It was 45 years ago in September when a young John Dihm, fresh out of training for the priesthood, turned up at the local dance. Little did he know that he would go back to his parents that evening and pronounce that he’d met the girl who was going to be his wife. John was so sure of this fact that he purchased a nearby block of land the very next day. The coming November, on Derby Day to be precise, John proposed to Marilyn Jackson a newly graduated teacher, and to his joy, she accepted. John was 22 when he attended Marilyn’s 21st birthday party where their engagement was announced.
Not many people these days can claim 45 years of marriage. Marilyn states that it is not all roses and sunshine. In fact, like everything worthwhile, marriage is a lot of work. She states that their support for each other and the simple act of making time to talk to each other is what pulled them through times of financial and emotional hardship.
John, who has been the Parkin Patrol Minister with Frontier Services in South Australia for the past seven years, was not always a minister. In fact, his career has been long and varied, ranging from peddling bras and girdles as a travelling sales representative to working as an owner and trainer of horses and as a caterer. Before joining Frontier Services, he worked at the Peter McCallum institute for cancer patients in Melbourne in the pastoral care department. It was when he was in this position that he decided to become a Minister with the Uniting Church. Next to his faith and family comes John’s love of the races, and so it was serendipitous that their son Ashleigh was born on Melbourne Cup Day. A daughter, Bronwyn was born two years later.
So what constitutes a good relationship? Is it celebrating Valentine’s Day? Giving gifts? Marilyn says that these things are not important.
“Nothing is ever easy. You have to work at it. Communication, support and acceptance are the main things that get you through.”
“Caring for family and helping out with them whenever possible. We have seven beautiful grandchildren, as both of my grandparents died when I was young, and both my parents and John’s father died before grandchildren arrived, so it is important for me to ensure that they have the experiences a grandparent can provide. John was luckier as he had his devoted grandmother with him until a few years after we were married.”