60 years a lasting love

15 January 1957. 163715

By Justin Flynn

When Charalambos Mounas arrived in Australia from Cyprus by boat in 1951, he didn’t know what to expect.
With no bedding and no mattress to sleep on during the journey, anything would be an improvement. Little did Charalambos (better known as Chris) know that his life would be enriched the moment he stepped ashore.
Five years later Chrystalla also made the journey and although they didn’t know each other, she and Chris began a friendship, which turned into courtship and then followed into marriage six months later. The Ocean Grove couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on 15 January.
Ironically, the couple lived only 10 kilometres from each other in Cyprus, but never knew one another. They have been in Ocean Grove for 27 years.
So what’s the secret to staying married for 60 years?
“Sometimes you just have to close your ears,” Chris, 87, said.
“First of all, she’s a top cook, but when we got married, she couldn’t even boil an egg. She’s very clever, no two ways about it. She cares about everybody.”
“Marriage is like a rough sea,” Chrystalla, 82, said.
“It has its ups and downs, but it’s a partnership where both of you have a part to play. He was a good provider, a good father and a good husband.”
Chrystalla got her driver’s licence on just her second day in the country. She has kept active ever since and still volunteers at the National Wool Museum. She was awarded Rotary Kardinia’s Community Volunteer of the Year in 2015. Chris has been equally as active – a 37-year career in the railroad industry and later as an interpreter and then followed up with volunteer work as a basic-English teacher for new Greek migrants. Both contributed to Meals on Wheels and Chris was secretary at the bowling club and a cashier at the Senior Citizens Club.
The couple have three sons and seven grandchildren. The secret, they said, to good parenting was to trust your children.
“You’ve got to give them plenty of rope to run, but know when to pull it back when you need to,” Chrystalla said.
“They both always said ‘Get out of the house’,” eldest son Andrew said.
“As long as we weren’t studying, eating or sleeping, they told us to get out of the house and do something as long as we were back for a meal.”
The couple received letters of congratulations from Hon Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria, State MP Lisa Neville and Premier Daniel Andrews.
Chrystalla keeps busy with her volunteer work and is active on social media and has embraced the internet – Chris less so.
“Only my body is old,” Chrystalla said. “I’m not a quitter.”
“I would have done all the Facebook thing, but whenever I bought a camera or a computer, she’d take it from me and I’d never get to use it,” Chris joked.