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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

What’s your secret?

Jan 30, 2018 12:23AM ● By Melanie Wiseman

When it comes to their 14-year marriage, Dave and Karen Jensen don’t sweat the small stuff. Their faith and thirst for outdoor adventure are just some of the “secrets” to a lasting and fulfilling relationship.

Terry and Ruth Leever were married on Valentine’s Day 48 years ago. Ruth said they chose February 14 as their wedding date because it was romantic and fun. Terry claimed they wed on Valentine’s Day so he would never forget their anniversary.

The couple met on a blind date and has now spent a lifetime together. So what’s their secret?

“There’s no magic formula to happy relationships,” said Terry. “Trust your inner voice for knowing when the right person comes along, and always respect each other.”

Ruth said sharing the same values and having a positive outlook on the relationship is important.

“I believe couples should always have a goal that you’re working toward together,” she said.

I married my best friend 18 years ago. Dan and I met at church, but we really connected through bike riding with friends.

At 42, it was my first marriage and my first time living with a man since I moved out of my parents’ house. I love living with Dan, but I’ve discovered a few helpful tips that help keep our marriage healthy and happy—they include earplugs, a Tempur-Pedic mattress and Google Maps.

Dan has some advice of his own.

“Share household duties and chores, not necessarily keeping with traditional roles. But men,” he warned, “stay away from the laundry.”

Relationships aren’t about how much love you have for each other at the beginning, but how much you build until the end. These happy couples shared their advice for making love last:

Dave and Karen Jensen

Perhaps it was divine intervention that brought Dave and Karen Jensen together. They first met at church when Dave was happily married and Karen was blissfully single.

Karen moved to Boston to pursue her master’s degree while Dave found himself single and raising two kids after losing his wife to cancer. Upon completing school, Karen relocated to Boulder, and Dave received a spiritual nudge to reach out to her. They dated long distance for six months before Dave proposed and Karen moved back to Grand Junction.

At 46, it was Karen’s first marriage, and they’ve been married for 14 years.

He said: “Praying and sharing outdoor exercise adventures together enhances our closeness. Not sweating the small stuff, making the most of each precious day while encouraging each other’s God-given gifts, serving others and growing in our faith together.”

She said: “Our shared faith gives us a common bond and solid foundation in riding out the storms and sharing the joys of life together. Marrying a widower is not easy. I was given wise advice—never try to fill her shoes, but respect her memory.”

Ralph and Wilma Baumbach

Ralph and Wilma Baumbach met in 1948 while traveling on a college choir bus tour. They stayed up talking one night and have held hands through their 68-year marriage.

At 92 and 87, they appreciate how lucky they are to still have one another.

He said: “Fall in love every day. Trust, care and share.”

She said: “In times of misunderstanding, always listen when one says, ‘But this is how I feel.’”




Bob and Sharon Vogel

Bob and Sharon Vogel’s love story stretches back to their college years in Minneapolis. Though they attended different schools, they both caught a ride home with a mutual friend one day. They fell for each other, and have been married 57 years.

He said: “Honesty and compromise. Listen to your spouse and understand her feelings.”

She said: “Through rough times and good times, our faith has kept us strong on our journey together.”




Bob and Shirley Jess

Shirley Jess worked at Campus Drug on North Avenue when she met her husband, Bob, who worked at a neighboring drugstore. The Jesses have spent 52 years of married life traveling and visiting family.

Though they’re retired, they work two days a week at the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “It’s not about me, it’s about us. In pre-marriage counseling years ago, I’ll never forget being told the percent you give and take is not 50 percent. Both have to give 60 percent.”

She said: “Sharing so many common interests like food, friends and social outings.”


Mike and Barb Oliver

Mike and Barb Oliver met on a double date in Pittsburg, Kansas. Barb’s date asked her if she could find a date for his friend, Mike, and the two young couples spent the evening at the drive-in—but it was Mike and Barb who hit it off.

In their 55 years of marriage, they’ve shared many experiences and special moments, from traveling to volunteering.

He said: “Love, forgiveness [and] don’t argue. We’ve become more like best friends as we’ve gotten older.”

She said: “A happy relationship is give and take. Put their needs before yours. We may not always like each other, but we always love each other.”



Dennis and Mary Eichinger

Sparks flew for Dennis and Mary Eichinger from their first online connection.

When they met on, she lived in Denver while he lived nearly five hours away in Pagosa Springs. They dated long distance and compromised on moving to Grand Junction so they could spend the rest of their lives together. They’ve been married 11 years.

He said: “Acceptance, forgiveness and a lot of laughing.”

She said: “Separate bathrooms are absolutely the key! I keep a saying on my mirror by Peter Ustinov as a reminder: ‘Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.’”

Fred and Gania Brown

Fred and Gania Brown will celebrate 40 years of marriage in July. They never knew each other in college, even though they shared the same friends, because Gania had transferred to University of Colorado just as Fred was starting Western State College (WSC) in Gunnison. After graduation, Gania moved to Montrose to start a job with Montrose Memorial Hospital. Fred was also in Montrose, finishing up his student teaching. When a mutual friend from WSC came to visit Gania, they invited Fred over for dinner and it was love at first sight. They met in March and married just four months later.

He said: “The one thing that has been integral in our marriage is our faith. We both have a very strong faith in God, which has been the strength that has allowed us to grow together and encourage each other to be all we can be. We’re both pretty connected with that.”

She said: “I made the decision to focus on the things I really admire about Fred. If you focus on the things that make you crazy, you’re going to be miserable. I realized that my children would eventually leave and my influence on them was only going to be for a number of years. The person it affects the most is Fred, and it’s my responsibility to encourage him to be the best person he can be.”

Doug and Maureen Beyer

Doug and Maureen Beyer met on a blind date—an unusual one at that. Doug was actually set up with Maureen’s roommate, but fate intervened and Maureen went on the date instead.

They’ve spent 41 married years traveling, reading and playing pickleball.

He said: “A wonderful sense of humor and being game for adventure.” She said: “Teamwork and talking things over are the first things that come to mind after running a business together, living together and raising a special needs child.”




In good times and in bad

How do happy couples keep their love alive? Make note of these relationship musts:

  • Expect your relationship to change. The crazy infatuation of a new romance develops into a deeper, richer relationship, which should still include romance. Expecting relationships to always be sunny and easy is unrealistic.
  • Invest time, energy and effort into your relationship. Good relationships need to be tended to on a regular basis and will be worth the investment.
  • Don’t take your partner for granted. Treating your spouse with respect earns respect in return. Express your appreciation for the things your partner does every day to strengthen your relationship.
  • Celebrate your differences. You and your partner may express affection differently. Discover what love looks like to your partner and be sensitive to those needs.
  • Acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake to resolve problems and build trust in your relationship.
  • Listen to each other openly and without judgment.
  • Forgive. Holding grudges leads to unhappiness.
  • Laugh. Challenges are easier to overcome when you keep your sense of humor.
  • Be loyal and honest. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Settle disagreements peacefully. Heated arguments are a waste of time, as not much is worth fighting about. Calm down, then discuss.