POST 50

Then-And-Now Photos Of 19 Couples Will Make You Believe In Lasting Love

02/04/2015 06:51 am ET | Updated Feb 04, 2015

Since 1990, the divorce rate for Americans 50 and older has doubled, even as the overall divorce rate has fallen. But despite the bleak statistics, successful longtime marriages aren't entirely obsolete. And we have the pictures to prove it.

Over the past week, we reached out to our followers on Facebook who've been married a long, long time. We asked couples to send us a photo of them when they were first together and one from the present. Scroll down and see images of 19 beautiful couples -- as well as their advice for maintaining a happy marriage.

The secret for one couple is to just keep talking; for another it's the ability to make each other laugh. Have anything to add? Please do so in comments. Happy Valentine's Day!

  • Patrick and Christina O'Neill -- Married 20 Years
    Courtesy Patrick O'Neill
    "Here's Patrick and I at 22-years-old. And today. What keeps us together is knowing how much we make each other laugh and that we are each other's best friend."
  • Michael and Ellen Kelly -- Married 35 Years
    Courtesy Ellen and Michael Kelly
    "The answer to staying happily married is easy: start with love and then keep the love alive with respect and understanding. Take time consistently to be with each other and no one else even after children and successful careers come along. Remember why you fell in love in the beginning."
  • Tom and Lisa Brown -- Married 32 Years
    Courtesy Lisa Brown
    "A picture of my husband Tom and I in July of 1981, just four years after meeting and dating as sophomores in high school. We married in 1982 as 20-year-olds. We've raised three children, the youngest with special needs, and cared for both my parents who were disabled by illness fairly young in life. We've struggled through Tom's alcohol addiction and my bouts of depression. But what keeps us together is an abiding love and respect for one another, and the belief that family is everything. We just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary on Nov. 27th, and if you count the five years we dated before getting married, we've been together 37 years! The second picture shows us at Christmas in December, celebrating the gift of hearing our first grandchild's heartbeat in the elephant toy! Looking forward to meeting our granddaughter in May of this year."
  • Burt Bakman and Paula Rudelir Bakman -- Married 20 Years
    Courtesy Burt Bakman
    "Don't get me wrong, there have been times I wanted to strangle her but that's a part of every normal relationship. You talk about it, you figure it out and you move on. Every day I wake up, I see her and I think how beautiful she is. She's the best mom in the world. She's a great person. She makes it easier for me. We also grew up together, so our foundation is deep and solid and it would take something very serious to break us up at this point -- versus the new relationships where not much has been invested and people jump ship early when they really could have stuck around and worked things out easily."
  • Scott and Sherri Kuhn -- Married 27 Years
    Courtesy Sherri Kuhn
    "People are often surprised that I married my high school sweetheart and, honestly, I think it was just in the stars. Teenagers are still growing up and changing, and most of us are nothing like our 16-year-old selves. But when you love someone and you let them grow, while growing in your own direction, you might find that your paths stay somewhat parallel -– or at least meet up again down the road. That’s how I feel about our relationship. We loved each other, we grew, and our paths combined. And I couldn’t be happier."
  • Dan and Chris Nitzsche -- Married 20 Years
    Courtesy Chris Nitzsche
    "We met in college, me a non-traditional student, he 14 years my junior. My second marriage and his first. Many thought we wouldn't last. As you can see from our recent photo our marriage just improved us. We share the same core values and morals, and we prioritize our relationship. He keeps me young and I keep him smiling! We celebrated our 20th anniversary on September 17th. We traveled to Germany and spent a week there in celebration."
  • Kim and Monica Konyar -- Married 39 Years
    Courtesy Monica Konyar
    "When we married in 1975, I was 18 and my husband was 20. We will celebrate our 40th anniversary in August! Marriage is complicated and can be difficult. Keep talking to each other and don't give up so easily."
  • Henry and Abimbola Essien-Nelson -- Married 22 Years
    Courtesy Henry & Abimbola Essien-Nelson
    "What kept us together these 21+ years? Honestly? The God's honest truth? God. He ordained us. It will be 22 years on May 1, 2015."
  • Dave and Barbara Hammond -- Married 46 Years
    Courtesy Barbara Hammond
    "We were two kids starting life together with an immediate family. The upside of it was that, by our forties, we were empty nesters and enjoying life. Then we began to drift apart. I was prepared to move out but the day before I was to sign a lease on an apartment my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. The universe works in mysterious ways! I kept a journal and turned it into an e-book. Here's the link: http://www.zeroto60andbeyond.com/my-books/while-you-were-sleeping/ We celebrated 46 years together last October in our new 'forever' home in Cape May, NJ and looking forward to many more! Life is good!"
