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October 21, 2014

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Couples share ideas to keep marriages going strong

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

A photographer snaps a picture during a wedding vow renewal ceremony at Las Ventanas. Sixteen couples – who have been married a combined 937 years, or about 58 years each on average – renewed their vows during a ceremony hosted by the retirement community on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.

In America, the average length of a marriage is about 11 years.

But for Herb Lowe and his wife, Bonnie, 11 years was just a warm up.

The couple, who have been married 70 years, celebrated their commitment Wednesday afternoon with a song and a dance at the Las Ventanas retirement community in Summerlin.

Sixteen couples – who have been married a combined 937 years, or about 58 years each on average – renewed their vows during a ceremony hosted by the retirement community.

“This is about celebrating the great moments together,” said Patty Allsbrook, lifestyle director at Las Ventanas.

Here’s a look at six couples whose relationships have stood the test of time and some advice they have for making marriage last:

    • Marilyn and Herb Steege – Married 40 years

      “You have to compromise. The one who wants to win doesn’t always win,” said Marilyn Steege, who met her future husband, Herb, in the 1970s when he was a Nellis airman and she worked for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

      The two say common interests, including a love for UNLV basketball, have kept them close throughout the years.

    • Elaine and Ron Stoller – Married 63 years

      Good communication is crucial in any relationship, Elaine Stoller said.

      “We always talk about everything,” the retired teacher said.

      Elaine and her future husband, Ron, met when both worked in education in Nebraska during the 1940s.

      The two retired to Nevada in 1990, and have been here ever since.

      “We love the desert,” Elaine Stoller said.

    • Rose and Mickey Mastropietro – Married 60 years

      Throughout the early days of their 60-year marriage, Rose and Mickey Mastropietro saw a lot of each other as they worked side by side in the pharmacy they owned in Connecticut.

      “We each did our own thing at work, so it wasn’t a problem,” Rose said.

      The two, who married right after college, retired to Las Vegas after selling their pharmacy business.

      Their advice for a long-lasting marriage?

      “Never go to bed angry,” Rose said. “That’s about the best advice you can give.”

    • Kay and Jerry Harmon – Married 52 years

      College sweethearts, Kay Harmon likes to joke that Jerry every other girl in her sorority at Oregon State University before making his way to her.

      “He saved the best for last,” Harmon said with a smile.

      Jerry Harmon flew planes for the Air Force for 25 years, which led his family on adventures around the world.

      The couple landed in Las Vegas, where they say staying active and having fun help keep them as in love as the day they got married.

      “We have a lot of respect for each other,” Kay Harmon said.

      “We care more about each other than we do about ourselves,” Jerry said.

    • Bonnie and Herb Lowe – Married 70 years

      As a young man preparing to enter the Navy, Herb Lowe met a beautiful woman who had recently moved into town.

      “Someone told me there’s a real good-looking girl you’ve got to meet,” Lowe said.

      That woman ended up being his wife, Bonnie, with whom Lowe would travel the world, having, as he described it, “a wonderful time.”

      The two’s love was on display during Wednesday’s vow renewal ceremony, as Lowe serenaded and danced with his wife, who uses a wheelchair.

      Lowe said in his mind, making a marriage last comes down to one fact.

      “You’ve just got to be yourself.”

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