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Story published: 02-13-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

This Valentine's Day remember why you fell in love

By: Lacy Hilliard

Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

St. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love that dates back as far as 270 A.D. Knowledge of the actual saint for which it is derived is mostly a mystery. However, the roots of February celebrations of love lie in both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

Valentine’s Day may be the ultimate celebration of love; however, marriage is the ultimate expression of love. The act of marriage is one of the oldest human customs and predates recorded history. Each year in the United States, over two million people recite vows of eternal love and togetherness. We enter into these vows with the best of intentions, the future an unknown variable. Though unpredictable, life will most certainly provide its share of trials. With a divorce rate nearing fifty percent and the rate of marriage declining rapidly, how can a modern couple ensure that their marriage is built to last? How do you achieve the most elemental goal of marriage- longevity? Recently The Tomahawk asked two couples, one newly married and one that has stood the test of time, how to build a successful marriage.

Eddie and Nancy Bentley have been married for 38 years and they still cannot imagine life without each other. Amazingly, their chance meeting almost never happened at all. Eddie is a native of Boone, North Carolina while Nancy was raised in Johnson County. Back in the days when the REA and Blackburn’s reigned supreme in Mountain City, Eddie found himself on a different path, cruising toward Lenoir in his ‘72 AMC Javelin, in pursuit of a young lady. He made it as far as Blowing Rock when perhaps fate told him to turn around and instead head for Mountain City.

It was a typical Saturday night at the REA and American muscle cars were lined up as far as the eye could see. Eddie spotted Nancy immediately. Nancy didn’t notice Eddie quite as quickly. She was too busy chatting with another young man. Though he’d never met her, Eddie knew there was something special about Nancy. He refused to let her conversation with the competition deter him. So he waited. Just as soon as her attention waned, he made his move and they have been together ever since.

Seeing Eddie and Nancy together in present day, it’s easy to imagine their relationship during its carefree youth. The couple still laughs together like excitable teenagers and the pair can often be spotted holding hands. Though happiness abounds, they are genuine in their accounts of how the rocky road can test a marriage.

Eddie and Nancy have experienced their fair share of tragedy. Together they have lost several loved ones and have been tested in a myriad of ways. The trials they’ve faced could have broken a weaker marriage but the Bentleys agree all they have faced has only made them stronger as a couple. They feel the most important values in their marriage have been faith, love, and working together to solve every problem they’ve faced. They have always been there for each other and from the sound of it, they always will.

Carl and Savanna Dobbins were married just this past October after a little over a year of dating. The natural love that the young couple shares is apparent in their interaction and like the Bentleys, laugher is a central part of their relationship.

The Dobbins are currently faced with the common challenges of a young marriage, navigating the real estate market and learning to live together in harmony. They know that the strength of their relationship in the future will depend on its foundation and they shared several principles for which they hope to build their marriage upon.

Each Sunday, Carl and Savanna make their way to Mountain City from their home in Elizabethton in order to worship with Savanna’s family at Locust Gap Baptist Church. It was Carl that shared a principle that his pastor, Shannon Courtner, shared with him. He said, “My pastor told me that if you can find someone that loves God more than you do, you’ll be alright.” Carl said that it is his pastor’s philosophy on which he hopes to build his marriage. The couple feels that by sharing a close relationship with God, it will in turn provide a deeper bond within their marriage.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.