Valentine's Day; Making marriage work; A marriage that blesses others

Last November 150 friends gathered to celebrate the 65th wedding anniversary of Irene and Almeric Chabott. In their years together, the Chabotts' generosity has touched many lives. ''She couldn't boil water when we first got married,'' recalls Mr. Chabott, who is a good cook himself. Sitting in their modest apartment, the Chabotts talked about their early years and reflected on their married life. Family photographs dot the walls and carefully tended violets bloom under a lamp.

''We used to rip up the carpets and dance in the dining room,'' says Mr. Chabott. They first met as school friends in Everett, Mass. After a seven-year courtship, the young couple married and settled in the same town. They later moved to nearby Arlington, where they have lived ever since.

The Chabotts both worked for the New England Telephone Company, Mrs. Chabott starting at $6 a week and her husband at $23. He stayed with the company more than 37 years. Soon after the Chabotts were married, they took Mrs. Chabott's parents into their home and supported and cared for them for a number of years. They also raised a younger cousin of Mrs. Chabott.

Soon they had a daughter of their own, Mary, who is now 65 and married herself. As a young family, says Mr. Chabott, they spent many happy summers at Rye Beach, N.H., and other nearby seaside spots.

His strong belief in the biblical commandment to ''love thy neighbor as thyself'' took tangible form one Sunday when the Chabotts welcomed a young orphan they met at church into their home, raising her as their own.

Despite financial difficulties at times, the Chabotts say they always had enough to live on. ''You do get along if you put your mind to it,'' Mrs. Chabott says.

Her husband says he doesn't like to hear people complain about not having enough: ''Just be happy that you're here.''

Irene Chabott says they have always worked as a team, and she believes it's important to respect each other's feelings and to talk things out when there is a problem. She says her husband has always been good to her, and she has been especially grateful for his care over the past 12 years. ''We've been very happy together,'' she says quietly.

Her husband nods in agreement, ''We've had a wonderful life.''

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