Articles by Stephanie Dolan and Nancy Price
While it’s easy to be swept away in a relationship and get married, long-lasting love requires patience, honesty, communication and respect.
Love means keeping the romance alive – making and keeping regular date nights. Putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Talking through disagreements before issues become fights. Three Southside couples discuss how they keep their marriages intact, share advice for other couples and how to keep a marriage fun and exciting.
One couple has been married just short of two years, while two other couples have been married about 50 years. These couples share their perspectives – as newlyweds and as those celebrating their golden anniversaries.
Happy Valentine’s Day from The Southside Times!
Bob and Sharon Wilson
True love never dies, and – in fact – grows stronger with age. Through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns and occasional pitfalls, love is still there, holding us up and carrying us forward.
Some couples exemplify this truth – you know the ones … they look like they’ve been together forever (and usually have). They finish each other’s sentences, they’re familiar with the other’s flaws, loving all the stronger for them.
Couples like Bob and Sharon Wilson of Greenwood who each find the same traits in their partner very appealing: faith, honesty, dependability and caring for others.
Bob, 73, and Sharon, 74, met in 1968 when they were 23 and 24 and working together at Eli Lilly.
After dating for six months, the Bob and Sharon each knew they’d found the one.
“I was attracted to Bob’s winning smile and friendly personality,” Sharon said. “He was intelligent and cute.”
“I thought Sharon had a great personality,” Bob said. “She was always smiling, intelligent and courteous.”
The couple’s most memorable date occurred about three months into their courtship as they shared a romantic dinner at a restaurant. The orchestra began playing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” which immediately became the couple’s song.
Bob and Sharon were married Nov. 7, 1970 at Bargersville Christian Church.
“We have been married for 48 years,” Sharon said. “And we’re looking forward to getting to 50! The best things about being married to each other is mutual respect, understanding, love, friendship, partnership in sharing of faith and responsibilities. It helps to try to have a positive attitude about life.”
During their nearly 50 years together, the couple have had two children and five grandchildren.
“Interesting thing about both our daughter, Amber, and son, Brian, is that Bob is a pharmacist and we tried encouraging both of them to attend pharmacy school,” Sharon said. “Neither of them did but they both married pharmacists! We have always found this to be funny!”
Bob and Sharon both have been retired since 2000, and their relationship has only grown stronger.
And, after all these years, has it become expected that the couple would simply phone in Valentine’s Day? Not these two.
“We will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a nice dinner,” Sharon said. “We always get each other a Valentines Day card.”
Bob also always gets Sharon a big heart shaped box of Russell Stover chocolates and sometimes flowers.
“Sharon does love her chocolate candy!” Bob said. “She would be very disappointed not to receive her chocolate candy!”
Karen and Dennis Parrish
Just up the road in Perry Township, Karen, 70, and Dennis Parrish, 72, are also setting a good example for young couples with their love and longevity.
They met when they were 16 and 18 at a mutual friend’s party. Each of them was on a date with someone else.
“I, like most people at the age, was in the ‘raging hormone stage,’” Karen said. “I was attracted to his thick, dark, wavy hair, bright blue eyes and 6-foot-2-inch frame. Then, it was the fact that he made me laugh. Some of his material was plagiarized, but I still laughed.
“I also recognized he was a good, moral person with a kind heart. The combo sucked me in, and I was hooked. Nobody could measure up to Dennis. I dated a few people when he went to Vietnam (per his insistence), but he was always in the back of my mind. When he came home, I knew I wouldn’t let him go!”
“I thought she was beautiful, and I still do,” Dennis said. “I knew right away she was special. I had told her I always thought we would be together. I also loved her sense of humor; she loves sarcasm and sometimes without even cracking a smile, just puts it out there.”
The couple’s most memorable date happened early on, the night before Dennis left for Vietnam.
“I was so afraid he wouldn’t come back,” Karen said. “I thought that maybe it was the last time I’d ever see him. I can still picture him leaving, and I remember he said, ‘one year from tonight, we have a date, baby.’” He ended up coming home five months later after being wounded.”
Karen and Dennis were married Aug. 10, 1968 in Greenwood. They have four daughters, one of whom is deceased, and 11 grandchildren.
“All bring us much joy,” they said.
And, not taking each other for granted, they both still recognize the characteristics in each other that they love so much.
“Dennis is a very kind, generous person,” Karen said. “He always puts others first. I truly admire him.”
“I love Karen’s sense of humor,” Dennis said. “She’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. I also know that Karen keeps me healthy and watches out for me.”
When Valentine’s Day rolls around, sometimes the couple will hit the road for a short getaway. But typically, they keep it low key and simple.
“With Thai food and snuggling!” Karen said.
Anna and Tanner Bair
Anna and Tanner Bair still remember their first date as though it were yesterday. It was on April 29, 2008. They went to the movie theater to see Get Smart and picked seats in the very back row – while their parents sat in the front row.
Anna and Tanner had their first date in seventh grade.
“We were middle school sweethearts,” Anna explained. “Our parents would take us to movies, and we’d hang out at each other’s house.”
The Bairs knew of each other in fifth grade and became friends in sixth grade when Anna and her family moved into a farmhouse across the road from Tanner’s neighborhood.
“Every day when we rode the school bus, I’d tell him to give me his gum,” Anna recalled.
By the time they were about 13 or 14, Anna said, they knew they would most likely get married some day and told other people of their intentions.
“She told people that,” Tanner said, teasing Anna.
At some point during their freshman year, the couple split up for a while, however, “we were best friends the whole time,” Anna said.
The couple, who live in Franklin Township, were engaged by 2015 and got married on April 29, 2017 – exactly nine years after their first date. Anna had a fascination with old movie theaters, started doing research on which one they would choose as their wedding venue and decided on a theater in Terre Haute, which was built in the 1920s. After choosing the theater, Anna thought it would be fun to have a 1920s theme as well. The men wore bow ties and suspenders, while the bridesmaids and flower girls wore headpieces similar to the era. Everything – down to the decorations, centerpieces, the guest book and seating chart – was “art deco inspired,” Anna said.
Anna and Tanner admitted to doing a lot of homework to prepare for a marriage they wanted to last.
“Before we got engaged, we had a sit-down talk and said, ‘it’s going to be us and it’s going to be us,’” she said. “We learned a lot from my sister and her husband. After high school we lived with them for three years and learned so much from them, relationship-wise. They’re very responsible with their money. We learned how to talk about finances.”
“It’s easy to fight about money if you’re not careful,” Tanner added.
Although the couple have work schedules that often conflict – he works at an elementary school and she works at Sophia’s Bridal, Tux & Prom – they make sure their quality time together is special. They adopted a tradition to go out to brunch together. Self-described “foodies” and “homebodies”, they also enjoy cooking dinner and watching movies and TV shows on Netflix.
“Our life revolves around when we’re going to eat next,” Anna said.
Tanner is the cook in the household and likes to make chili, although he tries new recipes nearly every week. Anna never tires of his homemade alfredo sauce, though. “It is incredible,” she said.
When disagreements happen, “we really don’t fight,” Anna said.
“We don’t argue; we try to solve that problem before we get in an argument,” Tanner added. “We’re proactive.”
“We talk about things right then and there. All of our friends say, ‘you never fight.’ There’s really nothing to fight about if you just talk,” Anna said.
While Anna admitted that she and Tanner don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, “we celebrate (the day) all year and not just one day.”