Longtime couples share secrets for lasting love

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

Forget the chocolate, the secret to a special Valentine's Day is to show your sweetheart the love you feel for them every day. And an unexpected gesture of appreciation, like flowers or a card, can't hurt.

This advice is from people who should know -- Kenai Peninsula couples that have spent 50 years or more together.

"We have had 50 years worth (of special Valentine's Days)," said Juanita Hillhouse of Soldotna, who advised couples to think of each other before themselves. "We (she and her husband, Lowell) have been married 50 years, and we're as happy today as we were 50 years ago."

Bob and Phylis Mickelson of Soldotna, who have been married for 51 years, remembered with humor the Valentine's Day where they both got each other the same card.

"Every Valentine's Day has been special," Phylis said. "We leave notes and there's always candy. We're always thinking on the same wavelength."

Glen and Dorothy Johnson of Soldotna celebrated a milestone Valentine's Day together. They dedicated their house on Echo Lake Road on Valentine's Day in 1987. At the celebration, Glen insisted the crowd join him in singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to Dorothy.

"He might sing it again to me this year because I'll sing it to him," Dorothy said.

The key to their 59 years of happiness together has been showing their love for each other every day, she said.

"And the secret to loving each other is just to give and take and not expect one or another to always have their way."

For Bob and Irene Phipps of Kenai, who have been married for 50 years, it's the little things that matter on Valentine's Day, like unexpected comments of appreciation to each other.

"There's usually special little things we do for each other," Irene said. "We go out to dinner and we exchange gifts sometimes. We have his-and-hers Valentine's Day bears that we exchanged a long time ago that we put out as decorations. We always exchange cards, and I don't think I've ever had a Valentine's Day without flowers. I always get flowers for no reason.

Harold McGrady of Kenai advised couples to be forgiving of each other. He usually gets his wife of 55 years, Rubena, a card on Valentine's Day, he said. If Harold shares his Valentine's Day sentiments about his wife with her, it will surely get him a kiss in return.

"(With her), every day is a Valentine's Day," he said.

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