Today’s Featured Couple is Rick and Karen!
Every couple has valuable treasure hidden in their relationship. The Spouse Dates Featured Couple Interview is designed to “mine” some of that treasure in order to share it with you.
As you read Rick and Karen’s story I hope you find a gem, jewel or golden nugget that will be encourage and inspire you in our own marriage!
Rick and Karen have been married for 36 years and live in northeast Ohio. They have a daughter, 33, a son, 26, and a sweet granddaughter who is two. Rick is a former pastor, now a high school teacher. Karen is a private tutor and writer. They are passionate about building marriages and families and are marriage mentors in their church, do a lot of premarital counseling, and have taught many classes on marriage. In their spare time Rick and Karen have a speaking ministry. (Check out their Website – R & K Ministries and Facebook page.)
How did you first meet?
At seminary north of Boston, MA. My (Karen) mom called long distance and told me, “I’ve been praying that God would bring your husband soon,” to which I replied, “Not this semester, Mom. I’m too busy!” But within a week I met Rick. The seminary was running a carpool to a conference, and I was assigned to Rick’s car. One look at the driver and I was smitten–so I sat in the back seat, because I was shy. Someone pulled me out saying, “You’re small. You sit in the front.” Right next to Rick. We like to say we started talking on the way down and haven’t stopped yet.
What was your first date?
Charming Rockport, MA, where we strolled the shops, watched the fishing boats and enjoyed the ocean. Then on to Woodman’s Restaurant in Essex where we dined on seafood. Very romantic.
As a couple, what is something you have struggled with or a difficulty you have overcome? How would you encourage other couples that may be facing the same challenge?
Our differing personalities have proved to be a source of conflict over the years. He loves to plan, is decisive, and wants to “git ‘er done” and move on. I’m spontaneous, want to do all the research before we decide, and am a perfectionist who wants to take the time to “do it right.” Over the years we’ve learned to appreciate the balance we bring to each other. Without him, I’d never accomplish anything. Without me, quality would suffer–and he would forget to stop and smell the flowers. To couples we’d say, learn to appreciate your differences. Find the middle ground between the two.
What was your best date ever and what made it so outstanding?
Hands down, a date in London. History lovers, we visited Churchill’s War Rooms, then decided on the spur of the moment to catch a show. We dashed across town just in time to see “Legally Blonde” at the Savoy Theater, followed by a late dinner. We’d spent other days in London, but this one was an adventure–and oh, so romantic. We still talk about it.
What are some marriage resources that have helped you build a better marriage?
When we went through premarital counseling (which we highly recommend for all engaged couples), our mentor told us that most couples wait until their marriage is too far gone to go for counseling. If you seem to be having the same argument again and again, go for counseling to get an outside perspective. We’ve done that as needed through the years, and it has proved most helpful.
Also, “A Weekend to Remember,“ a marriage conference put on across the country by FamilyLife, is topnotch.
His Needs, Her Needs is one of many helpful books.
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that has helped you become a better spouse.
Can’t remember the moment we discovered it, but if you try to win a fight, your marriage is going to lose. It’s all about deepening your understanding of each other and coming together to tackle your issues.
If you could go back in time and give your newlywed selves one piece of marriage advice, what would that be?
I would tell myself, “Learn your husband’s love language and speak it. Don’t just show your love in the way you’re used to giving it.” (I was trying to show my love by cooking delicious meals, when what he really needed was words of affirmation–“I believe in you.”)
When you think about your future together, what are you most excited about?
We love to speak and minister together. We’re looking forward to having more time to do that.
You have been married for 36 years. What’s the secret to your marriage lasting so long?
Here are some things that have helped us:
1) Early on we set our priorities: God, then spouse, then children, then work/ministry. If we feel these getting out of whack, we sit down and reassess our lives.
2) From the beginning we decided there would be no back door in case it “didn’t work out.” This has forced us to work out our problems before they become a problem.
3) We try not to “let the sun go down on our anger,” regularly asking for/offering forgiveness. We set ground rules for fighting–no attacking each other, but focus on the issues.
4) We pray with and for each other every day.
5) We work to keep romance alive by dating (we try for once a week), daily phone calls, texts, love notes, etc.
6.) We study each other’s likes, dislikes, and needs and try to serve each other.
7.) We strive to improve our marriage by attending marriage conferences, reading books on the subject, romantic getaways, etc.
8) We understand that feelings are fleeting, but married love is a decision and a lifelong commitment.
If you found an idea that encouraged or inspired you, be sure to pass it on!
Share it with your spouse, a friend or even in the comments below.