Three El Dorado couples tell of how they met and their secrets to a successful marriage.

Two weeks of dating leads to 22 years of marriage

For Mike Richey, it was love at first sight, although the first date with Denise didn’t work out quite as he had planned.

They first met when Denise was working at Braums in El Dorado when she was 15 years old. Mike went through the drive thru and offered her a ride home.

The problem was he never showed up to take her home.

“I got stood up that night because he got grounded for being out so late,” Denise said. “I really didn’t think much of it because I’d never met him before.”

Mike returned to Braums the next evening with his mother and pointed Denise out to her and told her Denise was the girl he was going to marry some day.

“I didn’t learn until after we were married that he had come back the next day,” she said.

Mike asked to take her home because she was nice and had a good personality, as well as being cute.

“He was really good looking and he still is, and he had a Camaro and I was into those sports cars back then,” Denise said.

Denise didn’t see Mike again until she was 18 years old. She had moved to Missouri for a couple of years before coming back to Kansas.

She was actually dating his friend at the time and when she called to talk to his friend he was out, so she ended up talking to Mike.

“The night we got together, he proposed to me,” she said.

They dated for a week before Mike left for boot camp. They were married two weeks after he returned from Army boot camp.

“God blessed us,” Denise said. “Most people who get married so young and not knowing each other don’t make it.”

She said she has seen a lot of her friends’ marriages not work out.

They agreed the secret to their successful marriage of 22 years has been communication.

“If you set down and talk with someone with respect,” she said. I think communication and trust is huge. You have to have a sense of humor.

“It is amazing how things change as you get older and what real love is and how to stick together,” she continued. “I think it just gets better with age and hopefully we have a long time to go.”

“It’s not so much two individuals meeting in the middle on a lot of different aspects,” Mike said. “You have to be in the middle on everything, so it’s balanced out.”

“He has given me the best years of my life, and we love each other more every day,” Denise said.

Cynthia Walton tells of caring husband

Cynthia Walton is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. She’s been married and divorced three times because of the addictions and abuse. When she cleaned up on July 2, 1998, she took the step to take care of myself and avoid men. Cynthia moved to Andover, got her own place and worked two jobs to keep busy. Working 15 hours a day, she had no time for anything but work and sleep. 

Every morning when she would go to her car, her upstairs neighbor, Dan, would be on his way to work also. One day Dan came to her car and introduced himself.

“We always said hi to each other every morning after that,” she said. “A few months later he invited me to go swimming in the pool at our complex.” 

She quit her part-time job to be with Dan more.

“Next thing I knew, we were going for walks, rides, and eventually to movies and dinner,” she said.

After telling him about her past, Dan stayed by her side. On Feb. 9, 2000, he invited her to an Elton John concert, where he proposed.

During this time, she had been having severe pain in her hip. An MRI showed her disc was protruded. The insurance she had would not allow surgery until she had completed a series of epidurals, one once a month for three months. The epidurals did not work. 

By the time she was able to have surgery, she was unable to do anything for herself because of the pain. 

“Dan would come down to my apartment every morning and get me dressed and into a recliner, then in the evenings he would do the reverse,” she said. “He took care of me until I had surgery and could care for myself and then he still continued to care for me.”

In April of 2000, Dan bought them a home in El Dorado. Dan moved her to their new home and kept his apartment in Andover until their wedding day, Oct. 7, 2000.

Dan then  talked her into quitting her job, which caused her back problems, by offering to put her through school. She attended school for one and a half years, then left to help care for her grandson, who lived with them for several months. 

“We have been married for 12 years and Dan has not changed,” Cynthia said. “He treats me the same today as the day we met. Dan has made sure that I have everything I need and most everything that I want. He helped me to start my own business to keep me from working a job that will reinjure my back. He helps my children when they are in need and spends time educating my grandchildren. But as far as they know, they are just out having a good time “

This last year, despite her working conditions, she had two more back surgeries: a discectomy and then a fusion. Since then, Dan has done most of the housework and cooking without complaint.

“Dan has become my best friend,” she said. “Learning to care for myself and changing my lifestyle brought me the right man.”

Castlemans tell of meeting at State Fair

Thirty-one years ago Patricia and Walt Castleman met at the State Fair for a blind date.

“My cousin, Mary Lou, she had a neighbor boy, as she put it, that she wanted me to meet, so she set up the blind date at the Kansas State Fair,” Patricia said.

Because their families were camping at the Fair they got to spend time together all weekend. They spent that time walking around and looking at things, as well as taking turns pushing her older brother around who had hurt his leg and was in a wheelchair.

After that, Walt asked if he could see Patricia again and she said yes.

“He was a blond, curly headed farm boy,” she recalled.

A year later they were getting married.

“He proposed to me by writing a song and playing it on his guitar,” Patricia said.

The success of their 30-year marriage, Patricia said, is communication.

“You always need to communicate and you never try to separate, go to bed or leave if you are really angry with the other one,” she said.

Patricia’s favorite memories of their marriage are the birth of all of their children.

“I’m glad that I met him because now I have three wonderful sons and two grandchildren, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” she said.