The Casket Dropped–Profile of a True Marriage


by Harriet Hairston

Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi were neither black, nor did they have kids, but their marriage exemplifies just about everything a loving relationship should entail. Upon hearing of Mr. Swayze’s death, so many stories arose about his life and accomplishments. Most of the time, you find that a person is just as inept in their personal lives as they are successful in their professional endeavors. Yet in the case of Mr. Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi, I found that they had their cake and were able to eat it, too…all the way until his casket dropped.

They had:

Longevity: They met when she was 16 years old and a dance student of his mother’s. They were married three years later on June 12, 1975. My own parents were married on July 5, 1975, so I wasn’t even thought of then!

Friendship: He stated that “we were friends for a long time before we became lovers. We even lived and slept togther for a year before we had sex. That wasn’t easy.” I’m sure it wasn’t, but after 34 years of marriage, it was worth it.

Survival: After two miscarriages didn’t tear them apart, Patrick Swayze’s addiction to drugs and alcohol tried to. But with tough love and a resolve to make their marriage work, they fought through it, and in the end, they both won over severe grief and strain.

Humor: Patrick Swayze stated that “I like being married. I’m sort of like a loyal sheepdog, sometimes to a fault.” Loyalty, humor and enjoying one another’s company is definitely a plus!

Partnership: They raised horses together, ran a music business and wildlife preserve together. All of the above, on top of their music and dance careers were quite successful.

Vision: They realized that when one of them lost, they both lost; yet when one of them won, both of them were rewarded for the hard work and dedication. Swayze said of his wife, “She’s a huge inspiration. She never lost the vision, and I did.”

I could go on and on. After reading about their marriage, my heart breaks for Ms. Niemi and her huge loss. I pray for her ability to mourn in a healthy manner and be able to move on in due time. The love she shared with her husband truly exemplified “For better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sickness and health; till death do you part.”

The casket for Patrick Swayze dropped, but the love he and his wife shared will live on eternally.

BMWK, after reading about their marriage, what kinds of lessons about marriage can you glean from it? Have you ever had to deal with some of the tragedy that the Swayzes had to endure? If so, how did you respond/react? If not, what do you think you will do should issues like that arise (God forbid)? Finally, what was your favorite Patrick Swayze movie?

God bless!

~ Harriet

Harriet Hairston, a freelance writer, human resources administrator at an HBCU and creator of the motivational blog, “Can She SAY That?!?” has a unique style that brings readers into her life through her transparent demeanor. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and two sons. You can reach her at


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