Years Married: 34
Location: Bryant, AR
Kids: 3 Children; 3 Grandchildren
Occupations: George - AGM (Assistant General Manager) Ben E. Keith Foods (Mid-South Division); Kim - CKO (Chief Kisses Officer) of Kisses 4 Us
Hobbies/Interests: Sitting by the Ocean (Atlantic Ocean today) while having drinks and appetizers and talking about our marriage.
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Today we went to our favorite Ice Cream Store in Vero Beach. George had New Orleans Praline Pecan ice cream in a cup, while Kim had Toasted Coconut in a Waffle Cone (gotta have the crunch of a cone!).
Q. Will you share with us some of the little things you do together, or for each other, to express love and appreciation to each other?
As CKO of our own company, Kim certainly can sleep in and get up when she feels like it. However, every morning she gets up with George and fixes him breakfast, all while watching a bit of the Today show and looking at the paper. It’s a little thing she does, but it's a cool thing to do to start every day together.
Also, how mundane is putting gas in your car? Don’t ask Kim, she’s hardly ever done it! George keeps the tank in her car filled, a very little thing that is just one example of how he wants to take care of her in life.
Q. What has been your favorite date you have been on together?
It’s hard to pick a favorite date but our first one was fun. George had asked Kim out at Harpo’s (great college bar in Columbia, MO) and said he’d pick her up from work the next evening when she finished her shift.
Kim’s story: George said he would call the next day to confirm.
George’s story: Not.
When George didn’t call Kim the next day, she called her Mom to pick her up from work thinking she got stood up. George arrived promptly at 9pm when the store closed to pick Kim up and start a fun date. Sort of unbelievably, he met her mom shopping at the store, and whisked Kim away for their first date - which included backgammon and ice cream drinks at another local bar, the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin, and a used pizza around midnight. To hear more about the used pizza, you’ll have to get to know us better!
Q. What are the obstacles you have faced in going on dates, and what have you done to ensure that dates happen?
Obstacles to date night for us = KIDS! We love them! We don’t regret any of the school functions, homework nights, sports practices, games, social activities, teenage years, proms, college tuitions, weddings, etc.! Our children are truly our greatest joy, aside from each other. However, busy schedules presented distractions. Somehow though, we knew that our relationship was the strength that made our family’s values strong. So we made time for us. It wasn’t always grand - a movie night, a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot together to get stuff for a home project, a glass of wine and a movie at home when the kids were busy - it didn’t matter as long as we got a chance to cuddle and enjoy being with each other.
We don’t mean to be blasé about making time for us to be with each other. In hindsight, it seems easier than it was at the time. Throw in being tired, on a budget, getting ready for the next day, stresses of work, etc., believe us it wasn’t easy! But it was important and somehow we knew it and hung in there. For every time it was tough and one or both of us really wasn’t in the mood, we reconnected and enjoyed time together.
Q. What do you love about each other? What is your spouse’s strongest trait?
G: Kim has a big heart, period. The world would be a better place with more Kims in it. There is no doubt that she has made me a better person, sometimes in spite of myself. She has warmth, a service-to-others orientation and a smile that lights up not only my world, but the world in general. There have been many times that I’ve been humbled to be tagging along with her while she’s doing one of her many good deeds. And on the physical scale, she has a killer smile and other wonderful attributes! Total package!
K: On a broad level, the one word to sum up George is "integrity." He is honest, hard working, compassionate and good on his word. These strong qualities have been instilled into our children and I can say the same thing about each one of them, too, and they know as well as I do that they have turned into their Dad (which was the last thing they imagined doing as a teenager!). On a more personal level, he gets me. He makes me smile. He has my back. He loves me. He is totally devoted to me. From the moment we met, the spark was ignited inside me that words can’t explain, you just know “this is the one.”
Q. How do those traits, values, strengths and characteristics nurture your marriage?
It’s not hard. No matter what else is going on, eventually we get back to being centered on each other and how much that means to us. Being with each other for so long and being as happy as we’ve been, we truly know how lucky we’ve been. Sometimes when we see the troubles others go through, we think we have been so lucky to have found each other and to have had as much fun together that some higher power, or fate, or lottery luck was involved.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
Physical intimacy has always been important to us. We need the touch of one another to feel connected. From the bedroom, to holding hands on a walk through the neighborhood, our bond is strengthened by each other's touch. And we're big fans of kissing!!
Our new business, Kisses 4 Us, is the best example of how we value intimacy. Here’s the story (from our website):
"During our 35 years together, my husband has proven to be the romantic one in our relationship. Whether it was spur of the moment poetry or the perfect song with lyrics that seemed to have been written just for us, my husband continually brought a fun romantic spark to our relationship.
