Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Allan and Leah Tidwell were honored at the Extraordinary Marriage Awards ceremony. The couple, who have been married 70 years, advise showing love to spouse and children and being on time for meals.

Utah "Marriage Week" will be Feb. 7-14 and a jump-starter for the event, Extraordinary Marriage Awards, was Friday afternoon in the Salt Palace Convention Center, honoring 17 Utah couples.

Utah Lt. Gov. Gary R. Herbert said dysfunctional families in Utah have a negative impact of $127 million annually, according to a Utah State University study.

"Divorce can be prevented," he said of most instances. "Marriage is an important institution."

"It takes a lot of grit and dedication," Herbert's longtime wife Jeanette, said of marriage. "It's hard work, but it's worth it."

The couples honored with 2008 Extraordinary Marriage Awards include:

Longest Married Couples:

• Allan and Leah Tidwell of Utah County have been married more than 70 years. Their advice for a happy marriage includes showing love to spouse and children, being considerate of each other's opinions and being on time for meals.

"She's a very thoughtful person and likes to share in all things," Allan said of his wife.

They met in California, working at A&T Root Beer at age 18 and married in 1937. They wanted to honeymoon to Niagara Falls but couldn't afford it. They went to Idaho's Shoshone Falls instead, which, unfortunately, had no water when they arrived.

• Charles and Agatha Mannering of Washington County have been married almost 69 years. They believe the words "love" and "yes, dear" are keys to a long marriage.

Gold Medal Marriage Award recipients:

• Ryan and Jennifer Cain, Washington County.

• Soren and Fern Cox, Utah County.

• Hank and Dawn Crosland, Millard County.

• Merrill and Fay Hampton, Sevier County.

• Phil and Joan Jones, Utah County.

• Todd and Cheryl McFarland, Carbon County.

• Jared and Amy Nelson, Cache County.

• Max and Melba Nelson, Utah County.

• Jerry and Carol Pollock, Garfield County.

• Lamar ("Joe") and Nedra Stewart, Sanpete County.

• Mark and Gertrude Tripp, Tooele County.

• Steven and Joyce Turner, Davis County.

Valorous Military Marriages:

• Lynn and Linda Higgins. Utah County.

• Lamar and Ethel LeFevre, Garfield County.

• Dale and Julie Rigby, Washington County.

The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with a training seminar for counselors and family life educators. It was sponsored by Utah Department of Workforce Services.

For more information on Marriage Week, go to: