This article is the 35th in a series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, “Young adults want to know that it’s possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.” It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
Judy Brittain, according to her husband Bob, frequently complained Bob didn’t love her. Bob insisted he did and warned her that “she just better not say that ever again.” When she said it again, he marched into the kitchen with his shotgun and fired off a round in the air. Judy is quick to add that it was a blank.
From the beginning, Bob and Judy have fought for and through their marriage. Both promised each other they would never give up, or say “go home to momma.” With that determination, their marriage has lasted 50 years. Bob has served as a pastor with Judy faithfully alongside him, and Bob’s willingness to share colorful stories from his own wilder days has allowed him to connect with youth and young adults as they see God’s grace illustrated.
Bob tells the story of their first date as often as he can: “I had been in the Navy, I was singing in nightclubs out in California. Dated a lot of girls, all this stuff. Our first date, we went bowling, and she beat me. Then we went and parked up by the water tank up by the hill, and we started smooching and all that.”
Bob kept trying to carry it further. Judy refused. After a while Bob got upset, and told her, “I am used to dating women and not little girls.” Judy replied, “Just take this little girl home.”
Bob took her home, and that ended their dating for several weeks. But Bob saw potential in Judy, impressed that she had just won the Betty Crocker homemaking award. Judy adds that he also noticed her “long legs, because he wanted his sons to be tall.” They have raised three tall sons—the oldest a state police officer, the other two pastors—who are raising godly children of their own.
Judy told me about one moment when she began to find security in their marriage, by openly admitting her insecurities to Bob. Driving home from a dinner put on by Bob’s company, Judy told him, “When I go into a room full of people like that, I feel like I am wearing sandwich boards that say ‘I am the only person in this room who doesn’t have a college education.’”
Bob replied simply, “I am so proud of you.” The deep mutual trust and confidence they’ve developed assures them that when either goes through difficulty the other will be loving and supportive.