After 43 years of marriage, this viral TikTok couple proves love only gets better with time

In honor of Valentine’s Day and their wedding anniversary, Rita and Theo Smith reveal how the spark in their relationship withstands the test of time.

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TikTok couple Rita and Theo Smith celebrate 43 years of marriage this Valentine's Day. (Photos courtesy of Rita Smith)

Rita Smith, 62, also known as “Auntie Riri” on TikTok, is not shy about proclaiming her love for her husband Theodore “Theo” Smith, 64. Over the past year, Rita has gone viral on TikTok for unapologetically sharing how she and her husband maintain the spark in their decades-long relationship. 

The Smiths’ love story began when they were teenagers. Living in the same neighborhood on the same street, Rita, who was almost 15 at the time, recalled how Theo, who was 17, pursued her.

“He was seeking me out, and finally, he asked for my number. I gave it to him, and he called me the next day [because] he said he was trying to play hard [to get],” Rita told theGrio. “Ever since then, we’ve been together.” 

Celebrating 43 years of marriage this Valentine’s Day, it was only recently that Rita found out exactly what made her husband choose her out of all the other girls in the neighborhood so many years ago. 

“It was just that confidence you had about yourself,” Theo revealed to her in a TikTok video. “This girl, I just had to have her. She knew where she was going and what she wanted; that’s what kept me pursuing her.” 

From that day forward, the rest was history. Dating throughout high school, the couple admits their journey was not always smooth sailing. Despite the little breakups here and there, Rita explained how the two always found their way back to each other — which she believes was largely because of how much Theo wanted to be with her. In addition to their love for one another, Theo explained how communication was the secret to overcoming any growing pains in their relationship. Rita wholeheartedly agreed.

“​​People always ask that question, and I always tell them [it was] my faith, my faith in God first. That goes without saying because I’m [a] person, I pray about everything. I don’t care how small or how large,” she said, also highlighting the importance of listening and staying tuned into one’s partner. “You have to learn who you [are] married to, so you won’t keep making the same mistakes.” 

Having met as teenagers and marrying as young adults at 19 and 21 years old, respectively, Rita and Theo’s still-evolving relationship has taught them that commitment requires being there through the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. Whether praying through some of life’s inevitable obstacles or occasional marital challenges, the couple’s faith has been a driving force in their relationship. 

“Love is long-suffering and no strings attached when you know that you’re not the best wife ever, but you’re learning to be the best wife ever. And you’re praying and striving to be the best wife,” Rita explained. “In our marriage, I would tell him, ‘I’m struggling.’ I know how to be a mom, but to be a wife…oh my God, I needed a lot of prayers.” 

“I will say, learning to forgive one another [is important.] Realizing that we’re human, we’re not perfect. She’s not perfect so we just have to forgive one another and move on,” Theo added. “You got to invest in your marriage; whatever you put into it, that’s what you’re gonna get out of it. And it’s gonna take the both of you pulling together. The Bible tells us you are no longer two, but you’re one … how can two walk together unless they are in agreement? So, you both got to be participants.” 

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Today, after 43 years of marriage and raising three children to adulthood, Rita and Theo’s love for each other continues to shine brightly — now for a faithful audience on TikTok. Just as the couple’s chemistry radiates through their uplifting and inspiring content, their continued infatuation with each other glowed when talking to theGrio via Zoom. Looking every bit the close-knit pair in color-coordinated outfits, the couple shared their thoughts on the stereotype of marriages losing their spark over time. 

“First of all, I have a fine, sexy husband; that’s first and foremost,” Rita said confidently before giving couples a piece of advice. “Look at what you have, pay attention to what you have, and make things happen in your marriage. If you feel like your marriage is getting dim, then start roleplaying. You don’t allow your marriage to grow stale.” 

“It is so beautiful because now we are empty nesters. So, with that being said, [we] can walk around the house the way [we] want, talk the way [we] want. And I like to roleplay to keep it spicy,” she continued, mentioning how she loves rocking a nice lingerie set around the house and going on spontaneous dates. “And let me tell you, it’s never a dull day,” she said with a smile. 

Rita’s decision to give the public a lens into her relationship via social media was largely inspired by her daughter, who stressed how many women could benefit from hearing about her marriage and her journey. Now with over 340,000 followers, Auntie Riri and “[her] man” have gone viral for videos showcasing their love and giving sage advice. Receiving an influx of messages from users seeking guidance, the couple explained how people always ask how they find the time for romance, to which Theo shared an analogy. 

“It’s like an investment. You go to the bank; you make a deposit. If you don’t put anything in it, you’re not gonna get anything out of it. So it’s like you’re investing in your marriage. You got to do things to keep that spark, to keep that romance,” he said. “You gotta cultivate it like you’re a gardener…Continue to do things, the same things that got you the woman [because] it’s not over with. Most men think once I capture this fine woman, I got her, but you have to continue to do those things to make her happy, to pamper her, to make her feel relaxed and stress-free as much as you can because women go through a lot of stress. So you got to continue to do things to enhance that relationship, and it’s gonna take both of you working together.”

Ultimately encouraging all couples to pray, communicate and encourage and respect each other, Rita and Theo’s ongoing love story is a testament that love can not only be greater later but also more passionate.

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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