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Bob & Susan Butler share what’s made their near 60-year marriage successful


By Brianna Stephens
Advocate Associate Editor

After 58 years of marriage, Susan and Bob Butler said they are grateful for the experiences they have had that have strengthened their relationship.

The two went to high school together in their native town of Madisonville. Susan was a member of the band while Bob was an athlete.

While they walked the same halls, Susan said the two were a few years apart and didn’t get to know each other well until after they graduated when she invited him to be her date to a cotillion dance.

They started seeing each other more and spent time together swinging on a porch swing, taking walks and spending time at the football field.
The two were together while they attended college, Susan at Peabody College in Nashville and Bob at the University of Kentucky, and married after a year and a half of their relationship.

“It was short, but we knew we were made for each other,” Susan said.
Susan came back to Kentucky while Bob pursued his athletic career at UK and continued on to play professional football.

Two years later, they started their family. They now have three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

They came to Mt. Sterling around 30 years ago because of a job opportunity Bob had with State Farm. They have also lived in Owensboro and Elizabethtown for 12 and 15 years, respectively. During their marriage and in the cities they’ve lived in, the Butlers have had the chance to be involved in several experiences that have strengthened their marriage.

They were part of a marriage enrichment program for several years through the Methodist church. While they started the program as attendees, they eventually became leaders of the program and traveled around the country for around five years to lead other couples through it.
They were also part of the “Walk to Emmaus” through the church, which is another experience that helped them connect with others across the state to learn more about the keys to marriage.

“We are very fortunate the good Lord has exposed us to a lot of people we have learned from,” Bob said.

Susan said one of her biggest takeaways from their lessons was discovering the importance of expressing her feelings, while Bob said he learned how to better treat his wife and that actions speak louder than words.

Susan’s mother lived with the Butlers for 11 years, as she had dementia. During that time, Bob said Susan would always tell her she loved her, but her actions supported that.

“It’s one thing for a person to say ‘I love you’ and it’s another thing to show that you love them,” he said.

He added recently he has considered the definition of love more, and has further leaned into its meaning through his actions.

“Love is when you care enough about somebody to try to bring out or to encourage the best in them,” Bob said.

In marriage, there isn’t room for selfishness, Susan added, as it’s important to think about the other person and their happiness.
“That’s how we’ve gotten through these 58 years, and I’m looking forward to 58 more,” Bob said.

Although they have faced challenges over the years like any other couple, Susan said she and her husband have worked hard on their marriage and look forward to celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary in November and several more years of marriage.