What makes love last? Amarillo couples share their secrets to success

Love is a lot like Texas Panhandle snow: It either beckons one outdoors to enjoy its splendor or can can cause one to dead-bolt the door.

 

In the various stages of life — youth, midlife and the golden years — love has different meanings and interpretations. Love changes and deepens; it’s often bolstered by the tests of time and hardship. Love bends and can break.

And every year on Valentine’s Day, it’s thrown into the spotlight.

Calvin and Genie Murray were married 68 years ago, just two months after meeting and less than a week after engagement.

Two weeks after Rick and Silvia Rodriguez met, they were engaged.

Ryan Land and Marlee Wall met through college friends during a trip to grab Thai food. Two years later, they’re still happily dating.

Love isn’t always so cozy.

The Murrays lost two children early in their marriage; the Rodriguez’ son was diagnosed with autism at an early age.

And so far, Land and Wall, both actors, have had some disagreements on artistic preferences.

Whether it’s two years of dating or 68 years of marriage, time only adds to the possibility of a couple experiencing some pain or, even worse, maddening frustration with each other.

But at the core, woven throughout each of these stories, is the simple thread of intentionally working together.

Valentines: Calvin (92) & Genie (86) Murray, married for 68 years

  • First met: Summer school 1948, Southwestern Institute of Technology, Weatherford, Okla.
  • First Date: Western movie
  • Engaged: On a Monday in late August 1948
  • Married: The first Thursday in September 1948

  • Amarillo Globe-News: What was it that made each of you fall in love?
  • Genie Murray: “He was affectionate, he was thoughtful and…”
  • Calvin Murray: “And I had a black Nash Rambler.”
  • GM: “He made me feel important and special.”
  • CM: “She was highly intelligent and she had the same principles in life that I felt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her … because I knew she was stable and wasn’t flitty and liked a lot of things that I didn’t like at all … I just felt a need for her and she fit my style.”
  • GM: “We kind of complete each other.”
  • AGN: Do you see couples who put up a façade when they first get together? What is the danger in that?
  • GM: “I can see that happening. It’s sad. But I think both of us have always felt like we are who we are. When we first started dating, well I like to dance, well he took me dancing some because I liked it, but I discovered right away that he didn’t like to dance. So I did not put him in that position and we just found other things that we liked to do.”
  • CM: “It wasn’t that I didn’t like to dance, it’s that I couldn’t dance.”
  • GM: “Oh, bologna. But I do agree that happens. I think it’s sad because if you’re not who you are, then it’s going to come out sometime when you get into the intimate relationship of marriage and then it’s not going to work.”
  • CM: “Some people, if they believe their vows and are committed to it, they stick it out.”
  • GM: “They’ve got to find a way to work through it, not around it, but through it, if they were really serious about their vows and understood what they were saying.”
  • AGN: Is there a point to accept how your partner is, fundamentally? Or is there a point to change yourself or attempt to change your partner?
  • GM: “I don’t really like the word ‘accepting’ because that’s like swallowing something and it doesn’t go away. Thinking about how important is (the issue) compared to if I react to that, what are the consequences? And is that important enough to cause a problem here? I don’t call that accepting, I just call that working through it. I don’t think you can just squelch and swallow things that irritate you. I think you need to think about it, maybe think about ‘Why does it irritate me?’ Sometimes the things that irritate us are because that’s what’s in ourselves and we might need to recognize that and always go back to ‘Why did I fall in love with this person?’”
  • AGN: What is a practical key to overcoming frustration or disagreements and making a relationship last?
  • GM: “Not having our own way is a big part of life, you know that? In happiness? I don’t have to have my own way to make it good … When I’m irritated to the bone, I just stop and think a minute and try to look at what he’s putting up with me. And I think, ‘Well, I better be careful, he may be wanting to kill me, too, for the same reasons’ … There’s bound to be those times because we’re both human beings and we’re both strong personalities, but once again, I just say, ‘Lord, show me how to deal with this.’”
  • CM: “Well, her counselor training has helped her be more patient, of course the Lord helps her there to because she prays for patience.”
  • GM: “Yes, and he gave me Calvin.”

Valentines: Rick (47) & Silvia (44) Rodriguez, married for 20 years

  • First met: Church and the High Plains Christian Bookstore, 1996
  • First date: Ministering to gang members
  • Engaged: Two weeks after first meeting
  • Married:August 1997

