Karen & Dennis
Long Live Love!
This week I am delighted to share a truly adorable Long Live Love story. It isn’t every day you have a couple who met when they were only kids! I met Karen and Dennis early on in my marriage when my husband was working on his Master’s degree in Southern California. Without fail, every time I hung out with Karen, she would offer me wonderful words of advice and wisdom about marriage and life. Just what every young wife needs!
So when I started to think about who I should ask to share on this blog series, Karen and Dennis came to mind faster than just about anybody. They have a beautiful perspective, and a love for one another that we can all learn from.
So Karen, when did you and Dennis meet and what was your first date?
Dennis and I have known each other all of our lives! Our parents were friends, and our families went on vacations together when we were young. Since he is the oldest of 5 and I am the youngest of 3, we didn’t spend much time together in those years. And then his family moved away, so we didn’t see each other during the middle and high school years.
When I was a freshman at Biola University, Dennis came back to Southern California to attend Talbot Seminary. My dad instructed me to be friendly and helpful to the “Dirks boy” who was coming to town, and I was very obedient! Dennis asked my brother if I was dating anyone. My brother didn’t like my boyfriend, so he gave Dennis the green light to ask me out. By then my boyfriend was history!
Our first date was the Missionary Conference meeting at church, and then “cruising” Hollywood Blvd. From that point on we spent a lot of time in the Biola library, at church, and with our families until we were married 2 years later.
I bet Dennis was glad that you took your dad’s advice! It seems like you were pretty crazy about each other early on, but when did you first know you loved Dennis?
I knew that I loved Dennis when we first started dating, and that love matured and grew the longer we were together.
That is beautiful, and so sweet! So once he won your heart, when did you two get married?
We were married 45 years ago, in March of 1969. Weddings were simpler in those days. We definitely could have used an event planner! We did our best with decor and special touches and were able to laugh about the results (my bridesmaid dresses were apricot, and the flowers in the hanging baskets next to them were pink, even though I had taken a swatch of fabric to the florist to match!).
What one piece of advice or wisdom do you have for young couples who are newly married?
My advice to newly married couples is to seek to serve one another. The early years of marriage are the time to cement the foundation of self-sacrifice and purposeful acts of kindness. It seems obvious when love is in full bloom, but we see so many individuals who are more interested in their own rights and privileges and comfort than in elevating their spouse’s concerns above their own.
What is one really practical piece of advice you have for young couples?
I would advise young couples to put even more care and preparation into their marriage as they do into their wedding day. Find mentor couples, have pre-marital counseling, read books, talk endlessly together about your family of origin, your idea of normal home life, your desires, life goals, expectations. Thoroughly explore your intentions as reflected in your vows, and how they will be lived out in your life together.
What would you say has been the secret to your marriage?
The secret to our marriage has been to have common goals in life. Goals need to be worth pursuing, and we have found that the only thing worth pursuing is a relationship with Jesus Christ. To focus on this doesn’t really depend on seasons or circumstances or gifts or even interests. We have tried to know what is pleasing to God and to know Jesus more and more.
What is one thing you wish you would have known those first few years of marriage?
We are on the same lifelong team. There is no competition within our family. We desire to complement our spouse’s strengths and weaknesses as we encourage each other to model ourselves after Jesus Christ.
And I would love to know, what is your favorite memory from your wedding?!
Our reception was in the fellowship hall/gym of our church (every bride of that era tried something different to hide the basketball hoops!), with my aunts serving the cake and punch and coffee. It was simple, but all our family and close friends and mentors and entire church community was there to celebrate with us, and that’s what I will always remember.
I just love that story! And such sage advice for blushing brides and newlyweds. I wholeheartedly agree with Karen about preparing as much for marriage as you do the wedding. It is easy to get sucked into all the glorious details, but at the end of the day, you still want to be ready for the actual marriage! It is a beautiful gift, but not one to be taken lightly which I think Karen highlighted perfectly.