Recent research has shown that marriage among black people has had a significant drop in percentages. In 1960, 61 percent of blacks were married, compared to only 32 percent in 2008, according to an organization called the Wedding Bliss Foundation.
The foundation hosted an event called 'Black Marriage Day,' in hopes of encouraging marriage and offering tools to build stronger families.
Among the participants at the service was Dr. Eddie Lane from the Institute for Black Family Renewal who said, "What we must understand is you can't change homes without changing men".
FOX 26 News had the opportunity to meet couples who, unlike the majority of people today, are in long-term marriages.
One couple, Gerald and Myrna Irons, told FOX 26, "We were high school sweethearts back in Gary, Indiana and we've been married to each other for 41 wonderful years. You know what the key is? Not only do we love each other, we like each other. He respects me and I love him and we believe in that doctrine. It means a lot."
Nathaniel and Alice Lewis, who have been married for 27 years, shared valuable insight to their relationship:
"We grew up together in our marriage and we've learned so many different things. We've made mistakes along the way but through God's grace, we've gotten adequate training and we keep God first. One thing we've learned is to keep love and respect in our marriage. There are some things you can't do and some things you can't say to your spouse. So, if we keep the underlying theme of love for my husband and respect for me, there are certain things that won't even occur in the marriage. One of the biggest things is to really understand what forgiveness is because they're your best friend but they're going to make mistakes. So, you have to know how to really forgive."
When asked about her thoughts on the subject, marriage and family therapist Dr. Nicole Cross replied, "I do believe in marriage. I do have hope that the institution of marriage can survive and live on despite the statistics. I believe that if you are empowered and encouraged to make your marriage successful then you absolutely can. We just celebrate all of those who are choosing to be married."
Many of the couples present at the event have been successfully married for decades and offered a piece of advice for others -- they say the key to a strong marriage is to laugh a lot and to have a spouse who is also your best friend.
The Wedded Bliss Foundation plans to celebrate 'Black Marriage Day' annually and has decided to host the events on the fourth Sunday in March.