Love Lessons From Long-lasting Long Island Couples

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Clockwise from top left: Ann Marie and Pat Scarola, Frederick and Shirley Hughes, Regina and Dr. Jeff Finkelstein, Patricia and Al Centamore, Laura and William McLean, Thomas and Felicia Staub.

Think healthy, happy, everlasting love is an impossible dream? For these Long Island sweethearts, love has been in the air for decades and grows stronger every day. Through many a marriage milestone, these couples discovered how to make their marriages something to celebrate for a lifetime.

Thomas and Felicia Staub, of Levittown, were married April 13, 1975, five years after their first date. The Staubs say their different faiths did not initially earn them blessings by their families but their love for one another prevailed. With two children and three grandchildren, the Staubs advise always making your love a priority.

“Put each other first,” they agree. “Never go to bed angry.” To “keep the fires lit,” the Staubs have renewed their vows twice and gone on three honeymoons, says Felicia Staub.

Pat and Ann Marie Scarola, of East Northport, were married May 30, 1971. They have three children and six grandchildren. The couple attribute their successful relationship to being able to communicate with honesty and sensitivity.

Years ago, they attended a “marriage encounter,” a sort of couple’s retreat, which encouraged them to put their feelings on paper and then share them without judgement.

“We have notebooks filled with love letters,” says Pat Scarola.

It hasn’t always been easy, though.

“Some marriages are like a merry-go-round; ours was a roller coaster, but it’s been an amazing ride,” he says. “We’re probably happier today than at any other time in our marriage. We enjoy being with one another.”

Dr. Jeff and Regina Finkelstein, of Baldwin, were married September 9, 1984. They have two children. The couple owe their healthy, happy marriage to mutual respect and unwavering love.

“You chose each other to go through this crazy journey we call ‘life’,” says Regina Finkelstein. “Make an effort to treat that person with respect and understanding. Do the day-to-day stuff with a smile. Celebrate the good times!”

Al and Patricia Centamore, of Deer Park (father- and mother-in-law of the author), were married June 15, 1968. They started “going steady” when they were teenagers.

“We were very much in love,” the couple recall.

They credit their long-lasting relationship to supportive families, good friends and a strong foundation of love. While family has always been the chief focus, keeping romance alive has also remained a priority. The Centamores, who recently renewed their vows, pride themselves on their compassionate and supportive nature toward one another.

“When you have fun together, it helps you get through everything else,” says Patricia Centamore. Regarding parenting, she says, “You naturally take on different roles. It’s very important for both parents to present as united with the kids.”

William and Laura McLean, of Huntington Station, were married October 19, 1975.

“We met out in Montauk,” says Laura McClean. “He was camping, and I was staying at the Wavecrest next door.”

He was 18 and she was 17.

“It was love at first sight,” she says.

They have three sons and four grandchildren. By the time they had children, five years after they were married, their bond was super strong, with friendship, hope, common family values, and of course, love that allowed them to celebrate good times and persevere through the toughest.

“There is such a great sense of gratitude” she says. “We feel blessed.”

Frederick and Shirley Hughes, of East Northport, were married November 25, 1951.

Best friends forever, the pair boast six children, 15 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and two more on the way!

“We do everything together,” says Shirley Hughes. “We go out to dinner, shop, go to casinos and see plays in Northport…he still brings me flowers,” she adds.

“We never forget the special times — the honeymoon,” says Frederick Hughes. They have always avoided “heated arguments,” he adds. “We hug and kiss, forgive and forget.”

All these couples share the sentiment that a good marriage does not mean a perfect marriage. Marriage takes work. Treasure each experience as an adventure you share together, they advise.

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