Is It Time?

You deserve a safe and thriving marriage

By Norris Burkes
January 2021

I’m lucky that my wife, Becky, still laughs at the preposterous proposal I made to another woman 42 years ago.

I begin by explaining how, early in our marriage, we routinely substituted Brand X for the real name of any previous relationship. The nickname came from commercials that promised a certain laundry soap was new and improved and would produce sparkly clean results—far superior to Brand X.

This story is about my Brand X. On a beautiful fall day, I proposed to X as my Baylor roommate, Roger Williams, chauffeured X and me to the university on my way back from dental surgery.

Yes, you’ve all seen the hilarious videos portraying someone struggling through the fading effects of anesthesia. Mine was one of those moments. I’d just had my wisdom teeth removed and believed myself still wise enough for love.

According to Roger, I began regaling Brand X with my exciting future. Apparently, I promised X that I would graduate with honors, go to seminary and become “America’s favorite chaplain.”

But first, I’d need a wife.

Somewhere on the route between First Baptist Church and Whataburger, I blurted my what-the-heck question.

“X, will you marry me?”

Apparently, according to Roger, I gushed while she blushed.

Then, Brand X said, “Yes!”

I do remember Roger interrupting us several times to say, “We need to get him back to the dorm room.”

The next morning, X awakened me with a phone call. Still groggy, I understood her to say she was shopping for a wedding dress. Worse yet, her mother was plotting how to transfer us both out of “liberal Baylor” and into a local bible college.

The call came to a standstill when my “fiancé” told me her mom had found a dermatologist who could provide me a blemish-free wedding day.

“Let me get back to you,” I told her.

As I hung up, I noticed Roger tapping an impatient foot to the floor. He’d understood the gist of the conversation.

“You’ve got to stop this thing Norris,” he said. “If you marry this girl, her mother will be running your life.” He encouraged me to reverse the train and tell X that contracts made under the influence are null and void. No, he wasn’t a prelaw major, but it seemed right.

So that’s what I told X. Remarkedly, she mostly understood. Within the month, our yearlong relationship came to an end.

Gratefully, I can fondly retell this story as a fairly typical college romance. Sadly, this quarantine makes me especially aware that not everyone is as fortunate with their past or current relationships.

Perhaps you (or someone you know) is living in an atypical relationship where your spouse barrages you with daily insults or mind games. Worse yet, you’re being physically, as well as emotionally, abused.

If that’s true, I hope you’ll seek counsel from friends, like Roger, who God placed in your life. If they advise you to get out, it may be time to listen.

Remember, you are child of God and you deserve a marriage that is safe and thriving. If that doesn’t describe your marriage, then it’s not a marriage. It just might be abuse.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great resource for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Call (800) 799-7233 or visit

Norris Burkes can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento. Burkes is available for public speaking at civic organizations, places of worship, veterans groups and more. For details and fees, visit

Stay up-to-date with our always 100% local newsletter!

* indicates required
Type of Newsletter
Share via
Copy link