TRUE LOVE: America’s Longest Married Couple Celebrate 81st Anniversary, Reveals Secret To Their Marriage (PHOTOS)

As America’s longest married couple prepare to celebrate their 81st wedding anniversary, 102-year-old husband John Betar and 98-year-old Ann have revealed the secret behind their incredible relationship.

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The pair eloped in Harrison, N.Y. in 1932, fleeing their close-knit Syrian neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“[We] had no choice but to elope because my father was set on me marrying a much older man, and I was 17. John was not the boy next door, but the boy across the street who I loved,” Ann, 98, told Reuters.

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John, 102, said the quickie nuptials caused quite a stir among their families.

“Everyone was hopping mad, and my wife’s aunt consoled my father-in-law by telling him not to worry, the marriage won’t last,” he said.

How wrong they were. The Betars have been together for decades and have five children (two are now deceased), 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

“We have watched the world change together,” John said. “The key is to always agree with your wife.”

“Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive each other. Live accordingly,” he said.

“We are very fortunate,” Ann Betar added. “It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing.”

Through good times and bad, their love never went away.

The Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian “marriage enrichment program,” bestowed the unofficial title “longest married couple in the United States” on the happy couple in February. They were chosen after a review of several nominations submitted from across the country.

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The young bride and groom actually had to flee their tight-knit Connecticut neighborhood because her father wanted her to wed another man.

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