They say that true love never dies; in the case of Harold Holland and Lillian Barnes, that just might be true. The Kentucky couple were wed on Christmas Eve in 1955 after meeting in a restaurant in Salt Lick. They would go on to spend eight and a half years together, parenting five children over the course of their marriage. But, like the average 40% and 50% of American married couples, decided to separate in 1967.
After an amicable divorce nearly 50 years before, the two rekindled their relationship — in December 2017, they were talking marriage yet again.
Each had lived separate lives in the last five decades: Lillian married Ted Malin and had two more kids before his death in 1986. She married Arval Barnes in 1988, who died in 2015. Harold married Maudie Corum, a widow with three children, in 1975. She passed away due to liver disease in the same year as Arval Barnes, leaving Harold and Lillian to bump into each other again.
“We have a lot in common,” Lillian said. “I don’t think we ever lost that love, to tell you the truth,” echoed Harold.
Although remarrying your ex-spouse is not a common occurrence, it is by no means rare: according to Dr. Nancy Kalish, up to 10% of divorced spouses end up re-tying the knot years later. The distance and growth that divorce offers can be a balm to the right couples who met at the wrong time. People change, better themselves, learn from their mistakes, and realize that their love is worth another shot.
Harold Holland will tell you himself that he was the reason he and Lillian decided to split; he worked too much, he said, and left his wife to raise the children and manage the house. Now the newlyweds can start fresh. Though he’s 83 and she’s 78, they’re both ready to spend the twilight years of their lives together.
“We decided we want to walk the last mile together.”