Lasting Love. Volume 1 - The Olsens



Do you ever wonder what it would feel like to be married to the same person for over 50 years?
With an increase in divorce rates and many couples choosing not to marry, it’s easy to wonder if lasting marriages are a thing of the past.

What if we could better understand what makes love last? Are there any secrets we can learn from couples who have stayed happily married?

I want to invite you to follow along on this new blog series I'm calling, “Lasting Love” where I'll be interviewing couples (many from my home town) who have been married for over 50 years. I’ll be asking them questions about life, love, and marriage and recording their answers here. I hope that we can each learn more about what it takes to build and maintain a love that will withstand the test of time.

For this first post of the series, I am very excited to introduce you to one of the sweetest couples I know: Richard (Dick) and Earleen Olsen. 





We drive down the down dirt road leading to their solitary house, and before we can even get out of the car Dick is waiting for us on their doorstep. He ushers us into their home with a big smile and a friendly greeting.

He is tall and skinny man with white hair and a deep voice. His wife Earleen is about a foot shorter than him. A petite woman with kind eyes.  Their home is clean and uncluttered, but it still has a welcoming, cozy feeling.

We each take a seat in their their front room and chat for a while. First about their family and then ours. Eventually, I ask if they'd be willing to answer a few questions about their their love, life, and marriage.  

"We've been married 54 years. This year in June." Dick answers with some pride in his voice.
"Yeah. It’s a miracle." Earleen laughingly replies, and they smile at each other from across the room. 

"How did you two meet?"

"Well she worked with a girl who lined us up."

"Like a blind date?" I ask him

 "A blind date - yeah."

Earleen leans forward in her chair and looks at me with wide eyes. "Well let me tell ya, on the blind date when he said goodbye - he patted me on the bum!" She smiles and shakes her head, "And I thought, 'My mother didn’t tell me this would happen.' I don’t wanna see him again!" She leans back in her chair and laughs. "But four weeks later he called me and I went out with him again."

She continues, "I was teaching Sunday school when we were going together and he always told his mother, 'If my little Sunday school teacher calls, tell her I’ll call her back.' He always had a lot of respect for his mother, and I had a friend tell me that if a man has a lot of respect for his mother he is gonna have a lot of respect for his wife."

"Yes. I agree with that! Well, how old where you guys when you went on your first date?" I ask.

"20, 21 right in there." Dick answers  

"But," Earlean says, "I was 28 you was 25 when we got married."

 "I was in the army for two years, then we got married." Looking at Earleen he asks, "What? Two or three weeks after I got out? A little bit after that."

She slowly shakes her head in agreement.

"What is one of the most difficult trials you’ve faced together as a couple and how did you get through it together?"

After a moment Earleen replies "I think the hardest times was when our son and his wife separated. I said to Dick, go down and put him in an apartment. We set him up and everything. I just felt like it brought us closer together because we were doing things together. Because we were helping our son out. When something goes wrong with your kids, you worry about them. No matter how old they get. Ya know?"

"Well that’s probably about as good as any that I can think of." Dick agrees.

"Well then, what is one of your favorite memories together?" I ask.

"Gee." Dick says thoughtfully. "I don't know – they’re all good."

Earleen says "Well taking our kids on vacation, in fact our kids always talk about our vacations that we’ve been on together. That’s our fondest memories of doing things with our kids. Ya know? Or even, we’ve had fun having family breakfasts for Christmas. It’d been a tradition for years. Now we don’t do nothing." she laughs

"Oh we’ve done a lot of fishin’." Dick responds "A few years ago, on the opening of fishing, we worked all evening: gonna go fishing, put the boat on, extend the camper bumper. We left about 10 at night. We got up there and we stopped on the side of the road, there was cars all backed up - trying to get into Strawberry. So we just pulled off the road and went to sleep in the boat." Dick continues with the story as Earleen starts to giggle, "Well, all the cars going by that night stirrin’ up dust and we woke up and there was dust all over us."

They both bust into laughter and Earleen says, "I’m surprised we didn’t have it in our mouths.  We laughed about that all night."

"We used to do a lot of fishin’." Dick says,  "I’d build boats and we’d go fishing."

Earleen exclaims, "Oh! How about going dune buggin’? We used to - that was a lot of fun. Going dune buggin’. There was about ten couples that used to go up to Bear Lake, and we went down to Moab. The elephant hill. It’s been a lot of fun. In fact uh, one of the guys we used to go with just passed away."

Dick gets up from the couch, "I gotta show you them dune buggy trips. Gotta show you them pictures. There’s some good ones."

"Oh no," Earleen sighs. "You’re gonna be here all night long. Have you got all night?" she laughs.

We reassure her that it's fine, and we'd love to look at their pictures. The beginning of the album has old yellowed pictures of their trip to Moab. Dick tells us how there was little restrictions on off-roading vehicles back then. Everyone in the pictures are wearing high waisted, boot-cut jeans. They are young and smiling in each picture, and it looks like they were having the time of their lives.

The photo album also contains other vacations. Dick tell us their family loved to float down the river at Lava Hot Springs. He says, "A lot of people use great big inner tubes, we used little inner tubes and got a better ride. We go through the waves. You hit these waves like that and you go right under’em. Our kids talk about floating the river more than anything else, when they get together.Yeah. That’s some good memories there. It’s free. Don’t cost nothing back then. We didn’t even have a tent. We slept out under the stars and got rained on and ended up sleeping in the car." he laughs.

At the end of the photo album I ask my last question, "If you could give one piece of advice about marriage to your grand-kids, what would it be?"

Earleen says, "Learn how to keep your mouth shut. You can always voice your opinion, but when you voice your opinion back off and go in the other room." She laughs and says, "I always let him think he’s the boss, but I’m really the boss." and laughs again. 

Dick says, "We work together. What you do is your work together, you don’t work against each other."

"And," Earleen continues "I always make sure he kisses me goodnight." 

They smile at each other and I thank them for allowing us to visit and for answering all my questions. As we're leaving they remind us to watch out for the deer. "There's a herd of them that love to spend time around here." Dick says, "Come back in a few weeks, when the ice on the pond has melted, and come canoeing. Bring your friends."

We thank them again and tell them we'd love to see them again soon.




***

As I was writing this post, I thought about how important it is to make life-long memories together, treat each other with a high level of respect, and work together as a team when life gets tough. 

I also realized that the Olsens approach life with excitement and open hearts. Not only are they actively involved in their children and grandchildren's lives, but they stay active in other hobbies and interests as well. They are quick to laugh, but care deeply for their family and friends.


Is there anything you've learned from the Olsens about how to create a lasting marriage? I'd love to hear your thoughts.  



3 comments

  1. This is the best post ever haha I love it! Lately I've been talking to my grandparents more about their memories and I think it is so special to hear what the older and wiser generation has to say. This is such a cool idea you have to document this! Can't wait to read more. Thank you so much by the way for your response to the post on my blog, you are awesome.

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  2. I cannot tell you how precious this is! Made me smile from ear to ear! Beautiful example! I wrote a post last year About how to keep your marriage thriving and I must say my husband and I work very hard but we also play very hard and the fact that we have so much fun together and laughter oh my how laughter is the key! So happy to follow You girl!!

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  3. oh my gosh. this is amazing!! thank you so much for putting this together and sharing it!

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