By Stephen Witt
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is a whole other piece of wedding cake.Just ask some of the some 100 Brooklyn couples married 50 years and over who renewed their vows in Borough President Marty Markowitz’s annual Valentine’s Day celebration at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.“We fight all the time. The making up is good too and we never go to bed angry,” said Sylvia Mariamoff, who has been married for 63 years to her husband, Milton.The Sheepshead Bay couple met in 1942 on a blind date arranged through Sylvia’s sister and her mother-in-law who at the time lived as a tenant in her sister’s Coney Island building.“I was 18 at the time. I didn’t go for blind dates, but I answered the door and we were married in three months,” recalled Sylvia.“I was attracted to him. He was very tall and suave with a thin, pencil mustache and a zoot suit. We had a ‘football’ wedding, which was salami and bologna sandwiches, and a juke box to dance. The whole thing cost $90,” she added.The Mariamoffs, who have two children, four grandchildren and are expecting their fifth great grandchild any day, travel the world, visit museums and work together at the Harbor View Assisted Living Center.Sylvia, 83, and Milton, 86, also continue to dance together – usually the jitterbug or the tango.“The main thing in life is attitude. If the attitude is good, you’re ahead,” she said.Leila and Zacharia Bloomfield of Bensonhurst, who have been married 54 years, also met on a blind date.“I met him when I was 17 and he was 20. We went out a year and a half before he proposed and then it took another year and a half until we got married,” said Leila.Leila said the secret to their marriage is loving each other and being able to forgive each other after disagreements.“We kiss each other before going to sleep, even though we had our differences during the day. Just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there isn’t fire in the heart,” she said.Leila also said she is an old-fashioned girl and her advice to other young women is not to jump into bed right away.Zacharia said he tells his wife he loves her every morning day so he keeps out of trouble.“She was a doll when I met her. She has a beautiful face and it hasn’t changed. Her eyes sparkle and she’s still beautiful,” he said.Anthony and Mary Platania, who live in Park Slope and have been married 56 years, first met during a dance social the YMCA on Third and Atlantic Avenue.“She hit my eye and I started dancing with her, and we started dating on weekends and have been together ever since,” recalled Anthony. “I believe it was love at first sight, but I couldn’t admit it to myself at first. She was very attractive.”Anthony said the secret to their long marriage is understanding each other and being able to mull over any discrepancies.Mary Platania said her husband is just as good looking as the day she met him, but also laughingly said her eyes aren’t as good as they once were.“The secret to a long marriage is to let a lot of things go by and we all learn – a husband learns and a wife learns,” she said.Music is what brought Prospect Heights couple Sophie and Shellman Johnson together.The Shellmans have been married 53 years.Shellman is currently the organist at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 2805 Newkirk Avenue, and Sophie is minister of music and organist at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 3714 Avenue D.Both churches are in East Flatbush.The couple have known each other since junior high school in Baltimore when both shared an interest in music.“The secret to our marriage is mutual respect and developing commonalities,” said Sophie. “There’s plenty of differences and an abiding love through respect and friendship of each other’s gifts and abilities.”Sophie said another secret is that both she and her husband are “lifelong learners” who enjoy going out together, and both love to write at local coffeehouses.“My advice to young married couples is to hold on to what is good and difficulties can pass if both parties are willing to work through them,” Sophie said.“Hopefully, we grow with age if we stay young in mind. It’s wonderful to be part of that unfolding with another person,” she added.