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‘Having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life’’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

MYRA AND ARCHIE ARRINGTON

Live: Pleasant Grove 

Married: July 30, 1989

Met: Myra and Archie crossed paths inside the UAB Hospital cafeteria in January 1989. “I was working at Children’s Hospital and he was working at UAB,” Myra remembered. She met Archie when he was having lunch with one of her cousins inside the hospital cafe. When she got home, her cousin called to play matchmaker. “As soon as I walked through the door my phone rang and it was my cousin calling me and I said ‘what, that dude want to meet me’ and she said ‘yeah, he sent his number.’” 

Archie said, “I was taken by her. She had some of the most beautiful eyes so I couldn’t help but look into her eyes. I could tell she was looking at me also, but I didn‘t want to be too forward [in the moment]… and since I was working with her cousin, I knew I’d get to talk to [Myra] later.” 

First date: A few weeks and a couple dozen phone conversations later, the pair went out to a golf place on the south side of Birmingham. “He wore some golf pants and golf shoes and a shirt, and I said to myself ‘uh-uh, he is gonna have to dress better than this’,” Myra said at the time to herself. 

Archie remembered Myra wearing a jean dress and it “fitted her quite well,” he said, “and I was doing more looking and paying attention to her than the game…that’s when I noticed she was competitive. She really wanted to win, but I still won,” Archie said. “It was a nice first date, but I knew it wouldn’t be our last… I also had that feeling inside that this one might be the person for me.”

The proposal: Archie remembers it this way: “She asked me to marry her. We had gone out on a date and we came back to her mother’s house and we were sitting in the living room talking on the couch and the conversation was going pretty good, then all of a sudden she said ‘well, when are you gonna marry me?’ And, so, I perceived that as she asked me to marry her,” he laughed.

Myra said that was not a proposal, “I asked him a question,” she said. 

“We started talking about it [marriage], our careers and things that we wanted to do, and at the time we had made the decision that we were dating each other and that there wasn’t anyone else was in the picture…,” Myra said. “I did ask him IF he wanted to get married, but he decided that he wanted to. I let him get away with that [his story] because it [their marriage] lasted.”

After their “joint decision” to marry, their families planned everything and the two were married six months after meeting.

The wedding: The wedding was at Old Saint Paul Baptist Church in Bessemer. The colors were peach and cream. Most memorable for Myra “was when my [late] brother John Lee came downstairs to me while I was getting ready and said ‘Burk — that’s what he called me — they love you out there…the church is full.’ That meant a lot because we didn’t actually send out wedding invitations, we were only going to have a reception, but people came out anyway…the church could hold about 300 hundred people and it was full,” she said.  

Most memorable for Archie “was seeing her come down to the aisle to the song ‘Love Like This’ by Phil and Brenda Nicholas. As I watched her walk down the aisle … for some reason, my leg started shaking very, very profusely. I wasn’t nervous, but for some reason, that happened. Both of us will never forget that.”

Words of wisdom:  After being married for 31 years (in July), the Arrington’s have learned that forgiveness, and trust in God sustains a marriage. “First thing I learned is to do [in marriage] is forgive,” Myra said. “The second thing I learned is that just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have issues or things that happen in your marriage that may disappoint you, but as long as you got God in your life, and you trust God and hear from God…I’ve learned to listen to him [God] when concerning my husband. I’ve learned to ask for forgiveness for the things that I do as well, and that hollering and throwing things is a sign of immaturity,” Myra said.

Archie said put your spouse first and make sure their needs, desires, dreams and wants are first in your relationship. He also said a “better me makes a better us and sometimes sacrificing yourself and growing to a point where you’re building that person up and making sure that they know your love for them is first place in the relationship.” 

The Arringtons still date, Myra said. “We communicate well with each other…

“And having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life,” Archie said.

Happily ever after: The Arringtons have two children, Velencia, 30, which includes their “son in love” [her husband] Alfonso and their two children, Taliyah 10, and Jacoby 7. They also have a 20-year-old son, Jonathan.  

Myra, 56, is a Bessemer native and a Shades Valley High School grad. She works as a Loss Prevention Specialist for a local bank. Archie, 56, is a West End native, and a Woodlawn High School grad. He is a patrol lieutenant with Bessemer City Police Department.