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Lasting, Local Love

What makes a marriage work? Two couples from Boden Senior Living share their experience.

Article by Shannon Hofer-Pottala

Photography by Lisa Cline

Originally published in Eagan City Lifestyle

Love is on the brain this February, but what makes a marriage last? How do couples grow in love instead of falling out of it? Don't take my advice—take it from the couples below.

THE START OF ROMANCE

Lee & Mary Lou

Lee and Mary Lou Lindberg have been married for 71 years. They met when Mary Lou was 18 and had just moved out of her parent's house to begin her training as a nurse. That's when Lee and Mary Lou's love story gets a little unconventional.

"At the time, I was dating another boy, Jack," says Mary Lou. "Lee had a date with my roommate, Jeanette."

After their dates with Jack and Jeanette, Lee and Mary Lou knew they were meant to be with each other. "Next time, Lee said he wanted to date me instead of her. He decided he liked me better," says Mary Lou. "My date must've been alright with it because he went along with it."

"Jeanette wasn't my type," Lee says. "Mary Lou and I knew a good thing when we saw it."

Their first date was at a restaurant in Nebraska. "It was a place, nothing fancy," says Mary Lou. "It was the local place to go."

Over dinner, the pair realized how well they worked together and how much they enjoyed each other's company. "Lee can keep a conversation going," says Mary Lou. "He likes to tell jokes. He's the funny guy."

"I liked her and I grew to love her," says Lee. "She's a lovely lady and a kind person. Very kind—she took me in, after all."

Don & Sally

Don DeBoer and Sally Neiley have been together for over 23 years. Don and Sally were first introduced by a friend of Sally's. 

For their first date, Don and Sally watched a Vikings game and enjoyed pizza together. Sally's spunk attracted Don right away, and their date gave them the opportunity to get to know one another.

With good conversation and good food, Don and Sally were drawn to each other and decided to continue spending time together. After the date, Don told his daughter, "I'm going to marry that woman." And he did.

"Don is a good father, good husband, and a good man," says Sally.

"Sally is how I know God loves me," says Don.

GROWING UP AND GROWING OLD TOGETHER

Lee & Mary Lou

Once Lee and Mary Lou knew they were right for each other, they decided to get married. "I don't know that I ever really proposed," says Lee. "Didn't I say, 'Let's get hitched?' And then we did."

Over the course of their marriage, Lee and Mary Lou raised a family together. "Lee was an excellent father," says Mary Lou. "He would take the time to show them how to do things. He was a good dad. He still is."

"Mary Lou is kind and understanding," says Lee. "We've had a wonderful life together."

Lee and Mary Lou enjoy traveling together. "We took a couple of cruises and we liked camping," says Mary Lou. "We took the kids to the Black Hills and we'd camp out sometimes in the camper. We had a pull camper."

However, Lee's favorite trip wasn't a cruise or a campground. "My favorite was the trip to the altar," he says. 

Arguments come up in any relationship, and working through them together keeps love alive. "Mary Lou's very kind in that regard," says Lee. "She lets me think I win."

Don & Sally

Don and Sally knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with each other. They got married in the backyard of the house they would live in together for 20 years.

Don and Sally love spending time together. In addition to watching the Vikings, "We like golfing," says Sally. "I'm better, of course." Sally golfed before meeting Don and introduced him to the game. Don is an advanced golfer himself. 

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what activity they do, as long as it involves spending time with each other.

"Don makes anything fun," says Sally.

"We do everything together," says Don. "We have a great time together."

To resolve disagreements, Don and Sally believe in forgiving and forgetting. "We've never had an argument, or if we have, I can't remember it," says Don.

THEIR LOVE, TODAY

Lee & Mary-Lou

"Mary Lou is a good woman," says Lee. "I fell in love with her and I still am in love with her. Pretty obvious, isn't it? I love her with all my heart."

"We've been fortunate in many ways," says Mary Lou. "He's a good man."

That's Mary Lou's advice to the next generation of lovebirds, too. "Marry a good woman. Marry a good man."

"Someone who has a good heart and is generous," says Lee. "That's who you want to spend your life with."

Don & Sally

Don and Sally treasure every moment together. "We're meant to be," Sally says.

"We just love each other," Don says. 

Don and Sally have a few words of advice for the younger crowd, too. "Find someone you like, someone you can spend time with," says Sally. "You'll spend a lot of time together."

Boden Senior Living supports seniors with various needs, from assisted living to memory care. To see if Boden is a good fit for you or for a senior you know, visit bodenseniorliving.com.