Longest married couple in America honored for their devotion

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A California couple who married in the 1930s was honored for their long-standing devotion to one another on Valentine's Day.

Maury Goosenberg, 102, and Helen Goosenberg, 100, of Carlsbad, California, were recognized as the oldest known married couple in the country. The two celebrated 80 years of marriage on Jan. 1.

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"Everyone told us it wouldn't last," Maury Goosenberg told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "Now there's no one left alive for me to say 'See? I told you so.'"

The couple met when they were teenagers and married a few years later, in September 1935, after Helen convinced Maury they should elope, the newspaper reported.

They eloped in Philadelphia but kept their marriage a secret, afraid of how their families would react.

"We weren't taking any chances," Helen told KNSD. When they later revealed their secret, "his family wasn't too happy with me and mine wasn't too happy with him."

Representatives from Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the faith-based marriage enrichment group that searched for the longest married couple in America, honored the Goosenbergs with acknowledgments from the U.S. House of Representatives, the White House and the California Governor's Office, Patch.com reported.

The two were nominated for the distinction by their great granddaughter, who was on hand for the celebration Valentine's Day, according to the website.

The pair couldn't say what it was that made their marriage so special.

"I don't think there's a secret" to staying together, Helen told KNSD. "Keep your sense of humor. It's very important. And just, go along. Get as much pleasure out of the relationship as you can and just hope that it will continue and that you will be happy with its continuance. That's all I can tell you.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter received more than 250 nominations for the longest married couple from October 2015 to January.

"What an inspiration Mr. and Mrs. Goosenberg are to all of us," said Joe and Sue Talarico, the U.S. ecclesial team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, in a statement. "They made a commitment to each other 80 years ago and they have kept that commitment. They truly are an inspiration and sign of hope to all of us."

This year marked the group's sixth year searching for the longest married couple. In 2015, the organization honored Dale and Alice Rockey of Olathe, Kansas, as the longest married couple with 81 years together.