By Dan Teano and Amanda Gabriel
Elm Staff Writers

This week Dan and Amanda interviewed Dr. Richard Gillin and Mrs. Barbara Gillin to find out what it takes to be in a long-term relationship. With about 50 years of experience, the Gillins provide the perfect example of what it means to be in love.

Dan says… The most fortunate people in this world understand what it means to love and be loved. Dr. Richard Gillin, a renowned English professor of Washington College, is one of those lucky few. While interviewing Dr. Gillin about his marriage, I heard a love story I thought only existed in old English literature. From his very first words, I immediately recognized that his love for his wife is certain, selfless, and old-fashioned enough to last a lifetime. When I asked him how long he and his wife have been married, he said, “49 years and going.” As young as I presumed him to be, I was surprised by this impressively high number, which he calls “staggering.” Even more extraordinary though is the story of how he met his wife, Barbara Gillin. In Dr. Gillin’s freshman year in undergraduate school, he saw Mrs. Gillin at one of his university’s snack bars. From just a momentary glance at her, he somehow knew that she would be his future wife. Though it meant very little to Dr. Gillin, Mrs. Gillin was dating someone else at the time. When her relationship ended, his foresight overtook him, and he acted upon his instantaneous love for her.
As many students can empathize with, dating in college is very challenging. Although Dr. Gillin was admittedly not involved in his school’s extra-curriculars, Mrs. Gillin was very active and participated in many student clubs and organizations. During her small amount of free time, the young couple would frequent the movie theater or go on long walks. Dr. Gillin recalls that his first date with his wife was on a school-organized boat trip from New York City to Bear Mountain State Park. Even though their weekend getaway was plagued with rain, he enjoyed the privilege of talking with her ceaselessly on the ride back to New York. Five years later, the two graduates got married. When asked about the best part of marriage Dr. Gillin said, “utter reliability.” From the way he spoke, I was able to get a sense of the level of comfort and ease that his wife, his “emotional rock,” blesses him with, in spite of his hectic schedule. Dr. Gillin went into detail about his wife’s many sacrifices for his best interest. One of the greatest sacrifices she made for him was giving up her academic career in order for him to teach at Washington College. Although their love life is like a fairytale, he concedes that it has not been a stress-free journey. For Dr. Gillin, the hardest part of his relationship is maintaining and supporting both his and his partner’s individuality. Over time, he has learned how to become sensitive to her needs without neglecting his own. Although maintaining one’s self is difficult, Dr. Gillin said that such a problem should be solved intuitively. Out of all the adjectives he used to describe his marriage, the most repeated one was “organic.” He argues that you should know naturally exactly how much you should give in and how sensitive you should be. It is with this particular difficulty, maintaining one’s self, that he offers his advice to the young couples of Washington College. He urges them to understand relationships are an “on-going process,” and if they are meant to be, they should be “organic.” Young couples should not try so hard to force the attraction. Instead, they should let the romance flow and develop naturally.
Dr. Gillin’s love life is unique, but it is not atypical. If we apply his advice, we too can know what it means to love and be loved.

Amanda says… It’s not often these days that you come across couples that have been together for more than a few years. Happily ever afters only seem to be a part of fairy tales, but not for Mrs. Barabara Gillin. She and her husband have been together for more than 50 years.
Mrs. Gillin met her future husband in college when they happened to be taking the same required course together. As fate would have it, they were assigned to be partners so naturally they spent a great deal of time together. When asked about her first impression of Dr. Gillin, she said, “We didn’t get along. We were complete opposites. He was loud, and I was quiet. He was outgoing, and I was more shy. I didn’t like him very much at first.”
After getting over the initial skepticism about this guy she had just met in class, she decided to give him a chance and go out on a date. She said, “Honestly, I can’t remember our first date, but it was probably somewhere very nice. He is always so kind, considerate, and sweet.” They dated all throughout college. Mrs. Gillin kept describing him as caring and compassionate, which goes to show that first impressions are not always what they seem.

Dr. and Mrs. Gillin hold hands while hiking near Hadrian’s Wall in England during their annual Kiplin Hall trip.

Dr. and Mrs. Gillin hold hands while hiking near Hadrian’s Wall in England during their annual Kiplin Hall trip.

“We knew when we were in about our junior or senior year of college,” she said, describing the moment in which she new she wanted to marry him. “Dr. Gillin said he knew from the moment he met me, being the kind and sweet man that he is.” The two of them married in 1967 and are still living a happy and fulfilling life here in Chestertown. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of marriage for Mrs. Gillin was having two children and four grandchildren. In addition, both partners love to travel and spend a good amount of time together. She said, “He never wants to go anywhere without me, which doesn’t always work out so well because normally I don’t want to go wherever he is going.”
Although the two of them are quite happy with each other, their relationship has not always been easy. When asked about the hardest part of their marriage, Mrs. Gillin said that their financial situation was definitely one of the biggest struggles the two of them had to overcome. When they moved to Chestertown, Mrs. Gillin stayed home while her husband went to work, something that was new to her since she was previously the supporter of their family. In addition, she said, “It was very hard to be in a new town with not a lot to do. There weren’t many people either, and the ones that were here were not very accepting of non-locals at the time. The friends we had to make were through work, which can be challenging as well.”
Yet, even when their relationship is tough, they are able to work out their differences. Normally when they fight, she argues while Dr. Gillin listens. “I yell, and he’s quiet,” she said. “He knows I like him to give in. Like I mentioned before, he’s very compassionate. He normally just listens to what I have to say and then apologizes. We never let an argument fester.”
Despite their differences, Dr. and Mrs. Gillin have beat the odds and are still together and happy. So what’s the secret to having a long-lasting relationship you might ask? Mrs. Gillin had some advice to give to new and developing couples. “The best piece of advice that I can give to new couples is to always be open and honest. It is never a good idea to let something fester and not communicate, because you’ll eventually argue but then forget what you were initially angry about. It’s very important to cooperate and settle arguments. The best advice I have ever received about a relationship was from my mother. She told me, ‘Don’t go to bed having argued.’ I still follow that rule.”

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