At 16 years old, Mitch Belew and Robin Wright were in love.
They got married the same year as the high school prom by forging their birth certificates.
It was a Saturday on May 27, 1978 when they changed the dates on their birth certificates. The clerk in Jellico noticed the modifications, prompting the young couple straight to Williamsburg, Ky., were they were married.
It was a difficult road after the spontaneous decision to take their nuptials. They moved to Sidney, Ohio and lived off macaroni and cheese and love. Belew walked to the local grocery store where he worked. The following May the Belews had a baby boy.
It was a mutual decision to end the marriage after a year and a half. But Belew said there was a lot of pressure from their parents to separate.
After the two went their separate ways, they stayed in contact through their son. Their sole priority was to create a good life for him, which is why Belew continued his education. He received a BS degree in 1993 and a Masters in 1997.
“I am so very proud of him,” said Wright during a phone interview on Tuesday. “I am proud of all he’s accomplished and the man he’s become.”
It has been 33 years since the couple was first married, time they will never be able to completely recover. But after all these years, their love is still strong. Currently living in Nashville, they have decided to get remarried this month.
“I feel like we are already married,” said Wright. “When we’re together it feels like we were never really apart.”
Thanksgiving of 2009, Belew and Wright found themselves both divorced from second marriages. They spent the holiday together with their son and their relationship was rekindled.
“We pretend to choose a partner, but I think there is more to it than that,” said Belew. “The saying goes that if you want to make God laugh, then choose a partner.”
They both grew up in the old coal camp of Pruden and share the Appalachian culture. Belew remembers the first time he met Wright. Driving through the snow to have dinner with her family. It was Wright’s father that showed Belew a picture of the stunning young girl and invited him to dinner. Belew recalled immediately falling in love with her.
After that dinner, the two were inseparable. It felt like the right decision to get married.
But Belew said neither sets of parents wanted them to.
“Neither of us could cook or do anything,” said Belew.
Getting a divorce was a heartbreaking decision for the young couple.
“You always have regrets, but if we hadn’t lived these lives we would not appreciate each other as much,” said Wright.
Better late than never is another saying that rings true for Belew and Wright. They followed paths in different directions only to end up back together.
“Everyday that goes by I realize we are catching up on the years we missed,” said Belew.
For the past two years, Belew and Wright have been together ringing in each new year side by side.
“We hope to spend many more New Years Eve’s together as we grow old together and take care of each other for the remainder of our lives,” said Belew. “One thing we both agree on and have learned from our mistakes is that God will always be the center of our lives and we are very thankful to have another chance to be with our best friend…each other.”