what amazes me is that some couples actually persisted in this terrible life style for so long.
Me too. My friend Marion pioneered for 28 years, from 1967 until her husband had a stroke in 1995, quite often with her two sons in tow, though she did get a bit of help from in laws with them sometimes.
I don't know how she did it, and she wonders herself now. Now retired, she has little money, no property and is living in a small rented flat. She's never had a car, so has to rely on public transport, although if she needed to go anywhere urgently she knows she only has to ask and Trev will be straight round there to take her.
I remember when her husband died it wasn't long before the elders and the co were round there trying to persuade her to go back on the pioneer list, and they were quite forceful about it, not gentle at all, saying things like "don't you think it would be a good example", and "it's what Ron (her late husband) would have wanted you to do", and all this after he'd only been dead a few months, the heartless b**t*rds!
There must be thousands or maybe millions of couples and individuals like Marion, people who gave up any hope of a reasonably comfortable life to serve the watchtower full time. I wonder how many of them really have no regrets, despite the bs they spout from the platform at conventions that it was the best way of life they could have chosen.