In first grade, I told my mom I was going to marry Karl.

In high school, Karl decided he just had to date Faye. Friends told him, “Good luck!” as the daughter of the school’s guidance counselor was NOT allowed to date. Karl was persistent in winning over both Faye and her mother. The couple never looked back after that first date.

Both are quick to acknowledge their experience is rare and has not been without challenge. Faye and Karl have known each other almost their entire lives and have been a couple since they were 15 and 16 respectively. They have navigated almost every developmental and life challenge or transition imaginable. They have a love and a connection that has deepened and matured throughout their years together — one that has taught them much.

Hear them talk about their early days and how they keep their love strong in this video.

Faye and KarlGetting married in your early twenties was quite fun for these high school sweethearts. They enjoyed life in the Washington DC area where Faye attended Howard University. Karl worked hard as a Baltimore City police officer (he moved there to live with a family member once Faye started at Howard… he knew he couldn’t be away from her!). As much as they enjoyed their life in the city, both knew it would be better to move back home to the Hampton Roads area where both would be closer to their families.

Shortly after moving from the city, the couple learned they were pregnant. Those first years as parents were difficult. They were parents when most of their friends weren’t (which is a really isolating experience). Both were working hard and Faye was in graduate school while trying to raise a child. In this time of challenge, they found newfound respect for one another’s gifts. Karl was at ease as a father. Their daughter enjoyed rides in daddy’s Corvette (who wouldn’t?). Faye found her love for Karl deepening as she witnessed what a great dad he was. The couple welcomed their son several years later (13 to be exact).

Both were open with the challenges of brokering roles as parents and partners. They strongly advised couples to be aware of how disagreements as parents can erode your relationship. They found open communication, respect and supporting one another as both parents and partners to help them navigate through the ups and downs of raising children. They get to use the skills they learned parenting with the two dogs and two dogs that now fill their house! They also enjoy their son who is back in the house with them.

Negotiating life as parents, workers, spouses and the other roles they held was joyous and challenging. Their lives changed significantly when Karl was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Karl and Faye struggled with his illness and the far-reaching implications it had on their lives. This significant change forced both to again re-evaluate their lives and work together to find a new path. As they have each time difficulty emerged, they found a way.

Karl credits his handiness (he and Faye showed me the incredibly beautiful work he has done both inside and outside of their home as his illness permits) and learning to just “let it go” with success in their marriage. Learning to “choose your battles” is something both say has gotten easier as they have gotten older.

Both also ask for help from one another or someone outside their relationship when they find a challenge they are unable to shoulder alone. They firmly believe that an objective outside opinion has helped them to evaluate their individual and collective roles in the difficulties they have faced together. This work has allowed them to grow stronger as both individuals and as a couple. They both also have learned to deal with conflict more effectively and more quickly than they did in their early years.

Throughout the years, their love, commitment and passion for each other grows. Faye had it right in first grade. We wonder if she knew what a journey that marriage would be. We wish them all the best as their love story continues to unfold.

Faye and Karl are the eighth couple featured in the 2013 Hot Healthy Love series. Read the previous love stories here:

Josh and Andrea

Andi and Claudia

Sarah and Amber

Marianna and Hutch

Jenn and Afton

Tiffany and Matthew

Learn more about how you can support healthy relationships by visiting our Healthy Love RVA page.