Al Roker and Deborah Roberts might work for rival networks— he's the weatherman on NBC's Today show, while she's a seasoned reporter for ABC News — but off the set, they're partners. The two have been open about the ups and downs of their two-decade marriage, and the life lessons they've learned around the way.
Roker and Roberts met in 1990, when Roberts joined NBC as a general-assignment reporter. Soon after she arrived, Roker took her to lunch. "Al was so sweet," Roberts told People. "He showed me pictures of his daughter and talked about his family." But, she adds, "I just thought he was a nice guy, and that was that." They kept in touch for two years while Roberts was transferred to Miami, and then Atlanta. But in 1992, she was back in New York as a correspondent for Dateline NBC, and by then, Roker and his then-wife, Alice, had split up.
Though Roberts didn't see Roker as anything but a friend at first, he romanced her over the next few years, even surprising her with flowers and a fridge full of food after she came home from reporting at the Olympics in Barcelona. On New Year's Day in 1994, Roker proposed on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
The two were married on September 16, 1995, at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York, and had a reception at Essex House. Guests included Barbara Walters, Rudy Giuliani, and Katie Couric.
And suddenly, Roberts was a stepmother to Roker's daughter, Courtney. "There were times when we were the dueling girls," Roberts toldPeople in 1999. "Sometimes I was feeling, 'Why is Courtney getting her way? I want my way.' And Courtney was doing the same thing. It's not a piece of cake, but it's a lot better than it was. Courtney and I have both matured."
The same year she and Roker were married, Roberts moved to ABC News as a correspondent for 20/20. Today, she reports for 20/20 along with Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline, according to her ABC biography.
Roker and Roberts had their first child, Leila Ruth, in 1998, after fertility issues led them to opt for in vitro fertilization. "At 9:17 a.m. on Tuesday, November 17, 1998, I heard the most wonderful sound: the cries of our newborn daughter, Leila Ruth Roker," Roker wrote in Guideposts magazine. "A nurse held her up for Deborah to see. My wife started to cry, and so did I. I held my new daughter and looked into her eyes. Is this how Mom and Dad felt when they held me? I wondered."
But the joy of bringing a new baby into the world led to a career sacrifice for Roberts. "When we had Leila, it became a difficult point in our marriage because I was already working mornings, and ABC came to her and said, 'We'd like you to do the newsperson's job on Good Morning America,'" Roker said on the Today show. Even though it was her dream job, Roberts ended up not taking it and instead focused on caring for her newborn. "Deborah decided to step back. Her career suffered some for it. You always feel guilty about that," Roker added.
"I will admit that deep down in my heart of hearts I have felt at times that I have sacrificed more but I think also he's also listened to me, too, and tried to feel a little bit of my pain," Roberts said in the same Today broadcast.
In 2002, Roker had gastric bypass surgery, which led him to lose 160 pounds. He said that his weight had become an issue in their marriage, because Roberts is an athletic person who was disappointed that her husband wasn't making healthy choices. "She was upset about it, she was frustrated, she was angry," Roker wrote for Today.com, noting they had a "mixed-weight marriage." "She thought, 'Why don't you care enough about yourself and why don't you care about me and our relationship enough to change?' And I said, 'Look, it's not about you. It's about me.'" Eventually Roker joined Roberts on runs, and ended up running the New York City Marathon.
The same year Roker had his surgery, he and Roberts welcomed their son, Nick, who has special needs. Roker has spoken out and honored Nick's longtime occupational therapist, Lori Rothman, on the Today show. "When you're parents and there's something not right with your child, sometimes you can almost freeze, because it's so overwhelming," Roker said. "And to have somebody who's not only amazing for your child and to your child, but is an advocate for your child, is a godsend."
Nowadays, the couple lives on the Upper East Side of New York City; Leila is now 19, Nick is 15, and Courtney is 30. They have credited couple's therapy for keeping their marriage strong, especially as they blended their families.
Roker and Roberts are often referred to as an "odd couple" because their backgrounds — and opinions on most things — are very different. USA Today notes Roberts is from Georgia, where she went to a segregated school until the fourth grade, while Roker grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. In a New York Times article about their Sunday routine, they mention the importance of going to their Episcopal church every Sunday morning. "I was raised Southern Baptist, Al was raised Catholic. We met in the middle," Roberts told the newspaper.
In 2016, Roker and Roberts opened up about their life together in a book, Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom for Modern Times. The couple talked about what they agree — and disagree — on, and how they make their marriage work. "We don't like the same foods, we don't really like a lot of the same music, we don't like a lot of the same theater events, Roberts told Good Morning America. "But we love each other very much and we have a deep and abiding respect and feeling for family. I think that's what grounds us."
In 2017, the two celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary. Roberts posted a sweet throwback photo to their wedding day. "Where did the time go?" she wrote on Instagram. "Feeling blessed to call [Roker] my life partner."