By Kathleen Swift • Photos by Mandy Edmonson

When reflecting on 30 years of marriage, Kathy Norris says the secret to a happy marriage is really no secret at all. “The secret is finding someone who shares lots of interests with you, who respects your differences and who appreciates your individuality.”

Mark Norris agrees with his wife. “If the love is true, and you treat each other with mutual respect and understanding, then the bumps you encounter along the way will be lessened and the years will fly by effortlessly. It’s been easy for me because I found the perfect partner.”

“We enjoy activities like going to art shows and concerts, spending time with friends and family, the occasional trip to an area casino, participating in community events and, probably, watching too much television – especially Cardinals baseball,” says Kathy. “We each have our preferences when it comes to art, music and shows, but for the most part, we like similar things.”

Mark and Kathy first met when they shared a table and drinks at Joplin’s advertising club. After 30 years of marriage, the couple still loves going to a favorite restaurant or art exhibit or concert together. But part of their life is also enjoying each other’s company as they watch tv or enjoy a meal together at home.

It’s the little things they love about each other that make their love continue to grow. When Kathy and Mark first met, Kathy thought Mark was kind and funny. She says, “What I love the most about Mark is his deep-down caring nature, his witty sense of humor, his incredible talent as a graphic artist, his absolute love of music, and his impeccable organizational skills. I also love that he lets me be me and fully accepts me pursuing my own interests, such as organizations or clubs I belong to.”

“What I love most about Kathy is her compassion for others,” says Mark. “I see it all the time. She’ll read or hear about someone going through a rough time and reach out to them. She is always willing to lend support whether she knows them or not. Her kindness and loving spirit are unwavering. If you are a friend of hers, you know it and can expect handwritten notes, phone calls and texts. Her love is unconditional and full. She is very smart but doesn’t flaunt it, aside from an occasional game of Words with Friends. Believe me, I am well aware that I married above my station and am thankful every day that she loves me. She is simply the best person I know and is probably unaware of how much she has influenced the way I think about things and people. What’s not to love?”

The love story for Mark and Kathy continues. Mark reflects, “As our lives change and we get older, we face new challenges and experiences that bring us closer in different ways. Being married and working together for so long, when people think of me, they think of Kathy, and even though we have maintained our own identities, we are thought of as one…and I like that.”

“We are creating a life tapestry of shared moments to look back on as well as to look forward to,” says Kathy. “Most of our experiences are happy ones, some are sad and some are tragic. But they all weave together to create the life we share. Knowing we have each other to depend on and to get through this life together means more to me than anything.”


See more photos in the February 2022 print edition.