On life and love: Westfield couple talks marriage and relationship tips for Valentine’s Day


Above all, Tom and Kerri Dooley insist their Christian faith is the glue that binds them together. The Westfield residents were married Oct. 6, 2001, and have children together. Even after 17 years, the Dooleys realize they have something special.

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Tom and Kerri Dooley were married Oct. 6, 2001. (Submitted photo)

They met while attending Purdue University.

“We met at Purdue in class,” Tom said. “It was close to Valentine’s Day when we met because Kerri was sitting in front of me in a lecture, and she turned around and offered me some of those candy hearts, those little conversation hearts.”

Kerri, however, said doesn’t remember offering Tom the candy hearts.

“He’d been watching me,” she said, laughing.

Tom and Kerri graduated in 2000 and married shortly thereafter. After 17 years and raising five kids, Kerri said the biggest challenge she and Tom face as a couple is finding time for each other.

“I guess for us the biggest challenge is finding time for just us because we do have five kids,” Kerri said.

“And transportation,” Tom added, laughing.

The Dooleys make time for each other between their kids’ activities.

“We will even both go to our kids’ practices, and last week (we) went to our son’s basketball practice and just walked around the Pacers Athletic Center for a while,” Tom said.

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From left, Silvia, dog Ed Nelligan, Grace, Tess, Kerri, Tom, Greta and Finn Dooley. (Submitted photo)

By not being “fancy people,” Kerri said they also watch movies or spend time together after their kids go to bed.

But again, the couple credit faith for their strong bond.

“For us, it’s to be strong in our faith and have this foundation, and we can go to that whenever we have any kind of (struggle),” Kerri said.


On the lighter side, Tom has some advice for others.

“(My advice is) to laugh,” he said. “Because neither of us really take ourselves too seriously. We both like to laugh a lot and to make each other laugh, so I think that helps.”

As for Valentine’s Day, last year the Dooley kids fixed their parents dinner at home, and Kerri said she expects them to do the same this year.

“Usually, we go out and try different restaurants, but last year we started this thing where the kids love it and have a fancy dinner for us,” Kerri said. “They make the dining room really romantic and fancy. We don’t use our dining room a lot. They set out napkins.”

“They make it as fancy as they can,” Tom said. “They’ll do little place cards for everybody.”

The Dooleys still have the place cards their kids made last Valentine’s Day hanging in their home to preserve memories.

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Tom and Kerri Dooley met at Purdue University near Valentine’s Day, and Kerri offered Tom some candy hearts. (Photos by Anna Skinner)

Meet the Dooleys

Married: Oct. 6, 2001.

Kids: Grace, 13; Finn and Greta, 9; Silvia, 7 and, Tessa, 4.

Favorite restaurant in Westfield: The Rail Epicurean Market.

Church life: The Dooleys attend Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.

Favorite thing about being married:  For Kerri, it’s having the one person to go through life with. “Just having your one person, your support system – the one person you can always count on to go to,” she said.

For Tom, it’s being his best self while around Kerri.

“Just feeling like you never feel like yourself unless you’re with that person,” he said. “You always feel like your best self when you’re with that person.”

Anniversary traditions: Tom and Kerri Dooley try to take a small trip each year for their anniversary and find an antique together to place in their home. Previous antique purchases include a church pew, a buffet table and a metal stool.