Wisconsin’s Marriage Hall of Fame…have you heard about it? I hope so. It’s an exciting project of Wisconsin Family Council as a part of our mission of strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage.
So often when we talk about marriage today, it’s bad news. Marriage rates declining, the impact of divorce on the husband and wife and children, and more. We decided a couple of years ago it was time to do something proactively positive to showcase society’s foundational institution, and honoring marriages that have gone the distance is one great way to do that.
In mid- to late-January, we announce that we are accepting nominations from or on behalf of couples who are currently married 60 years or more. We handle the bulk of the applications online and ask for just basic information, including the couple’s story of how they met and some background on their family, along with their best marriage advice, and, if possible, some pictures.
Last year, we inducted eleven couples into the Marriage Hall of Fame. The top-honored couple was Hiram and Gretta Brown, from Rice Lake, who in March of last year celebrated their 79th anniversary. Sadly, less than a month later, Hiram passed away. His obituary included a reference to their being inducted into the Marriage Hall of Fame and how proud Hiram was of that honor and of the fact that the local paper reported on the recognition and put them on the front page! Their marriage advice was short but powerful: “Stick it out!”
From the Browns 78 years, we went down to couples who had been married 65 years. All their stories were heartwarming and a reminder that true love is about giving of oneself for the good of and to meet the needs of the other.
This year, we inducted 29 couples into the Marriage Hall of Fame. The couple receiving the highest honor of being the longest married couple went to Art and Marge Behling from Kimberly, who have been married 76 years and counting. Their marriage advice is “it takes a lot of compromise.”
Of the 29 couples inducted this year, 8 have been married 71 or more years. Nine have been together for 65 to 70 years. Again this year, each couple had an inspiring story and encouraging advice.
Marriage is the foundational institution of every society. Strong marriages that endure are critically important for the well-being of our state. These individual couples are setting an incredible example for the next generations by weathering the storms that come in any relationship and remaining with their spouse, honoring their vows, and growing in love for each other. That’s a message we desperately need these days. “Throw-away” marriages are far too common.
We congratulate each of these couples on these milestone anniversaries and are proud to induct them into Wisconsin’s growing Marriage Hall of Fame. Once again this year, we noticed a very common thread in the stories and the advice from these couples and that is that they point out that it is their belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ that ultimately has kept them together—a truth that should not be surprising.
Each couple inducted into the Marriage Hall of Fame receives a special framed certificate in recognition of this honor. We issued a press release recently identifying all 29 couples from this year and a number of media outlets picked up the story. We have featured these inductees on our social media and have a dedicated page on our website for the Hall of Fame. You can see their pictures, read the stories and marriage advice at wifamilycouncil.org.
Our hope is that highlighting these long-enduring marriages will be a real encouragement to all age groups. Every marriage encounters stress, some more than others, but no marriage is exempt. What these couples show us is that staying in the marriage and working through the issues together is possible—and worth it. Sticking it out and learning to compromise are about character and commitment.
We look forward to inducting more couples next year into this unique Hall of Fame, designed to give honor and recognition to Wisconsin couples who so beautifully exemplify what “I do” really means and as we continue to do what we can to strengthen, preserve, and promote God’s good plan for marriage and family!
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”