Snapshot of a Marriage | Brian & Dorothy, Married 33 Years

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. Though their paths first crossed when they were just babies, it wasn’t until a local teen dance that Dorothy and Brian really connected. After a few months of dating, though, Dorothy’s mother thought the teenagers were getting too serious about each other. “My mother thought I should be seeing loads of boys,” explains Dorothy. “She thought Brian was monopolizing me.” Taking her mother’s advice, Dorothy decided to break up with Brian, but she was really quite upset about it, so she looked to her uncle, who gave her some welcome advice: “Feel with your heart. It’ll work out if you go with your heart.” A quick phone call later and the two were back together. Dorothy explains, “We really only broke up for a few hours,” and Brian interjects: “No, you broke up. I didn’t!”

Back together, the young couple spent a lot of time together. Dorothy’s family lived out in the countryside and Brian would sometimes stay over in her brother’s room. Dorothy had a trick to make sure Brian always said goodbye in the morning before he took the bus back to his house – she would take his shoes at night so he would have to find her to say goodbye!

A few years later, the two went with their hearts but were also practical about their engagement. They decided they wouldn’t get engaged until they were out of college, and that they would get only married once Brian’s probationary period at his job was over. Even when Brian asked Dorothy to marry him, she stayed grounded, replying, “I’d like to think about it.” But there wasn’t much to really think about. They were married and spent their honeymoon on a skiing holiday. (Well, one of them skied. Dorothy claims she spent most of the time skiing on her butt! Says Brian, “We enjoyed it, didn’t we?” and Dorothy replies, “One of us did!”)

Over more than three decades, Dorothy and Brian have learned what works for them as a couple. Certainly no more skiing holidays, but Dorothy says it was important for her to learn that it was okay for the two of them to be traveling on “parallel tracks, instead of on the same track;” that they didn’t have to share all of the same interests as long as they were moving forward together. The couple used their fridge as a station for messages during years when Brian was working late shifts and they saw little of each other, and found ways to stay close when his work took him outside of the country. To Brian, geography wasn’t too important, “I could live anywhere, as long as I could get her to come with me.”

Dorothy and Brian are set to watch their first daughter marry later this summer. Have they given her any advice ahead of the big day? Dorothy says, “We’ve told all the kids, whoever you’re with has to make you laugh. Does he light up your heart when you see him? Your heart has to skip.” With a loving look at Dorothy, Brian concurs, “And long may it keep skipping.”

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SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.


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