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Enjoying Valentine’s Day together for 51 years

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On a cold December day in 1966, Judy Ber, then 20, smiled, as she dipped one of her hands into a white knit-glove and noticed that it fit perfectly. She recounted that she then said, “thank you,” to her boyfriend at the time, Andrew Bland, then 28, who had purchased the gloves for her as a holiday present. 

Then, Ber spread out her other hand and put the second glove onto her hand, but something didn’t feel right. There was something small, cold and smooth inside of the glove, which kept one of her fingers from fitting inside comfortably. 

Ber took off the glove and gently turned it upside down, and out of it fell a shiny, silver Tiffany stone, solitaire engagement ring. Then, she looked up, at Bland, with a dropped jaw and her eyes widened, she recalled.

“I love you,” she recounted Bland saying. “We have qualities that match and I want you to be my wife forever.”

The two were married on June, 9 1968. 

Now, 51 years later, Judy and Andrew Bland are still together. They are happily married and have two sons, Michael and Stephen.

Andrew, now 78, has been staying at Lynbrook Restorative Nursing and Therapy facility in Lynbrook for the past three months to receive treatment for personal health issues. He will be released on Thursday, just in time to spend Valentine’s Day with Judy, who is now 71. They will have dinner and spend the evening together, they said.

“I believe in fate,” Judy said. “We were meant to be together. From the moment I first met him, I knew there was something there and that he was the one because I felt an internal feeling in my heart.”

Andrew had that same feeling.

“It was ‘like’ at first sight and I knew I wanted to marry her and that is why I asked her dad for her hand in marriage before I asked her to marry me,” he said. “We developed a strong bond with each other, which led to a happy, meaningful relationship.”

Judy and Andrew met on a blind date in November 1966. Andrew’s sister and Judy’s cousin were neighbors and they thought it would be a good idea to act as matchmakers. After the future couple was introduced to one another, they immediately hit it off. They went out to dinner on their first date, and they watched dancers perform and an orchestra play. They described their dating relationship as a long distance romance because Andrew lived in New York and Judy lived in Montreal. During that time, they would travel by plane to visit each other on the weekends. 

In their decades of marriage, Judy and Andrew said that they find that the secret to a healthy and long lasting marriage is having comradery and listening to each other.

“Everyone goes through disagreements, but you have to realize in a marriage, that you cannot always be right about everything,” Andrew said. “No matter how difficult a situation is, you can always smooth it out.”

“We can agree to disagree and that’s what’s kept us together,” Judy added. “We learned to respect each other’s differing views and we have a good, caring, warm and loving relationship as a result.”

Although the Blands said they believe that what they have is real affection, they don’t think true love is possible for everyone. 

“It takes work to continue to be in love and not everyone wants to put in that work,” Andrew said. “Fights shouldn’t destroy marriages because if you listen to each other and resolve the issues, no one will be bitter.”

Judy said that she finds that people can often be self-centered. “Love is possible for people, but they have to be a little less selfish,” she said. “They must be selfless.”

The Blands said that one of the things that has kept them together for years is that they find time to be together and they both have a willingness to keep each other’s deepest secrets safe. 

Together, they have traveled to Europe, went on 12 different cruises and visited almost all of the national parks in the U.S. They said they hoped to continue to travel the world together for the rest of their lives.