MILLS: Reflections On Marriage In Louisiana

Sage advice flowed from Lawrence and Varrie Player, honored yesterday as Louisiana’s longest married couple, as they reminisced on what made their 80-year journey so joyful.

“When problems come,” said Ms. Varrie, “Just talk it out, walk it out and find a place of agreement.” Mr. Lawrence advised, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and good things will come your way.” It also doesn’t hurt if you “let him buy you a new car every three years,” added Ms. Varrie! Now that’s the wisdom of the ages, friend!

That wisdom was on display yesterday, as five of the ten longest married covenant keepers—whose love has lasted a lifetime—filled the dining area of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion to celebrate.

The 2015 Top Ten Married Couples in Louisiana are:

Lawrence and Varrie Player of Benton, 80 Years
George and Laura Harris of Baton Rouge, 74 years
Dr. Carl and Minnie Kelly of Benton, 74 years
Joseph and Felicie Rogillio of Rosedale, 73 years
Albert and Margaret Broas of Marrero, 73 years
Charles and Rita Serio of Morganza, 72 years
Arnold and Olga Jones of Junction City, 72 years
Charles and Helen Simon of Mansura, 72 years
John and Eileen Stannard of Leesville, 72 years
Joe and Eloise Marler of Otis, 71 years

Click here to read their stories. Most of them married right before or during World War II (or while on furlough).

This annual event is always encouraging me. When you read their stories and speak with them, you find that each family has had a similar journey as their families developed. Good and bad times came and children followed, but each were provided the experience and witness of a lasting and loving marital commitment, which in turn provided a foundational truth deep in the heart of each family member. Louisiana owes a great debt to these revered couples!

Sadly, this Valentine’s Day, fewer Louisianans than at any point in the last century will be celebrating with a spouse. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, barely half (50.5 percent) of American adults are married. That marks a half-century of decline in marriages from a peak of 72.2 percent in 1960.

Marriage deconstruction has many causes and consequences for society. Studies validate that children benefit from having both a mom and a dad who are married to each other and are actively involved in their children’s lives. When you see the decline in the married ‘intact’ family, it is no small wonder that crime skyrockets and our country continues to spend large sums of money to combat poverty.

As Brookings Institute’s senior fellow Ron Haskins observed in a New York Times story, “There are relatively few relationships that are more fully documented than those between economic well-being and marriage.” No doubt about it, economics plays a part in this legacy.

So—to our honored couples—Louisiana says “Thank You!” You have ‘talked it out,’ ‘walked it out’ and ‘found a place’ in which we can all agree!



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