There’s nothing like that initial jolt when you realize you’ve met your future soul mate. As anyone who has experienced it knows, love is exhilarating, exciting, scary and, yes, likely to make you queasy sometimes. Love also evolves and grows over time as life, in all its unpredictable glory, brings with it challenges and miracles impossible to plan for. In celebration of love—that messy, wondrous emotion that both defines and connects us—we asked three Lake Norman couples to share with us their journey through love and marriage.
John and Kay Filar
John and Kay Filar will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary this year – the same year they both turn 60. “John turns 60 three months before I do, so I’ll definitely be rubbing that fact in,” says Kay. The couple lives in Davidson, and own the retail store Tenniseveryone! in Cornelius. Additionally, Kay works as an administrative assistant in the chemistry department at Davidson College. How did you two meet?
“We met in 1970 at Westminster College in northwestern Pennsylvania,” says Kay. “We got to know each other while making tissue-paper flowers for the homecoming parade freshman float that portrayed (the Broadway musical) “Hello, Dolly!” At the last minute, the mannequin fell off the float and I was talked into putting on the dress to become a live Dolly. When I arrived at the parade’s ending, John was there to help me down and asked me out on a date.”
How did you know he/she was “the one?”
“I knew Kay was the one after our first kiss, walking in a park on (Westminster College) campus,” John says. “After seeing John interact with his family, especially his infant godson, I knew he was the one,” says Kay. What was your wedding like?
John and Kay were married in 1975 in Kay’s United Methodist church in Hershey, Pa. A priest from John’s Catholic church in nearby Jeanette, Pa., oversaw the ceremony, which was a festive event with plenty of music and good times. After a backyard reception, the couple honeymooned in Myrtle Beach. What do you love most about each other?
“I love Kay’s kind heart and the ability to see the positive in every person and situation,” says John. “This trait comes from her strong faith which has touched our life together in everything.” “What I love most about John is his wonderful sense of humor,” says Kay. “He has this amazing knack for saying or doing something that in great times brings a deep belly laugh, and in trying times makes me smile and realize that everything will be OK.”
What challenges have you faced as a couple?
“We’ve faced very common challenges that come with striking out on your own a long way from home,” Kay says. “The tasks of finding jobs and meeting friends, making ends meet and learning to balance work and family. We’ve also faced situations such as caring for elderly parents in our home and going through their illnesses and deaths.” What keeps your marriage strong?
The lovebirds say they keep the romantic flames burning with a weekly date night. And even when times are tough, they try to remember the importance of laughter, communication, and generosity.
Miles and Kim Atkins
Miles and Kim Atkins met in 1993 when they both worked at Washburn Graphics in Charlotte. Miles says he knew after the first date—on Valentine’s Day—that Kim was the one for him. Kim admits it took her a little longer to realize she had found her true love. The couple tied the knot in 1995, and two yeas later moved from Charlotte to Mooresville. Today, both play pivotal roles in their hometown. Kim is the executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission, and Miles is the newly elected mayor of Mooresville. What was your wedding like?
“We were married during an intimate, romantic ceremony at a bed and breakfast in Charlotte,” Kim says. “About 60 people attended, mostly family. We read our own vows and were both very emotional and overjoyed. Everyone cried, including us.” What do you love most about each other?
“I love Kim’s dedication and commitment to her family,” says Miles. “Miles is loyal, and always seeks to find the positive in everything,” says Kim. What challenges have you faced as a couple?
“Having children is a wonderful experience that’s also challenging,” says Kim. “It’s an initial adjustment and then you have to keep up with them as they grow and change.” The couple has a daughter, Rett, 12, and a son, Liam, 10.
What keeps your marriage strong?
“We both believe in honesty and respect,” Kim says. “There are many small ways to disrespect another person. We focus very much on being respectful to each other.”
Bryan and Lucy Kennedy
The newlyweds were married Sept. 10, 2011, and live in Huntersville’s Caldwell Station neighborhood. Lucy works at Wells Fargo as a client account manager and Bryan, a licensed general contractor, owns the Huntersville-based Kennedy & Son Construction with his father. How did you meet?
Bryan and Lucy, both 26, met as young teenagers on the school bus. “Bryan never rode the bus home, but one day after I saw him in gym class he got on the bus and sat right behind me,” Lucy says. “I turned around to talk to him and the rest is history.” They were a couple until Bryan moved to California six years later. “I knew Lucy was the one when we were apart and I couldn’t stop thinking about her,” says Bryan. “I ended up moving back but didn’t tell her so she’d be surprised. I drove across country, arrived at 2 a.m. and went straight to her house to see her.” What was your wedding like?
Their wedding was a casual afternoon affair, decorated with fall colors and flowers. The reception included Spanish music to honor Lucy’s Latina heritage. What do you love most about each other?
“What I love most about Bryan is how he always makes me smile and laugh,” Lucy says. “Especially when I’m mad he gives me this look. It’s almost like his eyes are smiling and I can’t help but smile back.” “What I love most about Lucy is how I feel when I’m with her,” Bryan says. “No matter what kind of obstacle I have to overcome, I can do so with the love of my life by my side.” What challenges have you faced as a couple?
“The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far is creating a budget and getting our finances in order,” says Lucy. “We both enjoy going out, but now that we have bills to pay we’re working to find a happy medium.” What keeps your marriage strong?
“Our friendship, history and love for each other keep us strong,” says Lucy. “We weren’t best friends that decided to date but rather became best friends while we were dating.”