Moving Photos of Long-Married Couples

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UK-based photographer Lauren Fleishman was inspired to create her The Lovers series after finding a collection of letters her grandfather had written to her grandmother during World War II. Tucked inside a book next to his bed, the letters revealed the history of her grandparent’s relationship, chronicling the young love that brought them together. “They connected me to my grandfather and his 59-year marriage in a way that I had no been able to connect to him in life,” the artist writes on her website. Since then, Fleishman has recorded the love stories of long-married couples across the world, photographing them during intimate moments together. From Fleishman’s publisher:

Like her other work, this project addresses both artistic and documentary angles: sociology and the human geography of emotions, as well as the aesthetics of the body. In this work, colour photographs are combined with interviews where the subjects, elderly couples intimately involved for over five decades, describe their love and relationship. Couples from different backgrounds provide a look at the realities of love: how the previous generation experienced it, survived it, and, more importantly, how it appears in their lives. The body politics of the project become especially clear when gay and lesbian couples or couples with ill spouses are considered. In this respect, Fleishman’s pictures play a central role in addressing homophobia and increasing awareness of age-related issues.

You can purchase The Lovers over here, and see a preview of Fleishman’s heartfelt photos in our gallery.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Angie

You really don’t think about getting older. First of all, you’re aging together, and when you see a person constantly, you don’t notice big changes. Like you don’t notice, oh you’re getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say it’s a little deeper. No, those are things that just happen. You don’t pay attention to those things. I mean, I’m not thinking every day, “Oh my husband’s 83 years old, he’s gonna be 84, oh my goodness, I’m married to an old man!” And I hope he feels that way too.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Yevgeniy

We met at a dancing party. It was in January 1938. My friend invited me to the party, he said there would be a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her, but she didn’t like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her. I had a different uniform, but I’m still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Moe

Now I’m going on 88, my wife is 85, and I’m only wishing for another five or six years of life. This is all we want. We don’t want to live much longer. We’d like to see our grandchildren get married and be happy like we were. As a matter of fact, I always say to my wife, “I wish I could reach 94.” That’s the aim of my existence. And I’d hate to leave my little wife here. And she’d hate to leave me.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Leila

Little by little we see the changes in a person, but we don’t change in our hearts.That’s the way I feel, and I believe he feels the same way. We are always together, in good and bad. When we married, I was only 15. My husband was 19, and he was a father at 20. He was my first love and my last.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Golda

We knew each other before the war, but we never spoke. He was with other girls because he was much, much older than me. You know, he was very nice-looking! He was a tailor, and he had a place where he made suits for men. When we came back from the war, he had gone to my sister’s house. I was staying with her. In August of this year, we will have been married 63 years. I would say love came little by little. Not right away. We were young. And he was older, but I liked him. He spoke to me in a very nice way.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Yaakov

What is the secret to love? A secret is a secret, and I don’t reveal my secrets!

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Sheila

It was my mother who had suggested that I go see David because I had to write a music paper, and I had never written anything about music. So I went over, and I thought maybe he would write it for me. But he said, “No, I’ll help you, but you have to write it yourself.” He always had very high standards, much higher than mine. In everything. So after we wrote the paper together, he suddenly says, “I’m going to a party with some of the guys from the army.” So he took me out that night, and he was very friendly. And you know, I had never thought of him romantically. But he looked at me like a man who was just coming out of the army would look at a sexy woman.

Photo credit: Lauren Fleishman

Gloria

Well, now I gotta tell you a really funny story about that date. I was the kind of girl, with most of my friends, that when we went out on a Saturday night, Sunday mornings we were busy on the telephone telling each other how our dates were and I was the kind of girl that I fell in love right away. So the next day, I would tell my friend, “Terrific, I mean, I’m in love already.” But after the first date with Sol, I did not feel that way. I told my friend, “No, he was very nice. We had a good time, but that was it.” She was the one that came back with the statement, “I bet this is the guy you’re gonna end up marrying!”