Valentine’s Day: Two couples share their stories

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Falling in love releases a chemical in the brain that causes a sense of euphoria. That’s science, according to Harvard University. Staying married, it turns out, can’t be as easily explained.          

For Valentine’s day, two couples briefly shared their stories of falling in love, making marriage work and celebrating Feb. 14, a holiday national retailers expect to bring in $25.8 billion, according to Forbes.

Very few of those dollars will come from Louisiana or these couples. The state was ranked as one of the least romantic, based in part on Valentine’s Day consumer spending.    

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“Keithon bought me a rotary tiller,” said Sherry Perkins. “He said he wasn’t getting me any candy because I’m on a diet and flowers are a waste of money.” With the tiller she can grow her own. The DeQuincy couple have been together 52 years through serious illness and loss. Valentine’s Day gifts did not make the struggles any more or less difficult.

“He’ll probably take me to Taco Bell for our anniversary in March,” Sherry said. “He’s like that, a big spender.”

They had their first date the summer before she turned 17. She was naive about what went on in the bedroom after a couple were married. That’s the way her mother wanted it, and that’s the way it remained for the both of them until their wedding night, Sherry said.

They dated four years. In Keithon, she saw a man who treated his mother with love and respect, and that’s what she wanted. She had not seen a lot of that growing up.

“The thing that attracted me to him was his smile, his beautiful teeth,” she said.      

She remembered the day he came to her workplace after all his teeth were pulled. Two months later, he came home with his new dentures. When she met him at the door, he smiled.

“I saw that 17-year-old boy I fell in love with and still love today,” she said.

Theirs sounds like a sappy love story, but they tell it with humor that outdoes any one-liners used by big-time comedians.

When Keithon and Sherry got  married, Keithon’s mother told him, ‘Son everyone can run. Not everybody can stand. Always stand,’’ Sherry said. They never argued in front of the children. They never disrespected one another in public. Her illnesses, including a cancer diagnosis at 24 meant he took on many of the parenting tasks.

“I have the highest regard for him, and it’s only grown through the years,” she said.

Keithon’s hearing loss has presented a challenge to communicating lately.     

“So far we’ve bought a $19.95 hearing aid and a $200 pair. I don’t think a more expensive pair will help because his hearing was affected by a loud blast and noisy machinery at work. But Keithon wanted to find out, so he asked to borrow one from a man sitting next to him in church who had one in both ears. He wouldn’t give Keithon one, and the ruckus did not go unnoticed.      

At this point in their lives, those two almost read each other’s minds. However, in the beginning of a relationship and for problem-solving, good communication is crucial to understanding a partner’s needs, according to family and marriage counselors and Tony Broussard.

The Broussards don’t go for Valentine’s Day hype

Tony and Sheila Broussard don’t exchange gifts on Feb. 14. They do that for Christmas in December. Their son’s birthday is in January. He gets a gift. On Feb. 22 they will celebrate 39 years of matrimony, and they might go out to dinner, Tony said.

“Sheila is a Fort Worth girl and that’s where we met, “ Broussard said. He was living in Lake Charles at the time. The couple live in Sulphur now.

“When we met, we never had a real one-on-one,” he said. They got to know each other through long distance phone calls.

“You’ve got to have a connection to begin with,” he said.   (Keithon Perkins called it “a spark.”)    

If there is a connection, the next decision might eventually become committing to the relationship, Tony said that not just one  person can commit. It takes two.

“Through communicating, you build trust with a person with whom you can share your deepest darkest secrets and know that person’s got your back,” he said. “But it’s more than being best friends. You can be best friends but if you don’t have that intimacy whether it’s sexual or not. You have to have that one-on-one.”     

He talked about the number of couples he knows who have gotten divorced.

“People don’t understand our relationship, Tony said. Heck, I don’t understand it. I don’t understand Sheila half the time.   

He’s the square bob. She squiggles, he said,, perfectly describing their differences with a combination of building terms, graphic arts lingo and characters from a popular cartoon.  We balance each other, he said.

“You have to have everything for a marriage to work,” was his final pronouncement on the topic.   

In Saturday’s Faith and Family story, read about a Sweet Lake couple who let only one thing come between them, and how prayer brought them together.