You’ve likely uttered a big “Awww” upon seeing Morty and Lee Kaufman sweep each other off their feet — and dust off the armoire— in that popular Swiffer commercial. And good news for romantics: The couple is just as in love in real life as they are in the commercial. We spoke to the Kaufmans, who live in Valley Stream, N.Y., about what’s kept their bond of 44 years so strong.
How did you two meet?
Lee: I was a widow and so was he, as we found out after we met. His little boy was in my summer reading class and Morty came for a required parent conference, and that was really how the whole thing started. And after that we kind of left Scotty on his own and got interested in each other.
Morty: I walked in and I said to Lee, “Scotty can’t read for beans, what are you gonna do about it?” She wasn’t too intimidated but nevertheless I felt that I laid everything out straight for her. And later on I came in to have another conference with her, and I said, “I didn’t come to speak about Scotty — would you care to go out with me?” And from then on it blossomed into a lovely romance. We’ve been married 44 years now. We got married on Valentine’s Day 1969, and we’ve had a good marriage. Our children are wonderful to us, and we’re wonderful to our children, and we’re wonderful to each other.
Lee: And I must add that Scotty is an excellent reader. It all worked.
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What drew you to each other?
Morty: You know, we both had been widowed in our early 40s, and there was a common bond between us in that we had similar situations. We got along fine. She’s a lovely girl.
Lee: Wow. … It did work out well. We never really sat down and figured the points of what was good and what was bad — it really just went along, especially when our children began to get along.
Morty: I’ll tell ya, I think an important factor was the fact that our previous marriages were both very satisfactory. We both came in with good concepts of marriage and then we were widowed in our very early 40s and we re-entered into marriage with a good attitude.
What are your secrets to wedded bliss after so many years?
Morty: You have to know that you love the person and you gotta know that that person loves you. And you have to be considerate of each other.
Lee: I’m listening very carefully to all this.
How do you resolve arguments?
Morty: You compromise or you give in. No difference of opinion is that important as to interfere with your love for each other. Each one of us gives in more than we’d like. But we give in.
Lee: We were each of us the youngest in our family, and my bigger brothers and sisters always told me where I could sit and what I could do, and if I threatened to complain to mom and pop they threatened me back, so that’s what happens when you’re the youngest: You learn to accommodate. And we found each other very accommodating. Really, that was a good contributing factor.
Morty: You gotta take care of each other.
How do you keep things fun over the years?
Lee: Well, we’re quite sociable. We’ve been theater-goers in Manhattan —
Morty: Opera-goers for 40 years.
Lee: Yes, that got to be our thing. Actually, Morty introduced me to the opera part of it, and fortunately I discovered that it was a nice thing so it was a good thing for us to share. There are friends who join us — we’ve been a group for a long time who does that sort of thing — and then the rest is just nice socializing that most people do with each other and with their friends.
Morty: We eat a lot.
Lee: Yes, we eat a lot. (Laughs)
Morty: We don’t cook too much. After 90, you don’t want to really exert yourself. You want things done for you in a nice, easy fashion.
Based on the commercial, it looks like Lee does all the cleaning in the house.
Morty: Oh yes. I wouldn’t get my hands dirty with that.
Lee: Listen, for somebody who was not a participant — I’ll put that politely — in any manner or fashion, I manage. And I have a helper that comes in. But [Morty] is not a good contributor to that.
Morty: You know, she’s giving you a misconception. Ask her who does all the laundry. She doesn’t know how to work the damn buttons on the washing machine, so I showed her.
Lee: It’s true!
What would you say to a jaded person who doesn’t think there’s anyone good left out there?
Morty: There are many people out there! You just gotta find the good points in them. Find common ground. Enjoy each other. Enjoy your friends.
Lee: He really covered it.
Morty: You gotta be optimistic.
Lee: You gotta stay optimistic and make sure that you’re a joiner so that you get to go places and get to be with people so that you can enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing.
Everyone wants to know: How do you keep the sparks flying after all these years?
Morty: Well, there is nothing racy. It’s just warm appreciation of each other. Your bodily demands vary with different ages as you get older. As you get older, you can just appreciate squeezing each other’s hand, hugging each other.
Lee: I just gave him a poke because I just want him not to divulge all the secrets of our successful life together.
Morty: Listen, there’s nothing quite as good as a loving hug and a good warm kiss. That keeps you going.
Lee: Thank you, Morty.
Morty: You’re welcome.