Paxmans support each other and the community

By utahvalley360.com

Monroe Paxman called a girl for a date when he was in high school. She said, “I already have a date, but I’ll let you talk to my sister Shirley. She doesn’t have a date.”

That was about 70 years ago, and Monroe and Shirley Paxman have spent their lives together raising seven children, fighting for community causes and traveling the world.

“Shirley told me that of our 62 years of marriage, those have been the happiest 52 years of her life,” Monroe says.

“No, the happiest 50 years,” Shirley quips.

Humor is one of the keys to happiness for this couple of 85-year-olds who walk about 10 blocks to BYU’s campus several times a week for lectures and concerts. Education is important to both of them. In fact, they dated for several years while both pursued school and careers. Shirley was training to be a nurse in Salt Lake City while Monroe was in Kansas working.

“She prepared me a lovely scrapbook of our history up to that point and sent it to me as a gift,” he says. “That made me realize she was serious about us, and I already was.”

The couple married in 1942.

“The best thing about our marriage is that it has always been supportive,” Shirley says.

Monroe says it has been easy to support Shirley because of her initiative, energy and creativity.

“Every holiday has special decor, and our home is always a fun place to be,” he says.

The couple takes issue with the idea that you should marry someone with common interests.

“I was never interested in dolls, but after helping Shirley run the doll museum for 25 years, I found it very interesting,” Monroe says. “I learned to repair dolls, and I enjoyed that. Shirley has done similarly in things I had an interest in. We’ve developed a lot more common interests than we started out with.”

Shirley says their differences have been a blessing to their marriage. Monroe is slow to speak and slow to act, but he is firm when he’s made up his mind. Shirley thinks and speaks faster, but their different approaches have created balance.

When disagreements arise, Shirley expresses herself verbally, while Monroe often writes his feelings down in a note.

“We create an area of agreement this way,” Monroe says.

The couple came to an agreement on how to raise children.

“We were quite rigid with our first children,” Shirley says. “We became more relaxed with the others because we learned children need a little more space. We finally learned that if we all had a clear understanding of what the rules were and why they were, it worked better. We let our children help set a reasonable time to come home and they helped decide the consequences if the rules were violated.”

Another family philosophy was to work hard and play hard.

“We honored work and we honored fun,” Monroe says.

The Paxmans wrote a family home evening book before the LDS Church had an official handbook on the practice. Their ideas were circulated at Education Week and at BYU. Deseret Book published their writings.

The Paxmans agree it is more difficult to raise children now with the pressures of drugs, pornography and peer pressure. But their parenting philosophies still ring true.

“It is important to give children responsibilities and appreciate it when they perform,” Shirley says.

Although money is often the root of marital demise, the Paxmans say money was never a priority for them.

“We’ve never been a wealthy family, but we’ve created a lot of wonderful experiences that weren’t expensive,” Shirley says.

Someone early in the Paxmans’ marriage advised Shirley to get her own bank account.

“This has been a blessing for us,” Monroe says. “She has been a great source of emergency money when we’ve had big bills come up. I would advise any husband to make sure the wife has some financial independence and doesn’t have to get permission to write a check ”

Monroe and Shirley’s relationship has changed since they finished raising their children, but they have stayed busy and alert throughout the stages of their lives by hosting national visitors for the U.S. State Department for the past 50 years. For example, one of the top secretariat members from the Pope came to visit. Shirley gave him a book of Pope paper dolls.

“He wrote a wonderful letter back saying how delighted the Pope was with the gift,” Monroe says.

Shirley’s outgoing personality and Monroe’s sense of humor and kind heart endear them to neighbors and community members. The two of them were on the front lines to save Academy Square. Now they are working on restoring the Carnegie Library in downtown Provo to be a Hispanic community center. The couple has coordinated the Carols by Candlelight for 25 years at the Community Church.

“Any day of the week you’ll see Shirley busily active with her drawers of file folders on any subject you can think of,” Monroe says. “She is a tremendous boon to our marriage because she is so vitally interested in so many things.”

Monroe has many interests, as well. His current hobbies include taking watercoloring classes at BYU and putting together family history books.

Monroe served as a judge for 16 years in the district juvenile court, overseeing five counties in Central Utah. He also taught law school at the University of Illinois, as well as at BYU for 12 years. He was connected with the University of Maryland’s overseas programs, which took the Paxmans for extended travels throughout the world.

“Shirley thanks me for giving her opportunities to see the places we’ve visited, and I thank her for the wonderful activities she’s brought into our lives,” Monroe says.

If the Paxmans could summarize how to have a successful marriage in one word it would be patience.

“We’ve both developed more of that over the years,” Monroe says. “We give each other room and time and space to think things out and work things out.”


Monroe and Shirley Paxman, PROVO 

Both age 85, married for 62 years

7 children, 25 grandchildren,

7 great-grandchildren


Advice for couples

• Always look at the long range

• Stay active in the senior years

• Give each other time and space

• The wife should have a separate bank account

• Develop interests together


Advice for raising kids

• Let the children help set the rules

• Let the children help set consequences for breaking the rules

• Work together and play together


Why do fools fall in love?

4 variables show who will fall in love – and stay there

A familiar song asks the age-old question, “Why do fools fall in love?” While the tune offers no explanation for the head-over-heels, floating-on-air feeling you get when you are in love, a well-known local psychologist says answers do exist.

Studying the elements that create affection between individuals can help explain why people fall in love and stay in love, says Dr. A. Lynn Scoresby, who has studied interpersonal attraction for 35 years. He recently developed an online relationship service that matches singles based on attraction and compatibility factors, called LDSpromise.com.

“Everybody pays a lot of attention to physical attraction, but it isn’t the most important variable in love,” Dr. Scoresby says.

According to Dr. Scoresby, the paramount features in lasting love are interpersonal warmth, cognitive pacing, synchrony and gender roles.

Here are some of Dr. Scoresby’s examples of these important love-struck qualities.

1. Interpersonal warmth

This is created by displays of affection and tenderness between two individuals, such as hugging and kissing.

2. Cognitive pacing

This basically means that your brain functions similarly to your sweetheart’s brain. For example, you appreciate similar forms of humor and usually laugh at the same jokes.

3. Synchrony

In its most basic form, synchrony is the art of timing — saying hello when your mate says hello, giving a smile for a smile and returning a phone call.

4. Gender roles

It is no surprise that gender roles are an area of stark contrasts. Men and women communicate and receive love in opposite ways because they have different needs.

Women tend to assume responsibility for a relationship, and its success means everything to them. Women value tenderness, kindness, protection and attention. Women want the man in their life to say, “Our relationship is the most important thing in my life.” Women love to be showered with affection and appreciate impromptu gifts.

Men value approval. They want the woman in their life to say, “I am grateful for what you do and who you are.”

These four characteristics are often found in loving companionships, but the role each characteristic plays will differ from relationship to relationship because people are compatible in different ways, Dr. Scoresby says.

The bottom line?

Couples should nurture characteristics like affection and appreciation for gender roles, but they also should not undermine the value of unique differences.

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