Wedding bells in the United States are growing faint. In 2019 there were less marriages in a higher population than in the year 2000, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So anniversaries of 50, 60 or 70 years are become rare milestones.
One couple, however, is celebrating 79 years of blissful marriage on July 3, 2021, and has the best piece of advice for others out there on how to make love last.
Sitting together, side by side, Mary and Donald Hepler of Lawrence County say they treasure these moments.
“God has just blessed us oodles and oodles of times,” said Mary Hepler.
At 100 and 97 years old, Donald and Mary still act like teenagers at heart, holding hands.
One thing is abundantly clear, their love has withstood the test of time. The couple married in 1942. One year later, Donald fought for our country in World War II.
Mary recalls those days all these years later. “He called from New York to say goodbye that they were leaving, and that was the last time I ever heard his voice for over two years. It was tough. You just waited and waited for the mailman every day.”
During that time, many women waited for their husbands to return, so Mary was not alone.
She says it was that time apart that gave them a greater appreciation for each other, which they still have all these years later.
A WPXI employee asked, what is the secret to a long marriage?
Donald responded, “We just keep living.”
Mary quickly interjected, “I don’t think we’ve gone to sleep at night without saying, ‘good night honey, I love you.’ I don’t think we have ever have, have we?”
“No, we sort of made that a habit,” responded Donald, while taking her hand to hold in his.
The couple says faith is a crucial part of their lives, in good and bad times. Those bad times include when Mary was diagnosed with cancer, and when both got COVID-19. Their greatest advice is to remember the feelings of those by our sides.
“Can I say, we generally kiss?” Donald said while looking at his wife.
Mary responded, “You’re allowed to say that, you are married to me. You can kiss me any time you want,”
The Heplers had five children, and now they have 77 direct descendants and are great-great-grandparents.
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