The search for the longest married couple will come to an end on Monday at midnight.
Nominations have been coming in from nearly every state since October as U.S. leaders of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter – a 42-year-old faith-based marriage enrichment program – look to recognize and honor the couple.
Dick and Diane Baumbach, overseers of the project who have been married for over 40 years to date, have currently received over 235 nominations from across the states.
The project will name one national winner and a winner for each state.
So far, some of the longest married couples have been together for more than 60 years.
The quest for the longest married couples comes out of the need "to win a little counteraction with the increase[ing] divorce rate," Diane Baumbach told The Christian Post.
According to the Baumbachs, the project is designed to give honor to those who have remained loyal to the union despite the stress it can have over each individual.
"Whatever we can do to bring focus on the positive aspect of marriage and to give hope to those couples who are younger and look at the divorced rate, we want to really encourage them to do whatever they can to maintain their relationship because it's such a wonderful thing," they said. "That was really the reason we are focusing, to just to give a positive look at married couples and honor them."
They also mentioned that it is important to remember that the "divorce rate is not just a number but sometimes it involves a lot of tragedy, real sadness, and it really impacts the family in so many ways."
"So whatever we can do to give a positive light on marriage and [help] hurt couples to work at their relationship, we try and do that."
One of their greatest hopes is to continue the project yearly and "level the playing field" with the current divorce rate.
They highlighted some of the letters they have received that illustrate how important it is for children to grow up with a parents or grandparents in long-lasting marriages.
"It's very heartwarming to get the nominations from children and grandchildren and saying how important their grandparents or parents marriage was to them in their growth," they noted. "We are looking at all married couples not restricting it to faith-based. Everyone says 'thank God for providing this opportunity.'"
Recognizing that there are problems in the marriage and communicating those problems to the spouse is one of the most important steps to a lasting marriage, according to the Baumbachs. On that note, they also advise couples "to rekindle and refresh the feelings and the romance when they first fell in love. Those feelings tend to get kind of pushed aside with the stress of the world, children, in-laws, media, etc."
"Enrichment helps the couples realize how important their spouse is to them. Just with a little bit of effort, the payoff is marvelous."
On the Web: http://www.wwme.org/