Reaching a marriage milestone

by Todd Brooks

It was 25 years ago when I was the recipient of the most lopsided deal since the Dallas Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings. Tuesday was Sarah and mine’s silver wedding anniversary.

It definitely wasn’t a love-at-first-sight scenario back in the 1990s. We were in the same wedding party and don’t remember meeting each other. My childhood best friend and Sarah’s older sister got married.

They lived in Florida and I was living in Alabama at the time. I was two years out of college and working. Sarah had just graduated high school, so I don’t think it ever occurred to either of us that our future spouse was in the same wedding party.

Four years later, I decided to move to Florida and I stayed with my friend and his wife while I looked for a place on my own. Sarah was getting close to finishing her senior year in college on the other side of the state and came home for the weekend for her birthday.

Since I was still living with my friend and his wife, they invited me along and it was there I first took notice of her before she went back to college for her final month.

Meanwhile, my hosts had been trying to get me to go out on a night on the town with them and having been the third wheel too many times with my friend in years past, I refused to go unless they found me a date.

Realizing Sarah would soon be back home, they set us up on a double date with them.

“She’ll be able to talk sports with you better than I can,” my friend said.

That was an important factor to me. As a sportswriter, I knew my wife would have to be someone who at least tolerated sports.

Sportswriting is not a 9 to 5 job. Attending sporting events requires a lot of evening and weekend work and I needed a wife who could understand that.

We enjoyed each other’s company on the double date, so the next week we went out by ourselves. It would turn out to be the first of many.

By the end of the first month of dating we both knew we were meant for each other. The only thing holding me back from popping the question at that point was we didn’t want to be accused of getting engaged too soon.

I waited a couple of more months before deciding it had been long enough. I wasn’t that nervous about asking her to marry me because I knew with almost 100 percent certainty what her answer was going to be, but asking her father permission to marry her was what made me the most nervous because I didn’t know what he was going to say.

I got his blessing though, and I proposed in the restaurant where we had our first solo date.

Then came the issue of finding a date for the wedding. Valentine’s Day just so happened to be on a Saturday the following year, but we didn’t feel like it was our style so we waited until Feb. 21.

Plus, I can buy her discounted Valentine’s Day candy for our anniversary.

And the past 25 years has been quite an adventure. I lost my job a week after the honeymoon when the newspaper I worked for closed down.

A month later, I get a phone call about a sports editor job in Arkansas, so even though neither one of us had ever been to Arkansas or had ever been west of the Mississippi River for that matter, we loaded up and moved.
That began our slow move westward as I followed job opportunities across the state before getting out of the newspaper business and going into ministry including two years of seminary. We made our way to Oklahoma when I got a job pastoring a church.

Along the way, we had four children of our own and adopted another. It’s been a wild and crazy ride with many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.

According to the statistics I found online, the average length of marriage before divorce in the United States is eight years and only 35 percent of married couples make it to their 25th anniversary.

So while it may not seem to be a long time a generation or two ago, it’s a good milestone to obtain in today’s society. Good Lord willing, we’ll make it another 25.