The Dart: Couple reflects on wisdoms from 26 years of marriage

Published 12:28 am Monday, December 26, 2016

By Lyndy Berryhill

The Natchez Democrat

VIDALIA — Vidalia resident Ronnie Martin said dating commercials that prescribe the path for a long, happy marriage have it all wrong.

Email newsletter signup

When The Dart landed on Palm Street in Vidalia, he and his wife of 26 years, Sylvia Martin, were getting ready to have dinner with their classic car club, River City Bad Boyz.

“Have you seen this commercial about, where the guys says, ‘Nobody comes up to you in the grocery store?’” Ronnie asks looking at wife. “Well, I was manager of the grocery store and she came in one day and bought one item, and when I saw her I thought, ‘My Lord, what a good-looking woman.’”

Although his future bride bought one small item, he checked her out, bagged it and walked her to the parking lot. They stood by her car and talked for two hours.

They were both divorced and had been single for several years.

“They just loved him to death,” Sylvia said about when she introduced Ronnie to her children.

They dated for five years before marrying in a simple ceremony.

Sylvia said she grew up when people did not “make a big deal” about remarriage. She said it was a different time, and divorce was a taboo subject.

When they did decide to take the plunge, the Martins did not have a large wedding party. In fact, they barely had one at all.

Sylvia managed to get the waiting period for obtaining a marriage license waived. Ronnie came home from work around 9 p.m. that night. They drove to their preacher’s house and woke him up. The pastor’s mother and wife served as witnesses.

“That’s how we did it,” Ronnie said. “Spur of the moment.”

After more than a quarter century of marriage, the couple said the only regret they have about getting married was not having their children present. The children were not upset, but surprised.

“You always put the kids first,” Sylvia said.

The children all had known each other for years and attended school together, so they were used to the idea of their parents getting married in the future, Sylvia said.

Ronnie said the only perfect world he knows of is the fictional neighborhood of Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. He said they remain a large, happy family.

Collectively, the couple has raised seven children to adulthood. Now retired, they visit with their 15 grandchildren. Their newest is 4 months old.

Sylvia said she still looks back on their marriage with amazement when she thinks of how many meals she cooked and how many loads of laundry she folded. They also stayed extremely involved in their children’s extracurricular activities.

“I had empty nest so bad,” said Sylvia when the children had all moved away for college.

The couple still finishes each other’s thoughts.

“We got to be really good friends, and then we got married,” Ronnie started.

“That’s important,” Sylvia said, regardless of what TV commercials may suggest.