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True love stories: 5 married couples offer inspiring advice

Wednesday , February 14, 2018 - 5:15 AM

Five Northern Utah couples say they’ve found ways to continually fall in love.

Their secrets?

All the textbook answers really do work, they said.

Among their suggestions for other couples were working toward developing patience, forgiveness and appreciation.

“He knows the best of me and the worst of me and he still loves me,” said Janet Van Eerden of Roy.

“He’s put me on this pedestal,” said Krystal Roskelley of Hooper. “He makes me feel safe.”

“I think of what she is doing and what she needs,” said Freddie Lopez of Roy. “If she’s happy, then everything goes good.”

Each couple told the story of how they met, how they fell in love and how they continuously strengthen their marriage every day.

Story continues below photo.

Kirk and Krystal Roskelley of Hooper

Kirk and Krystal Roskelley, both 40, were 30 years old when they met as a result of a promise Chip Preston, then Kirk’s boss, had made to Kirk’s parents to find him a wife.

Krystal said Preston, who held a place of trust for her, kept asking her personal questions and finally asked for her phone number.

“You are married,” she remembers saying to him. “It’s not like that,” she recalls him saying back.

With introductions out of the way, dating was delayed first after Kirk lost Krystal’s phone number and then when he waited to recover from an injury.

They ended up talking on the phone for two months before going out. Once together, they both fell in love within a few months.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding,” Krystal said, recalling how she felt nine years ago. 

The two faced challenges early in their marriage as they fought infertility by investing in all available resources. Krystal said she felt devastated when a doctor finally told them they were not going to conceive.

“It was the worst thing ever,” she said.

Shortly after that, the couple was asked to raise Kirk’s nephew, Mason Roskelley, who is now 17.

Krystal said she was ready to put all of her love into that relationship. She believes raising Mason has allowed the couple to have a family life. 

“He loves me no matter what,” Krystal said of Kirk.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” Kirk said as advice to other couples. “There’s plenty of big stuff. Just have each other’s back.”

Story continues below photo.

Janet and David Van Eerden of Roy

This couple met at the funeral of David’s great uncle, who had known both of them and unsuccessfully tried to set them up.

“If I would have seen her, I would have said, ‘Yeah, I want to go out with her,’” David said.

It took Janet asking him for a ride home from a performance they both were in to get them dating.

Now, they have been married for 32 years and have two grown children and a grandchild on the way.

Janet, 52, and David, 55, say they couldn’t be closer.

“When you are married and it’s your best friend, you go through life and there’s ups and downs but there are a lot of really great days,” Janet said.

With her requiring several lung surgeries throughout their marriage, him needing to go back to school at 30 for training as a teacher, and them losing both sets of parents, they said hard times have cemented their bond.

“Hard things either bring you together or they split you apart,” Janet said. “Luckily, I felt like we would grow closer together as a couple when we would go through hard things.”

Their advice to other couples is to lower expectations.

“Sometimes we go into a marriage feeling like our spouse should be perfect and always be able to read our minds,” Janet said. “You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and know that they are trying the best they can.”

David warned against taking offense. “This is the person you married and you have to find that love again regardless of what it takes,” he said. “Don’t give up on each other. Just have that respect.”

Story continues below video.

Freddie and Sharon Lopez of Roy

Freddie, 24, and Sharon, 25, met in high school. She recalls liking Freddie the minute she saw him from across the room.

Now married seven years, they say they constantly make each other laugh.

With children ages 6 and 3 and a high level of activity, including school, work, church and family, they said finding joy was important.

“I completely understand how difficult life can be,” Sharon said. “My advice is to take that moment and laugh.”

Sharon advised couples to “just catch up and connect” while showing each other appreciation.

“What has really kept us together is to put God in the middle of it, trusting and letting him work things out,” Freddie said.

Freddie became emotional when he reported the statistical unlikelihood that their marriage would survive and explained his passion for overcoming the odds.

“Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce,” he said.

Freddie noted that Hispanics, like them, and those from the couple’s native inner-city Ogden have even more limited odds of achieving a lasting marriage.

“We have done an excellent job overcoming that,” Freddie said.

Sharon said she has learned to ask when she needs help with housekeeping and child-rearing. Freddie said he’s learned to offer assistance even when he’s not asked.

“He doesn’t know what you are feeling and how exhausted you are,” she said as advice to other wives. “Tell him exactly what you are feeling and express it ... in a way that they can understand.”

Story continues below video.

Colleen and Jolene Mewing of Syracuse

Colleen and Jolene met at an event sponsored by OWLS (Older, Wiser Lesbian Sisters) and organized by Colleen.

After a few dates, the couple said Meghan Abbott, Jolene’s daughter who now is 22, fell in love with Colleen and that was a good sign.

The two were engaged twice during a trip to Hawaii for Colleen’s 50th birthday. Each of them planned separately to propose on the trip.

Colleen, now 55, proposed to Jolene, now 43, as the sun went down on the beach Dec. 12, 2012.

Jolene proposed to Colleen a few days later on the 18th hole during a golfing trip. Colleen was surprised when Jolene emerged from a bunker wearing a shirt that said “Marry Me” and handing her a ball that posed the question.  

Their favorite moments included getting married for the first time in Washington State 21 days before they were surprised to have the opportunity to marry again in Utah.

Dec. 20, 2013, they were married in Salt Lake City as marriage between same-sex couples was allowed for the first time in Utah.

Related: Same-sex marriage: Stories from the Top of Utah

“I’m an officiant, so I was able to marry dozens of couples and it was, wow, so beautiful,” Jolene said.

Sherrie Swenson, who is the Salt Lake County clerk, made sure it moved as smoothly and quickly as possible,” she said. “I was just amazed by the support.”

Jolene said she appreciates Colleen’s patience, especially when she experiences chronic pain. “This is my life and I am proud of this amazing woman I come home to every day.”

“We’re not perfect — neither of us are — but we are very quick to say ‘I’m sorry. That was wrong of me,’” Jolene said.

Story continues below video.

Larry and Lily Magruder of Hooper

Larry, 73, and Lily, 64, were each previously married. They said they both were left by previous spouses after decades of marriage. After each was single for about five years, they married each other nearly 15 years ago.

“Be slow to anger. Be quick to forgive. Don’t make the small things the big things,” Larry, the pastor of Wasatch Cowboy Church, said he tells other couples.

Larry and Lily get many opportunities to offer marriage counseling.

“Never go to bed angry with each other,” Lily said. “If there’s disagreements, we talk it out.”

Larry and Lily met at a church but Lily doesn’t recall that meeting. It wasn’t until Larry found a way to spend some time with her at her work site that he caught her attention.

“He seemed to be a very nice man, a very interesting person,” Lily said.

While they were an older couple, their dating life still followed the rules of courtship they had learned in their younger years.

They recall Lily’s mother, then in her 80s, going along during a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, before they were married.

“Mother and I had a great time,” Lily said. “My kids chuckle about that. ... It just seems comical that I would have my mother along with me.”

Among the challenges they’ve faced is trust.

“Both of us had been hurt before,” Lily said. “Flashbacks were still a part of my past and I just had to deal with them.”

All difficulties were brought into perspective through faith, Larry said. 

“Everything we do in our home is centered on our faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “It’s not a competition when you do that. ... If we don’t both win, we have both lost.”

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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