As divorce and out-of-wedlock births continue to rend the American family into bits, with many tragic consequences following for both the children and the parents, it’s nice to see that some people still both take their marriage vows seriously and are successful in doing so.
That couple is Arwilda Whiteside, 98, and Cleovis Whiteside, 102. Mr. and Mrs. Whiteside were married long ago in July of 1939, meaning they now have more than 84 years of marriage under their belts, with many more hopefully still in the tank.
They met when Arwilda was just nine and Cleovis was thirteen. Cleovis had a special needs stepbrother, Elmo, who would often approach young women and grab their hands, not cognizant of the breach of norms because of his mental disability. Cleovis would step in and aid the girls, which is how he and Arwilda met. The two then married a few years later, at which point Cleovis was just 17 and Arwilda was only 13 years of age.
Speaking to USA Today about how to weather the storms of marriage by leaning on the Lord God, Mrs. Arwilda Whitesidesaid, “Pray. Know how to get on your knees, and get you a bible because that bible is going to have to take you through all kinds of storms.”
Their long-term marriage was drawn attention to by the Arkansas Family Council, a non-profit in the state that focuses on preserving traditional values, particularly when it comes to family values and family life. The Arkansas Family Council drew attention to the marriage in a recent event.
Speaking to USA Today about the importance of traditional marriage and stable families to mak ing a healthy society, Arkansas Family Council governmental affairs liaison Charisse Dean said that two-parent households in which the parents are married tend to do far better than less traditional families.
Shesaid, “Children that grow up in healthy, stable, two-parent households do so much better. Married people do better financially, they’re healthier, they live longer, and their mental health is better … We think it’s important to highlight this traditional family value of marriage, just to show how important it is for our society.
Continuing, Dean commented on how the two impacted their community with their family values and willingness to serve the less fortunate, saying, “Sometimes they had children that lived with them. They were just pillars in the community.”
The successful marriage of the Whitesides comes amidst a rising rate of divorce, particularly for older Americans in the Baby Boomer generation. Susan L. Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University,said
, “Well over a third of people who are getting divorced now are over the age of 50. We just can’t ignore that group anymore.”
And, commenting on the divorce rate rising substantially among Americans 65 and older, meaning that those people will not have a partner to age with and will instead be alone, Brown added, “This means more and more people are going to be aging, probably, alone, and outside of marriage, certainly.”
Featured image credit:Family Council Facebook