At a Valentine’s Day dinner tonight, 12 local couples married for 50 years or longer will meet to celebrate life and love.
The Celebration of Love dinner, which takes place each year at Mount Olive United Methodist Church in Toms Brook, has been going strong since 2014, said church member Christine Sutherly.
Games will include the Not-So-Newlywed game, with questions like:
“What was the most romantic thing they have done for each other?”
"Where was your first kiss?"
"What has been the hardest and easiest elements of staying married?”
“Where did you go on your first date?”
“Every year we give a special gift to the couple who have been married longest,” Sutherly explained.
“In this day and age it's wonderful to see couples who have been married as long as they have and families that they have shared together,” she said. “They are all a testament to love and how to make marriage work.”
Peggy and Joe Coffman, 80 and 82 respectively, will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in May. They attend the dinner every year.
“We’re the oldest married couple there now,” said Peggy Coffman. “And we’re the longest members of the church.”
Both grew up in the church, she said.
“I like the friendship, I like being with my church members,” she said.
Asked if she had any advice for making a long marriage work, she said, “Heaven sakes no.”
“It hasn’t been a bed of roses,” she explained.
However, there have been “a lot of good things,” she said. “We stuck it out.”
Linda Elbon, 71, will be attending a second year with her husband Charles, 73.
Agreeing that marriage takes work, she said attending church together every week has been a factor in helping their marriage last.
The couple will celebrate 52 years together this month.
“We have been together forever," she said.
High school sweethearts, the two met in the school chorus.
Shortly after his graduation, he was drafted into the Army. But she recalled that they married after about five years of dating.
“We’ve been very blessed with our marriage,” she said. “We’ve had a lifetime together."
Grateful for the church, she said it’s a younger group of members who put on the dinner each year.
“We’re looking forward to it,” she said.
Each year the dinner ranges in participation based on who’s available, Sutherly said. About 12 to 15 couples are invited, but usually about half that number attend.
“This year we have 12 couples celebrating,” said Sutherly.