INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – By all standards, Former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren have an “uncommon marriage.”
They have 9 children. They’ve had a national spotlight shined on them in good times and bad, but they’re celebrating 31 years together, and they’ve written about making love last in their new book.
“When I saw him, saw those big brown eyes, and the smile on his face, I thought well, he can come in, I can have a new friend,” said Lauren Dungy, who smiles as she recalls her first meeting with her now husband.
At first, neither Tony Dungy nor his wife Lauren, wanted to meet one other. But her Pastor insisted he thought they had a lot in common. Tony was already in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lauren was a teacher. After that first meeting, they never looked back.
“We decided we were going to get married, and we knew it was permanent,” said Tony.
They say their relationship is based on the 3 c’s. It’s Christ-centered, they communicate honestly despite their differences, and they are committed to their marriage. The Dungy’s say they are not experts, but they hope what they’ve learned about growing together and staying together in the face of adversity may help other couples. For example, they talk in their book about “arguing smartly,” and never letting a disagreement escalate to a big problem.
“We don’t always agree,” said Lauren, “I think we’re opposites, so there a lot of things that we disagree on but we handle them by sharing and listening and sometimes agreeing that we’re not going to agree on something.”
“The goal is not to prove that you’re right or the other person wrong,” said Tony, “But it’s to say what’s the best thing, even if we disagree, we have to come to a good conclusion for our family.”
A family that determined tough times would not pull them apart. Even in the face of tragedy, like when they lost their son Jamie. The couple drew close to one another, and relied heavily on their faith.
“We had to pull together,” said Tony. “So often that’s what happens, you kind of get into your own shell, so we kind of keep our focus on each other. Make sure we can help each other. And we’re always going to look to the Lord or look to our faith, to make sure we came closer together. Whether it was losing a son, losing a job, losing our parents, the things that everyone goes through.”
But the Dungy’s have gone through with the world watching. Tony says Lauren prepared their children well for life in spotlight by encouraging them to have independent interests, and to know that football is their dad’s job, it does not define who they are as people.
“We’ve had winning football games, the cameras were there,” said Lauren. “We lose a big game, everyone’s there and they want to know what happened, what went wrong. So we got used to it over the years.”
And they agree supporting one another has been key to their lasting love.
“I support him in prayer, I’m always praying for my husband,” said Lauren. “I know that there are a lot of expectations, and he has a lot on his plate, so he knows that I am going to be there because I pray for him and we pray together.”
And Tony says over time he had to learn how to support Lauren.
“(She is) Very, very, active in book clubs and running and swimming,” said Tony. “And so for me to come home and say, I’ll watch the kids for a while, we don’t need to hire a babysitter. I can watch them for an hour while you go to book club or go swimming, Now I don’t know how the house is always going to be when she gets back, but I do want her to be able to do the things that are important to her, that she enjoys.”
And always the coach, Tony said marriage should be viewed like a football season, not just a game.
“Just like a football team, you have some bad losses,” said Tony. “The year we went to the Super Bowl we lost a game 44-17. Everyone said the world is coming to an end, you can’t beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. We went back, made some adjustments and ended up being in the Super Bowl. So one loss, one bad moment (in a marriage), doesn’t mean it’s over.”
The Dungy’s will make several stops while they’re here in Indianapolis. They will be signing their new book “Uncommon Marriage” at each location:
Feb. 11, 2014
(Only for students/parents—media may attend)
100th All Pro Dad Day at Cathedral High School, Tony Dungy speaks on Uncommon Marriage
Cathedral High School
5225 East 56th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46226
Family Christian Store
4534 South Scatterfield Road, Anderson, IN 46013
Phone: (765) 649-4681
Family Christian Store
Coldwater Crossing Shopping Center
5509 Coldwater Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Phone: (260) 484-9027
Feb. 12, 2014
Sam’s Club #8135
4350 S. US Highway 41, Terre Haute, IN 47802
Phone: (812) 238-5572
nonmembers are welcome for signing
Indiana University Bookstore – B&N
Indiana Memorial Union (IMU)
900 East 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405
Phone: (812) 856-2665
The Varsity Shop at Assembly Hall
1001 East 17th Street, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 855-4848
Must have tickets for IU–Penn State game
Feb. 13, 2014
2001 East 151st Street, Carmel, IN
Phone: (317) 844-0096