Art and Sandy Cotton, of Blanchard, have proved that they make a great team.
They have been married for almost 18 years, and they worked with each other professionally for 20 years.
“Art and I have always worked together as a team,” Sandy Cotton said.
And their ability to build a successful marriage and work relationship extended to the children each brought to the union from previous marriages. The Cottons said their four grown children's close relationships are part of why their busy family flourished over the years.
“I attribute a lot of success in our marriage to not only that we love each other and we're best friends, but our children all love each other,” Sandy Cotton said.
Art Cotton, 53, said they met in the early 1990s when they worked in the lieutenant governor's office. The late Jack Mildren held the elected post at that time. Art Cotton said he was Mildren's chief of staff, and Sandy was in charge of constituency.
Art Cotton said he was drawn to Sandy because she was a good mother to her two children and was beautiful.
“She was a really great mother — that was a key deal,” he said.
Sandy, 54, said she was initially attracted to Art because of his gregarious personality.
“I loved his personality — very outgoing, very fun,” she said. “He gets mad very seldom, and he's always in a great mood — and he's kind of cute, too.”
When the two decided to marry in September 1993, they chose to leave their jobs with the lieutenant governor's office to focus on their new marriage and blended family.
“We decided to step away from politics,” Sandy Cotton said. “That was a smart move. We had more time for our family.”
The Cottons seemed destined to work together anyway.
Art Cotton said they started their own fundraising and lobbying company, then they both ended up working at Oklahoma State University in fundraising but for different entities. The couple later worked simultaneously at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and, most recently, at Oklahoma City University.
But the Cottons are not working together professionally now.
In March, Art Cotton became senior director of development for the Oklahoma Boathouse Foundation, after several years as OCU's vice president for advancement and external relations. A month later, Sandy Cotton became director of development for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in downtown Oklahoma City after leaving her post as OCU's senior director of university advancement and development.
“We worked together for many years and now we don't, but we still feel like we're pulling together because we're working to make Oklahoma City better,” Sandy Cotton said.
The couple said they felt honored when they were chosen as one of the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative's “Most Inspiring Couples.”
Art Cotton said they feel blessed to have a successful blended family because many couples bringing children into a marriage experience difficulties.
Sandy Cotton said her advice to parents heading blended families is to emphasize the importance of being fair to all of the
“You have to forget the bloodlines,” she said.
As for marriage advice in general, the Cottons said couples should strive for good communication, respect each other and be able to apologize to each other. Sandy Cotton said if there are disagreements, recognize that there are two sides of the issue because men and women see things differently,
She said she and her husband are fortunate that the attributes that have made each of them successful in their professional lives have translated to success in their marriage.
“I'm more detailed. Art is more ‘big picture.' I'm a little more realistic. He's known as the eternal optimist,” she said.
“We recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we make a good team.”
The couple said there is one thing they don't ever want to do together: Build a house.
“We think that might be the thing to bring us over the edge,” Sandy Cotton said, smiling.