Couples find long lasting relationships

Published 12:23 pm Friday, February 12, 2010

Marriages sometimes come and go these days. As divorce rates increase, people have trouble believing in the sanctity of the everlasting union anymore. Couples come together and grow apart, confirming what was thought as love-at-first-sight was only a fleeting moment not meant to last.

That doesn’t stop people from giving marriage a whirl. Others see the glass not only half-full but brimming to the top.

Chilton County’s seen the results of pairings that endure the hardships that come with making a lifelong commitment.

A peek into the county probate records reveal couples married beyond 60 years. Pick your jaw up off of the floor and understand some folks can make it through the obligatory bickering unscathed.

At 81, Erskin Carroll loves his wife Delene, 80, more than ever. Unlike your average couple that tends to butt heads and stay stubborn, the Carrolls don’t argue over much these days.

“We never get into fights,” he said “There ain’t no two people living that don’t have disagreements.”

If at odds over something, the two take a moment to calm down and resist squabbling with the person they love so dearly.

“Everything works out good for us,” he said.

As if he knew Delene would knock him silly right when he said it, Erskin quipped, “She’s the best woman I’ve had and the only woman I’m gonna have.”

With a proud kick in his voice, Carroll remembers all too fondly the first time he laid eyes on Delene at a church get-together in 1949. If you ask him when he knew he wanted to marry her, he’ll answer before you finish.

“First sight, first love,” he says with a dollop of pride. “Nine months later, we were married. I asked her to marry me… she said she would.

As the years passed, Erskin and Delene talked about and prayed about how many kids they’d like to have. To their delight, he said the Lord blessed them with two boys and two girls. Today, they’re all married as well.

Erskin and Delene were married at her mother’s house by W.S. Cox, who they called “Billy.”

As kids rush into spontaneous thoughts of marriage or just rush off and elope, they forget to take the necessary time to get to know one another and determine if a life together is even possible.

Carroll, who courted his wife for just nine months, said taking more time is important.

“Nowadays, I’d wait a year or two to know the person better,” he said, stressing partners should agree on issues of faith or know whether or not the other is in any trouble.

If that bond endures and two people manage to hit 60 years like he and Delene have, he offers some advice.

“Keep on telling her you love her, and stick together,” he said. “Ask the good Lord, too. He’ll tell you.”

Mary Evelyn Johnson-Lloyd of Billingsley sure did, and that lead her and her husband J.T. into a relationship also lasting over 60 years. Still going strong, the two met while attending Billingsley High School before J.D. Hopper married them in the late 1940s at the minister’s home in Verbena.

Attending church and worshiping has strengthened their relationship, she said.

“I’d say you probably have to be willing to give at least 75 percent or more of yourself to the other one,” she said, as her husband intervened. “He’d say 110 percent. You’ve have to agree with each other over settling differences, raising your children and family and worshiping the Lord.”

In those cases of marital disputes, Lloyd said it’s best to simply relax and move on.

“You have to bite your tongue and walk away lots of times,” she said.

She’s a major proponent of settling those differences before calling it a night.

“You get a better night’s sleep,” she said.

For young people ready to say “I do” and stick together through thick and thin, Lloyd shared some of her own advice.

“Be very sure that you are right for each other and that you’re not just maybe marrying her because she’s beautiful or she’s marrying you because you’re handsome,” she said. “Those things don’t stick. You need to have the love directed by the Lord and have plans for the future under His direction.”

She also doesn’t recommend couples live with each other prior to marriage and that extended engagements can’t hurt.

“Long engagements are good in some cases, but that’s not necessary to have a good marriage,” she said.