When Bob Ingram saw his future wife Gayle for the first time, he was on a date with another woman. Gayle was on a date with another man.
In fact, the couple were part of a triple date. It was back in Ontario in the early 1960s when the three couples went out for dinner and dancing.
Bob was a late addition to what was supposed to be a double date. He was invited because he had a car. It was three young ladies and three fellows from the air force going for a night on the town. It ended up being a long, happy life together.
While not on a date with each other, there was something about Gayle that caught Bob’s attention.
“She was cheeky,” he said. “She just had a presence and a good sense of humour. I kind of liked that.”
Three weeks later Bob phoned Gayle and asked her out.
“Seven months later we got married,” said Gayle. “And it’s never been dull.”
The couple were married on Feb. 15, 1963 and have stayed that way for 52 years.
“We would have gotten married on Valentine’s Day but it was a Friday and the guys couldn’t get in from the air force base,” explained Gayle.
“And my boss wouldn’t give me the day off, he thought I was too young to get married,” added Bob who was 20 at the time. His bride-to-be was 21.
As time passed, Bob left the air force and decided to come back to BC, where he “knew people” to try and get a job in Victoria.
It was a big move for Gayle.
“We didn’t just travel across the country to B.C., but over to that rock, far, far away from civilization,” she said.
Gayle who has formal training as a singer, had a long range plan to eventually become a concert singer.
“When I met him, well, change in plans. And it has not been the wrong decision. It was definitely the right thing for me to do. I haven’t lost out on anything.”
Fast forward to 1974 and Bob was now working in Coquitlam with the school district and had two daughters. The couple knew the importance of family.
“Sunday, no matter what, was our day. We’d take the kids somewhere every Sunday,” said Bob.
One popular trip was to drive to Agassiz and visit a gas station.
“They made homemade strawberry ice cream … There was no bridge across the river in those days, we traveled across the railway bridge. And that gets your heart pounding,” said Gayle.
They also enjoyed camping with the family, starting with a tent, then a tent trailer and finally a camper van.
“Now we camp on cruise ships,” said Gayle
As Bob continued to work, Gayle, having raised their daughters, went back to school and returned to the workforce as well. She worked for the coroner’s office, in real estate and eventually started her own business creating custom gift baskets.
Despite being busy, they always made sure to spend time together and sometimes apart.
Like all couples, Bob and Gayle had joint interests and separate ones.
“I think it’s important that there are differences because that’s what sometimes stimulates things, the fact that there are differences. And I’ve seen people with the same interests become very competitive. That’s the last thing you need in a marriage, to be competitive,” said Bob.
“It also recognizes that both people have different talents. There’s no way in the world I could ever do the things that Bob does. I don’t have the skills that he has. And he could never sing,” added Gayle.
They are a great couple, but are individuals as well. And sometimes that individuality has led to minor conflicts.
“Happy marriages don’t come without differences at times. There were a few times when I have said ‘Bob, you’d have been much better off married to a little brown mouse who would not argue with you.’ And he’s always said ‘I don’t want a little brown mouse.’”
According to the Ingrams, a sense of humour and respect for one another are keys to a happy marriage. They also advise people to never play the blame game, work out issues, and don’t finger point. Always find a compromise.
“If you go to bed mad, nobody gets any sleep,” said Gayle.
After 52 years together, both Gayle and Bob agree that their relationship has gotten better, deeper and stronger.
“You either grow apart or you grow together. And we are fortunate enough that we grew together,” said Bob.
Gayle said it takes two to be committed to marriage.
“There’s a difference now, in attitude, that if it doesn’t work out we’ll do something else. It’s a throw away society,” she said.
Gayle said Bob’s fortunate that it all worked out.
“He’s way too old to retrain,” she said.
“I don’t want to go through the training process again,” he fired back.
Through the decades and the experiences, one thing has always made the marriage work – love.
“You’ve got to love. You’ve got to care. It doesn’t work otherwise,” said Bob.