That kind of creative romance just doesn’t come as naturally to me. As our first Christmas as “empty nesters” approached, I decided that I wanted to give him a gift that would return the flirty, yet deeply loved, feeling.
During my search for inspiration, I came across the tagline “Merry Kissmas.” Although it referred to the chocolate variety of kisses, I had my idea - A Christmas Countdown of Kisses!
The first kiss was obvious, as Mistletoe was already one of our Christmas traditions. Then came the Fireplace Kiss, another of our favorites. Both of these kisses - as well as a Staircase Kiss (my husband is taller than me and it allows me to reach him better) were already “our kisses.” I needed more though, so research ensued. I eventually filled a holiday bag with 25 kiss cards. He chose one kiss card at random each day until Christmas.
The gift was a hit! We had fun trying out new kisses while counting down to Christmas and deemed it our new countdown tradition. The cards were unpacked again with the decorations the following year and it was just as much fun.
The best part was that my husband and I realized we weren’t only using the kisses during the Christmas season, but all year long! Sometimes you need an Upside Down Creamy Kiss in the summer, too!
We believed other couples would have just as much fun as we did rediscovering the magic of kissing. It took almost a year to put together Kisses 4 Us. The whole family got involved. Talking to our kids about kissing was fun (once they got over the shock that their parents were creating a romantic gift item).
The quality and details were deliberately chosen to ensure that Kisses 4 Us is worthy of being gifted to that “someone special” in your life. In addition to the kisses we’ve included, there are blank cards so you can Create Your Own kisses that are uniquely “yours.” Also included is an Idea Book filled with ways to use Kisses 4 Us and keep you kissing all year long, and for any occasion!"
Q. Do you have any special places, things you say to each other, or other mini-traditions that are unique to your marriage?
Our first date was Dec. 20th, 1979. March 20th, 1980 was a big date too, when we let our hormones catch up with our hearts. We got engaged Dec. 20th, 1981 and promised ourselves to each other for the rest of our lives. So on the 20th of every month….we wish each other Happy Anniversary! To be fair, George started tradition and has kept the tradition alive throughout our 36 years of being together. It’s corny, but it’s us.
Q. What specific suggestions can you share that have helped you work through challenges that have come up in your marriage?
George has the rougher edge, having to be the sole provider for the family and immersed in the business world. Kim has the nurturing spirit, having to be the primary person to raise our family. In the past, when our roles have switched a bit, it has led to a lot of "discussions." Trying to work through those issues always brings us back to the value and appreciation we have for what each of us is doing, for what we have done, and for what we do for the future and well being of each other and our family.
Don’t be mad at each other - rather, be mad at the issue or situation.
Sometimes when truly we couldn’t find common ground on the issue, we came back to the truth that we respected and loved each other and we were able to work it out.
Q. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in your marriage and how have you overcome them? How has your marriage been nurtured in the process?
This is one of the things we’ve talked about when we’ve seen our friends’ relationships in trouble, because we don’t feel we’ve really had any “greatest challenges.” We don’t know if we’ve just been really lucky or if the way we feel about each other has guided us through life without major strife. Whichever it is, we are grateful.
Q. What principles and/or practical suggestions have helped you, as a couple, manage your finances? What marriage-related financial tips could you share with other couples?
The first one came early in our marriage and was difficult at first. Don’t spend what we don’t have. That meant credit cards at first. Doesn’t matter what the sale was, 21% annual interest is likely to make the item cost way more. "Save it, then spend it," has served us well. We now buy our cars for cash and have no home mortgage. Excavation for the pool and hot tub starts next week!
The second one involves college and kids. We made a contract with our kids - we’ll pay for four years of tuition, and room and board at a state university, and then anything they saved we’d split 50/50 with them. Our oldest graduated in 3 2/3 years (trimesters), our daughter graduated in 3 1/3 years and our youngest just finished in 3 years. Each was motivated, definitely got the full “fun” of being in college, and a very nice graduation check! The principle of having skin in the game worked for our family.
Q. You are still married. What is your secret to a happy marriage?
Our secret is to love each other. It’s a trite saying and some would say a cliché, but in reality that’s what it is for us. In some ways we agree with the conventional wisdom that marriage takes hard work, but on another level, we secretly laugh inside because we’ve never really felt that we’ve had to work that hard at being with each other. And for that, we are both truly thankful.
A Final Tip
Your children will grow up and leave you someday. You want to set an example for your children of what a happy marriage should look like. Continue to be fun and flirty with each other in front of your children. Show your children that you are important to one another, and take trips and date nights together. They are learning what a good relationship looks like from you. By nurturing our marriage throughout the years of raising our children, when they did leave the nest, we were ready to get back to being just a couple again!
"There is properly no history; only biography."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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