  • Kurt and Amy Ruhlin -- Married 30 Years
    Amy Ruhlin
    "My husband, Kurt, and I have been married for 30 years. The older photo with my poodle hair is on the eve of our wedding in 1984. What's kept us together? True love and hard work."
  • Rick and Amy Wise -- Married 19 Years
    Courtesy Amy Wise
    "We will be married 20 years in November. The first picture was taken in September 1996 for our first anniversary. The second picture was taken this past November."
  • Bob and Bev Meaux -- Married 22 Years
    Courtesy Bob and Bev Meaux
    "We are together still because of honesty, love and unparalleled trust that no matter what happens we have each other's back and love each other unconditionally at home and at work. We will pick each other up and not let people or life come between us much."
  • Richard and Laura Arruda -- Married 26 Years
    Courtesy Laura Arruda
    "The first pic was taken right after we started dating (July 1982). We were married in December 1988 and the second picture was taken when we renewed our vows in February 2013. What's kept us together? Love. Also, we have four kids: Everett, 24, Melina, 20, Elias, 18, and Ileana, 13."
  • Troy and Kathy Sella -- Married 23 Years
    Courtesy Kathy Sella
    "Here are our pictures from 1991 and 2014. I've also included the four C's which we've used to keep our relationship strong. We live by the four C’s of marriage: Caring, Commitment, Communication and Compromise. Just a side note, my parents are happier today than the day they married and they've have been married for 56 years after just knowing each other for six months. And Troy's parents divorced when he was 4-years-old. His mom remarried and divorced again. So we come from two different backgrounds but are both committed to staying happily married."
  • David and Janine Thiemann -- Married 33 Years
    Courtesy Janine Thiemann
    "God, respect and commitment and, of course, love keep us together. Married for 33 years (at 18 and 21)."
  • Ron and Kathie Lindstrom -- Married 44 Years
    Courtesy Kathie Lindstrom
    "I would say [our marriage] hasn’t always been 'happy', everyone goes through some tough stretches. But I would say whenever we felt the well of love starting to dry up, we dug a little deeper. We share the same faith and we would talk more, spend more time together and, rather than reacting to reactions, tried harder to understand what was behind the reaction. That brought us to a much deeper level of understanding and love. And did I mention that the four sons, one daughter, three daughter-in-loves and six grandchildren bring such a huge happiness to us and our home:)?"
  • Peter and Sharon Greenthal -- Married 25 Years
    Courtesy Sharon Greenthal
    "Here we are on our wedding day and celebrating our 25th anniversary. Wedding photo was taken August 26, 1989 and the second is 25 years later. Every day we decide we're going to love each other and stay married. And we're kind to each other. Those two things have kept us going!"
  • Bill and Carol Dukes -- Married 29 Years
    Courtesy Carol Dukes
    "I met my husband, Bill, 32 years ago. My friend carpooled with Bill's roommate, and when we were at a happy hour one Friday night they started talking about him. The roommate, Mike, was saying, 'Yeah, Bill is home, watching PBS, drinking beer, and he's going up to help at a church camp tomorrow.' 'Let's call him up and tell him to join us!' I quickly said. He sounded like a great guy -- smart (watching PBS) but laid back (drinking beer) and working at a church camp on his vacation, although he was a 29-year-old guy. I am moderately intelligent, mostly laid back, and my parents had managed a church camp during the summers when I was growing up! (Not the same one.) When he walked in to join us, I said, 'You're cute!' and he said, 'You're cute!' I kissed him right then, and that was it! Just shy of two years later we were married -- on 5/5/85 so we wouldn't forget! I think our initial meeting represents some reasons why we have stayed happily together. He is so smart (he even won on Jeopardy) and challenges me. He is easygoing, so I often challenge him. He talks me down when I'm in a 'mood,' and vice versa. I still think he is the most fun, caring, loving person I've ever known, and he keeps me laughing all the time. And -- I still really like to kiss him!"
  • Glenn and Marie Woods -- Married 31 Years
    Courtesy Marie Woods
    "My husband Glenn and I have been married 31 (+) years. Our relationship has endured lots of life's ups and downs, but we have managed to remain honest and true to one another. I believe this was possible because of the love and support of our family and friends. At times of trouble, their guidance and belief in us, steadied our course. We are grateful for our marriage and for the love we share with our great group of friends and family. "These pictures were taken at St. Anselm Church in Sudbury, Massachusetts at our wedding on June 17, 1983 and on our anniversary in 2013. The third picture was taken at our daughter's wedding. This is an example of the love we share."

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Earlier on HuffPost50:

Couples Celebrating 25 Years Of Marriage
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