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Busy couple offers their look at marriage

February 10, 2000
Web posted at: 12:46 p.m. EST (1746 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of America's busiest and best-known media couples, who often sleep apart in different cities or even on different continents, has discovered vital ingredients for success in modern, strained marriages -- "tradition, family, ritual."

These themes run strongly through a book about marriages, "From This Day Forward," by Steve and Cokie Roberts. Not by chance, the book's official publication date is Monday, Valentine's Day.

Ritual is important even when there are two sets of traditions in a family, the Roberts said in a recent interview on CNN's Larry King Live. She's Catholic, and he's Jewish. They raised their children attending mass and services at synagogues as well as observing other traditions of both faiths.

Cokie Roberts is co-anchor of ABC's political news and review program, "This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts." She also analyzes Washington politics for listeners of National Public Radio. With her husband, she writes syndicated columns for The New York Daily News, and both contribute to USA Weekend.

Cokie "became famous and made more money than I did," Steve said cheerfully, recommending the arrangement for other husbands. A former correspondent for The New York Times, Steve is a media professor at George Washington University in Washington and makes regular appearances on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Married for a third of a century, the Roberts conceded their marriage is far from perfect. Nonetheless, solid communication has long been a mainstay.

Of the 12,000 plus days since their wedding, "I think maybe only six of those days we haven't talked to each other," said Steve. "We always knew this was the most important priority, and everything was secondary."

Also, the Roberts said they have been fortunate in role models. "We've both had parents with very long-standing and wonderful marriages," he said.

"We got married very young at a very turbulent time," Steve added. "1966 was not a very great time to great married. (There were a) lot of changes that we lived through. I think we were fortunate."

Of their long marriage, Cokie added, "We worked very hard at it."

She also said it helped that before he began to love her, Steve fell in love with her mother.

Amid laughter, Steve recounted the night when Cokie's mother heard his coughing in the night and entered the bedroom in her house where he was a guest trying to sleep.

"In walks my future mother-in-law, dressed in this flowing peach negligee," he said. "Now, I have never seen -- "

Cokie interrupted: "He's always hoped I would have one. I never have."

Steve continued: "This (garment) was quite a revelation. And my future mother-in-law says to me, 'Darling, you sound terrible, drink this.' And hands me a drink, which I am sure is about three-quarters bourbon. She didn't really have to say 'Open wide,' because my mouth was already -- you know. What is this vision that has walked in? Well, it's true, I did fall in love with my mother-in-law first. I got around to Cokie later."

While about half the book concerns the Roberts' marriage, "From This Day Forward," published by William Morrow, also examines the strengths and weaknesses in the marriages of other people in other times.

"There's a view in this country that everybody's going through what they're going through for the first time," Cokie said. "But a lot of these things, particularly that young women feel that they're going through today, have been gone through before."

Review: "We Are Our Mothers' Daughters" by Cokie Roberts
May 22, 1998

Inside NPR -- Cokie Roberts
Steve Roberts biography

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