Dale Dean’s high school band teacher suggested he try learning to play the French horn one summer. Little did he know how many ways that choice would impact his life… including leading him to his wife Shela.

The Native Californians living in the San Francisco Bay area had unknowingly crossed paths many times. A mutual friend who was in orchestra with Dale thought they should meet. Dale didn’t like the idea of a set-up so the friend had to work covertly (and persistently)!

He kept arranging for them to meet (a party, a dinner…) but they never seemed to show up at the same time in the same place. A year and a half later, they finally met. They hit it off but Dale didn’t call Shela after their meeting.

A few months later, a different mutual friend asked Dale about Shela. He smiled and recalled how fun she was when they met. A date was set and “the rest is history.”

Over time, Shela and Dale came to realize how closely connected their lives were… it seems they were bound to meet… eventually! These connections facilitated their meeting and have supported their relationship.

The couple had an idyllic life in the Bay area until a series of setbacks caused significant financial hardship. They decided they needed a change… so they packed up their things and moved to Richmond. Friends questioned their decision.

That questioning continued when the couple bought their “fixer upper.” What started as minor renovations became a three year full-blown, life-disrupting renovation project (and, at times, nightmare) that tested the couple’s patience and disrupted their routine.

Dale is a magnificent cook (except of eggplant — the couple share a mutual disdain for the vegetable) and part of their routine is to spend time together as Dale prepared dinner and linger over the meal chatting and reconnecting. That’s really hard to do when your house is in disarray and you work with a makeshift kitchen (think microwave and hotplate) for 7 months. The couple lost this important routine and started to lose part of their magic.

The couple needed to address the crisis that led to their move and adjust to their new city (you know, since Richmond is a little different than San Francisco) — all while living in a house that failed to provide the comfort they needed. Dale and Shela were at a critical point in their relationship.

Both began making conscious efforts to reconnect and regain the intimacy that had typically characterized their relationship. About that time, Shela began to write a book (Frequent Foreplay Miles: Your Ticket to Total Intimacy) about their philosophy of marriage which sustained them during their hardships.  The concept: be kind, thoughtful and sweet to one another — gaining as many miles (frequent foreplay) as you can while losing as few as possible.

It worked. The couple regained what began to falter and keep going strong (their beautiful new kitchen and completed renovations don’t hurt either). They purposely spend time every day connecting and celebrating the love they have.

this relationship has given me the chance to see the world through more generous eyes

The couple enjoy time with Shela’s daughter who has since relocated to Richmond and their wonderful grandchildren. They are doting grandparents, an unexpected and life-transforming gift for Dale. Spending time with them has opened up a new world for him. It also compels him to share his talents in volunteer efforts involving music and gardening with youth.

Each night, they enjoy time together with Dale cooking and Shela and Dale chatting and catching up. Shela can’t wait to walk in and see Dale. The couple discuss the importance of routine check-in in this video.

This article is published on Shela and Dale’s 13th wedding anniversary: February 20 (the couple were married in 1999 after meeting in 1996). Congratulations! We wish you many more years of happiness.

Coming Thursday, February 23 in the Hot Healthy Love series —

Charlie and Denis:  Shared Values, Strong Love (and Enough Differences to Keep it Interesting)

Previous Love Stories:

April and Joe

Alice and Calvin

John and Julie

Lisa and Dorothy

Nicole and Rodney

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