Couple still going strong after 75 years of marriage

theGRIO REPORT - They have received a proclamation from their mayor and a congratulatory letter from President Obama...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

GEORGIA – An African-American couple is celebrating an extraordinary milestone in their marriage.

Ralph and Tillie Lee Pullin have been husband and wife for an incredible 75 years.

They tied the knot in 1938 after two years of dating. Despite inevitable ups and downs, their union is still going strong.

Now the couple’s long-lasting devotion to each other is generating unexpected attention. They have received a proclamation from their mayor and a congratulatory letter from President Obama.

“I am so excited, I am telling you,” said Mrs. Pullin in an interview with local television station.

Mr. Ralph Pullin, Sr, of McDonough, Georgia, said in the same interview that it was a strong attraction at first sight.

“She had to sit on part of my knee!  And that got my attention like– a live wire,” he said.

Though, their courtship was not without challenges. For two years, the pair kept their relationship secret from Mrs. Pullin’s mother instead telling her that Mr. Pullin was dating his wife’s older sister.

The lovebirds finally wed on September 17, 1938. The pair – one of the longest-living married couples in Georgia — went on to to have 8 children. They have 6 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild, with another on the way.

“I was making 99 cents a day and had a wife and in 11 months we had a child,” said Mr. Pullin.

When asked what is the secret of their successful marriage a tearful Mr. Pullin said they would not have gotten to this point without the grace of God.

“Our marriage was like the ocean,” said Mr. Pullin.  “I’m not trying to say big words, but you know how the ocean waves go up and down?  At the bottom, God was there.  And every time we hit bottom, God pushed us back up.”

“It’s great for couples to see this type of longevity and know that it can be done, especially in this day and age when nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce,” said Lamar Tyler, co-creator of the award-winning site

Referring to Mr. Pullin’s statement that God helped his marriage, Mr. Tyler told theGrio that “a lot of couples we talk to, who have overcome challenges, often credit some type of faith in helping them sustain their marriage.”

Deborah Mills, a mentor, author, CEO and co-founder of relationship site DeborahJerome LLC, has been married for 26 years. She said one of the keys to a successful marriage is effective verbal and non-verbal communication and working towards a joint goal when things get tough.

“Marriage is not a quick fix,” said Mills. “It’s a long journey. In our society everyone is looking for a quick turnaround. We’re used to instant gratification. We expect things to happen quickly and when they don’t we move onto the next thing or what’s pleasing to the eye.”

“We reckon our marriage to a roller coaster. There are steep climbs and then you free fall, when you go downhill really quickly. But our philosophy is to throw our hand up and we’re in this together,” she adds.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti