while another added, "That's the truth!"
"We've never had a family argument," said Ed, which brought comments ranging from "Oh, baloney" to "That's because everyone talks at the same time and nobody listens" - and more laughter.
Dick and Winnie have enjoyed their winters in Arizona for 15 years and are looking forward to going again next month.
Doug and Janet enjoy doing mission work and had traveled to Alaska six times for it, until Doug's cancer returned. Now they keep closer to home in Scanlon, Minn.
"She does the talking and I do the listening; we have very good conversations," joked Doug, who also claims to go to bed very early so they do not argue over what to watch on TV.
When asked what has kept the five siblings with their spouses, the answers were varied and rapid-fire: kids, traveling together, family, super glue, lots of camping, honesty and respect, love, family.
"Love does," Jerry said.
All five couples agreed that family, faith and love are the common denominators that have helped keep the marriages together - along with eating meals together as families.
And then there's Fred.
"We are all blessed to have Fred," said one of his sisters-in-law, a comment that was followed by more laughter.
"It's a good family," Jerry said.