TOGETHER: Norma and Bernie Heitz have lived a long and happy life together, yet the two are reticent about giving advice to other couples.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
TOGETHER: Norma and Bernie Heitz have lived a long and happy life together, yet the two are reticent about giving advice to other couples.

(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle can involve maintaining a healthy relationship. Just ask Bernie and Norma Heitz.

Bernie and Norma have been married for 60 years. Like any couple, they've had low points in their relationship. But the positives outweigh the negatives and they've maintained a strong relationship over the years.

"You build up a good relationship in the good times, and in the bad times, you ride it out," Bernie said.

The two have six children, four of whom live in Madison. Bernie owned and operated Heitz Sign Co. and Heitz Car Wash. Norma was a secretary at Heitz Sign Co.

Bernie and Norma knew each other in high school, but didn't know each other very well. After graduation, Bernie joined the military and learned to fly jets. He was scheduled to deploy to the islands in the Pacific Ocean, but the war ended before he could leave.

Upon returning to Madison, Bernie and Norma began seeing each other around town and began seeing each other more and more.

"Just from that, we got along," Norma said.

Eventually, the two decided to get married in 1952. Bernie worked at the business and flew his airplane.

"It was only because of Norma I could do that," he said. She spent time with the children and made sure someone was home when they got done with school for the day.

Bernie and Norma don't have any relationship advice to pass out. The Heitzes said not only would they not listen, but it's something you can't really ask other people for help with. Their grandson got married recently, and Bernie said he didn't give any advice about married life.

"I think that young people who really are serious will work their problems out," he said.

"And I think that's the best," Norma said.

They agree on a lot of things. They root for the same sports teams and mostly agree on the same things politically. Norma was a Baptist and Bernie was a Catholic, but Norma joined the Catholic faith after they got married. There are some things they disagree on, but neither could name them off the top of their heads.

"Maybe we don't discuss them," Norma said with a laugh. "Most of them you forget, I suppose."

The couple travels extensively. They've traveled to Las Vegas for conventions several times and have visited their daughter, who lives in Australia.

They try to play cards at least once a week. That, including other activities, can help to keep their minds active and constantly thinking.

They agree that staying healthy and keeping their minds right has helped them to maintain a strong relationship. They agree there's a lot of work that has to be done in a relationship, but one overarching idea has been a definitive factor in keeping them together this long.

"I guess after 60 years we're still in love," Bernie said.