Golden years

Linda LeRette thinks commitment is what makes a strong marriage.

LeRette and her husband Steve have been married 51 years.

They were just one of the 24 couples from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in St. Joseph that were celebrated on Wednesday afternoon.

“When I look at these couples, I have known them forever, and I know the tragedies that have come into their lives,” she said. “Whether it is financial, sickness, loss of parents, we have all had ups and downs and not just one. But you stick together, you stay committed.”

The LeRettes and Ray and Jan Carlson planned a luncheon at Silvercreek Restaurant to celebrate the couples from their church

“We thought we should celebrate this,” LeRette said. “It is something unusual.”

Before the group enjoyed lunch, LeRette shared that she recently read that less than 6 percent of people in the United States have been married 50 years or more.

Prince of Peace Pastor Seth Jersild said he wasn’t too surprised so many people in his congregation have reached 50 years of marriage.

“In all of these couples, I see that the partners have great respect for each other and a gracious, supportive understanding of their partners’ strength and weaknesses,” Jersild said. “Also, they are all strong church-goers who share faith in Christ. This is evidence to me that their relationships are centered in something bigger than their own personalities they look beyond themselves and each other for strength and hope.”

LeRette said that every couple who attended was given a bookmark with a list of the couples, the length of time they had been married and a Bible verse.

The verse stated “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three stands is not quickly broken.”

LeRette said that all of the couples believe God has played a crucial role in their marriages.

“We believe the things we learn in Church and God’s direction and guidance is one reason we have been married so many years,” she said.

After lunch the group shared memories of their courtships and weddings.

Pam Franzen, who was celebrating her birthday, shared the story of her and her husband Darren’s engagement.

The Franzens, who have been married 51 years,  were headed to Prince of Peace on Easter Sunday.

“I remember wearing a pink hat, pink gloves and a pink coat,” she said. “I was so happy.”

Darren picked her up and they got to the four-way stop in St. Joseph and Darren asked her if she was hot.  She said no so he asked her if her hands were hot. She answered no again but Darren persisted and suggested she take her gloves off.  

“That’s when he gave me my diamond,” she said. “I was purely shocked because we hadn’t talked about it.”

In addition to sharing memories of their engagements, the couples also discussed how the cultural has changed and how younger generations look at marriage.

“We thought it was forever when we got married,” LeRette said. “I think we were taught that life is not easy. You don’t throw in the towel when something bad happens and you are not always going to be a winner.  We didn’t expect instant gratification.”
 

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