Marriage Milestones 2

From Newlyweds to Golden Anniversaries

When we think of weddings we often limit our thoughts to white gowns, tuxedos, flowers and dancing. Though it is a celebration, a wedding represents something beyond a single event. When the images of cakes and candlelight fade and all of the guests have returned to their homes, the one thing that remains is the unconditional love that exists between the couple. Indeed, “I do” is one of the most impactful phrases a person could ever say.

As humans we want to be loved and cared for; we want to feel heard and know that we’ve been understood. For many, marriage is a significant milestone in their lives. It’s the celebration of love that leaves a mark, not just on our calendars, but on our hearts as well. Two West Chester and Liberty Township couples have reached significant milestones in their lifetime journeys of love. Though their walks to the alter happened 50 years apart, their love stories are similar. From newlyweds to golden anniversaries and beyond, there is plenty to celebrate.

For Diane and Tom Jackson, it was apparent at their recent 50-year wedding anniversary that they have achieved a life of love and commitment to each other, but their love story began a little differently when the pair first met as children on the school bus.

“He used to sit behind me and pull my pigtails and tease me,” Diane laughs.

While it wasn’t love at first site on the yellow bus, the couple eventually began dating in high school; Diane was 15 and Tom was 17. The Jacksons truly have grown up together.

“I had just graduated from high school and we went out on a date, and Tom said ‘I want to ask you now, before you go away to college, if you’ll marry me.’ He knew that if I went away to college we wouldn’t get married. That was on my eighteenth birthday,” Diane recalls.

It was then that Diane altered her plans to be with the man she loved and began a career in data processing, which is what brought them from Indiana to West Chester. After five and a half years of dating, the Jacksons wed in 1966.

“He’s my best friend. We laugh and have fun together,” Diane says. “The thought of not having him, I can’t imagine it. He’s always been so supportive; he’s never put me down.”

For their 50th anniversary, the Jacksons were surprised with a party planned by their children and grandchildren. Guests traveled from across the country to honor and celebrate the Jacksons and their love.

“People drove in from Florida, Illinois and all over to come. It was one of the best times we’ve ever had,” Diane says.

Despite the typical challenges that come with any relationship, Diane and Tom have found their happily ever after, and often share sentiments and advice on marriage with their grandchildren in hopes that they can help them find a similar love.

“Marry somebody who is your best friend,” Diane says. “We’ve both learned that it’s getting through the hard times that make you get closer. We’ve always supported each other and our relationship has been equal. We work together. My granddaughters always say that they want to marry someone like Pappy because they see that we might get upset with one another, but then we’re still hugging on each other. They see that we still have fun.”

Nearly 42 years after Diane and Tom married, another young couple’s journey was just starting. For Melanie and Zach Reber, that journey began in the halls of Lakota East High School in 2008; she was 15 and he was 16. They bonded over their shared interest of musical theatre and choir. The couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary this past August 1.

“We bought a house right around our first anniversary,” Melanie says, reflecting on why they opted for a low-key anniversary celebration. “We had a quiet night with dinner and a movie.”

The transition into married life was easy for the pair, who have been together for eight years.

“Not everything is about yourself, so you have to learn to put the other person before yourself and compromise,” Melanie says. “Giving the other person space when they need it,” Zach adds in agreement.

As the couple has experienced life together from a young age, it’s their love for one another that makes both of the Rebers excited about the future. Both say that they are looking forward to traveling the world and, one day, becoming parents. For now, they are still enjoying the perks of being newlyweds.

“The clean house is good. Laundry is good,” Zach jokes. “It’s just nice to be married to someone who you get along with. Someone who you can really have a good time with.”

“He’s my best friend so it’s awesome to be able to come home and hang out with him every day,” Melanie says. “Plus, he’s a great cook.”

Both couples began as friends and demonstrate what it means to find true love. Where one journey begins, another continues, and the couples agree that in good times and in bad, marriage is about growth, support and love. Congratulations to Melanie and Zach Reber and Diane and Tom Jackson on your anniversary milestones.