  • Amarillo Globe-News: What was it that made each of you fall in love?
  • Silvia Rodriguez: “Specifically, I loved that he was in the ministry already. I love that he loved the Lord. I loved that he was praying for his wife for seven years and preparing himself. I would meet people and they would say, ‘We have prayed you in; Rick has prayed you in.’ It was a privilege to be the one he picked. It’s sweet.”
  • Rick Rodriguez: “What I loved about Silvia is she was so sincere with life and she knew what she wanted and she was an extrovert and I’m an introvert. So she helped round me out where the things that I didn’t feel comfortable in she was able to help pull me through those situations. And that she was hot. It didn’t matter what she was wearing or how she had looked, I loved her inner personality because she was sincere, she never put up a front. How she is today is exactly how she was when I first met her. She didn’t put up a front at all.”
  • AGN: Do you see couples who put up a façade when they first get together? What is the danger in that?
  • SR: “When people are putting up a façade and putting up a fake personality is because they’re not secure in who they are. It goes back to the individual, making sure they’re a whole person. In God’s math, a whole person and a whole person becomes one, but a half a person and a half a person, that’s just math. A half and a half is one, but a miracle, which is God’s math, which is a whole person who is completely secure in who they are and you take it or leave it and another person like that come together and make one, that’s God’s math … Those things you don’t think about because you think, ‘I can just live off love,’ but then real life comes and slams itself into your life and you’re not ready for it and then the real you comes out, and then that’s why I think marriages don’t survive. Because they just weren’t true to themselves, to who they were and then I think that’s the destruction that can come later.”
  • AGN: Is there a point to accept how your partner is, fundamentally? Or is there a point to change yourself or attempt to change your partner?
  • RR: “I don’t think you can necessarily change yourself for that person, for us, the true meaning of who we are is because we’re real. We’re transparent, with our friends, with our family members, they know who we are. I think it’s important that when you’re dating and when you’re involved with somebody that they know who you are.”
  • SR: “I know, that I know, that I cannot change Rick. I can manipulate it, but who wants to do that? … Most of the time it’s really God working on me and to meet Rick halfway and to meet him where he’s at and I don’t always have to be right. We’re going to be disappointed, that’s just the truth. It’s not going to be perfect. I’m going to disappoint Rick a lot, and he’s going to disappoint me. But the truth of the matter is I adore his face off and I’m going to do whatever I have to do, me myself, to make sure there’s a change in our marriage — not me trying to make him into somebody I want him to be, that just doesn’t work. There has to be a true heart change for somebody to say, ‘Man, I messed this up,’ and not having somebody say to you, ‘You messed this up.’”
  • AGN: What is a practical key to overcoming frustration or disagreements and making a relationship last?
  • SR: “Young couples need to have mentors that are committed to their marriages that aren’t at work talking… they need to spot a person that’s making it happen and they need to go and get mentored by those people – in every season. We had great mentors when we first got married, then we had kids and another mentor came into our life and now we have teenagers and I need a lot of mentors right now.”
  • RR: “We have to have a date night at least once a week.”
  • SR: “And listen, a date night for us whenever you’re crazy, when you’re schedule was crazy, a date night to Rick and I is going to Sam’s. Let’s just keep it real, we’ve got to go to Sam’s and we kind of like Sam’s because they have samples and stuff and I could be in Sam’s for like two hours and he’s with me, too, and we’re laughing and having fun and dreaming.”
  • RR: “Being intimate doesn’t mean being intimate for us. It means sharing ourselves. There’s times that we’ve laid in bed and we’re just talking to each other and the intimacy that is created there within our marriage bed is so intense that it sticks, it stays. For Silvia and I, we just love to dream and see where God’s going to take us and there’s no bounds.”

Valentines: Ryan Land (21) & Marlee Wall (20); dating two years

  • First met: Mutual friends, 2015
  • First date: Chipotle with friends on Valentine’s Day 2015
  • Amarillo Globe-News: What was it that made each of you fall in love?
  • Ryan Land:“She’s beautiful, No. 1, but she’s very, very talented and she’s just the sweetest, kindest person in any given room. Most theater people are very loud and outgoing but Marlee is very soft spoken, but what she says is important and it’s always really insightful.”
  • Marlee Wall:“He’s kind to absolutely everyone he meets, even strangers, and he’s never met a stranger. He will talk to absolutely anyone, which is a quality I really admire, and he also has a joke for every situation. I don’t think I go an hour without laughing.”
  • AGN: Do you see couples who put up a façade when they first get together? What is the danger in that?
  • MW: “I think everyone is a little bit guilty of it especially when you’re first starting to get to know someone cause you really want to connect with them and you want them to stay interested, but as time goes on, you can’t continue to keep up a façade. Everything comes out on the table at some point.”
  • AGN:Is there a point to accept how your partner is, fundamentally? Or is there a point to change yourself or attempt to change your partner?
  • RL: “We actually talk about this a lot that we fell in love with the person we fell in love with so we don’t want to change who the other person is, we want to love each other for our faults and for our gains. One thing we always say is we are going to fight, fighting is inevitable in a relationship so who do you enjoy fighting the most with? Who do you want to fight with for the rest of your life? That’s what I say is we don’t want to change people. Sure we’ll sacrifice some comfort or something we want to do for each other, or something we have an opinion on, we’ll sacrifice those things to avoid a fight if need be, but if it’s something fundamental that we may fight over, we can agree to disagree and be okay with that.”
  • AGN: What is a practical key to overcoming frustration or disagreements and making a relationship last?
  • RL: “Just kiss a lot.”
  • MW: “No. Really just as cliché as it sounds, you just have to listen and talk it out rather than get upset and let it linger. You just have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see where they’re coming from, first and foremost, because you love this person, you know they’re not just being unreasonable to be unreasonable.”
  • RL: “It’s important to listen to what they’re saying and not to plan what you’re going to say next.”

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