After a marriage of 28 years, Bob and Celeste Kling know how to keep love growing.
Bob, an economics professor, and his wife Celeste, a human development and family studies instructor, started as friends at freshmen orientation at Davidson College in North Carolina and have kept each other’s interest ever since.
It was during their advanced French class freshman year that Bob and Celeste were assigned to work together in a group project.
“Bob had the best accent in our French class,” Celeste said.
Immediately charmed by one another, they maintained a friendship with some casual group dating along the way.
“It was a little college in the middle of nowhere so dates were like homecoming,” Bob said.
A few girls in Celeste’s hall all thought they were going to be asked to the university’s homecoming dance, but it was Celeste who caught Bob’s attention.
They went to homecoming, then later occupied time together doing stuff around campus during the school year.
Ready to take on a new adventure away from their everyday campus life, Bob and Celeste decided to take on an adventure across seas. Both nearly fluent in French, they decided to study abroad together for one year in France, where they ignited a new spark and their relationship headed toward a “’til death do us part” kind of commitment.
“We took the train across the Spanish border and got off in the first town,” Bob said.
Somehow escaping border control, they put their passports in their backpacks and hiked up over the Pyrenees.
“We hiked back into France and there was the Mediterranean down below,” Celeste said.
They set up their tent where the Pyrenees drop straight into the Mediterranean. Bob proposed and Celeste accepted even though she had never expected to commit so young.
“We have never regretted it even though we were extraordinarily young,” she said.
They relayed the news to their families but kept the proposal a secret while in France, so their friends wouldn’t treat them differently.
Once they got back to the U.S. and graduated from college, Bob and Celeste tied the knot. They married the Saturday before Thanksgiving and then headed for a brand new Mexican resort in Cancun.Not long after, when Bob and Celeste were 24, they had their first boy. A few years later they had their second son. Once the boys turned 4 and 8, the Klings spared no time in returning to France for a one-year sabbatical trip of a lifetime.
“It was definitely just full of lots and lots of moments and those pictures that get fixed in your mind. We lived in a little village in the south of France and the boys were in the local school around the corner. We did lots of weekend trips,” Bob said.
Raising their kids, Bob and Celeste say, has been wonderful and one of the great pleasures of life.
“They have grown up to be really super adults. It’s fun to be in the new stage of that relationship,” Celeste said.
Their boys are now 20 and 24, and both are fluent in French. Bob and Celeste believe that from their relationship, their boys have come to understand some critical elements needed in a relationship. For any couple to survive, Bob and Celeste think empathy and adjusting together with growth is critical.
“It’s really helpful to get in the other person’s head so you can see things from two perspectives as you go through everything,” Bob said.
“The truth is it is really easy and really fun to be married if you choose the right person in the beginning and pull together through the process,” Celeste said. “You have to keep working all the way through.”
“Especially if you marry young you change as you grow up and you have to keep adapting to that,” Bob said.
They are quick to point out the other’s attributes and maintain positive regard.
“Bob’s a great cook,” Celeste said. “So we have lots of romantic dinners now that we are empty nesters.”
Their pet peeves are only as far reaching as Bob not liking Celeste’s hand writing and Celeste getting frustrated when Bob puts her car in forward instead of reverse when he parks it in the garage.
Bob and Celeste empower and support each other and seem to constantly remind each other of their adoration for one another.
Senior reporter Kaeli West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.