The average marriage length in the United States is currently just 8.2 years, but one Burnside couple has that beat nine times over.
Dudley and Nida Bryant are celebrating their 72nd anniversary today (October 8) and, according to Nida, have been together since elementary school. They are now 90 and 89, respectively.
"We were born and raised here [in Burnside]," she said. "We've been together all our lives."
Nida recounted how she was raised by her grandmother after her mother passed when she was just four years old. They lived near the old Burnside School and because her grandmother wouldn't let her walk to the recreation center by herself, Dudley would come to get her.
"We've been together since the 2nd grade," Nida laughed, "and he can't get rid of me."
The Bryants raised three children -- George, Roxanna (Bishop) and Bruce -- with Dudley working as a lumber inspector and foreman while Nida worked at the Seven Gables motel as well as with Pulaski County Schools. In 1978, Dudley also joined the ministry -- pastoring several Baptist churches throughout the county. The devoted couple, whose family has grown to include three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three step great-grandchildren, retired together in 1996.
After their children had gone out on their own and on into retirement, the couple loved to travel -- particularly with the Senior Friends group based at the local hospital.
"We've been to every state but four," Nida noted.
Nida cited forgiveness as the secret to a good marriage. "That's life," she said. "Nobody's perfect. We have to understand one another. Some times are better than others and some times are worse than others, but it's life and we have to take it. If we didn't have the Lord to help us, we'd never make it."
Dudley added that togetherness is another key factor, saying he couldn't make it without Nida. "We've had it hard," he said, "raising three kids and working at the lumber company. But worth every minute of it."