Happy Couples

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Meet three of Utah Valley’s most twitterpated twosomes who are dancing, skiing and dating their way through everyday life. 

Erin & Bobby Swenson, Cedar Hills

Newlyweds Erin and Bobby Swenson share athletic interests year-round. They have been married for 8 months. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

Newlyweds Erin and Bobby Swenson share athletic interests year-round. They have been married for 8 months. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

By Emily James

Erin and Bobby Swenson want to do it all, and they want to do it together.

The couple met in summer 2008 and were married August 2009. A cousin unintentionally crashed Bobby and Erin’s first date at Sushi Ya in Orem, and he now takes full credit for the Swensons’ marital success.

When they first met, Erin was working at Telos, a treatment center for teens, and Bobby began working there shortly thereafter.

They now work together at the Hale Center Theater in Orem where Bobby builds sets and Erin, who grew up dancing at various studios in Utah County, teaches dance classes.

Humble about their individual accomplishments, they love to brag about each other.

“He’s really creative,” Erin says. “He was cast as the dentist in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ this past fall.”

But Bobby was not about to let his wife get away without praise of her own.

“Did she mention she started the dance program?” he asked. “She doesn’t just teach there. She started it all.”

The pair also shares a common interest in triathlons. Erin competes in XTERRA triathlons, which involve off-road expertise.

After winning nationals in September in her age group, Erin went to Maui to compete in worlds in October. She placed sixth in her division, with her husband cheering her on every stroke and step along the way.

Although the couple loved Hawaii, they also enjoy exploring places close to home. After a honeymoon in Sun Valley, the pair spent time exploring Moab and relaxing at Bobby’s family ranch near Capitol Reef National Park.

They hope to visit Italy one day and are excited to try the food there, especially Bobby who is the family’s head chef.

“He is amazing at cooking,” Erin says. “He comes up with the best dishes. I try to repeat what he does but I usually end up burning it or it doesn’t taste right.”

The family dinner table also includes Fletch (named for — you guessed it — the movie), who is Bobby’s Italian Mastiff that Erin become “mom” to when they married. The couple recently purchased a pair of snow boots for the four paws of the gigantic dog, who likes to keep Erin and Bobby company when snowshoeing around Utah Valley.

The Swensons stay happy by being active and keeping open communication.

“We make sure we talk about everything,” Bobby says. “Everything is on the table. And we hash it out.”

Although they have been married less than a year, Erin has advice for couples thinking about tying the knot.

“Make sure you are honest with each other,” Erin advises. “And just get to know each other.  And, lastly, always have fun.”

Steve and Dianne Miller, Alpine

By Kimerberly Christenson

Steve and Dianne have a blended family of 10 children and 18 grandchildren. They have been married for 8 years. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

Steve and Dianne have a blended family of 10 children and 18 grandchildren. They have been married for 8 years. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

When Steve Miller first saw Dianne Whitelock, he wanted to ask her out but thought she was way out of his league. Now, almost 40 years later, they are the best of teammates.

Steve and Dianne met when Steve was in the University of Utah’s Air Force ROTC and Dianne was in the ROTC’s support group — Angel Flight.

“I used to watch her walk down the hall and think, ‘Woah, would I love to ask her out!’” Steve says. “I almost asked her to a dance, but chickened out at the last minute.”

Their paths wouldn’t cross again until 30 years later at an Angel Flight reunion. They say they were too shy to talk much at the reunion, but they started e-mailing each other soon after.

“You really get to know someone when you’re just writing to each other like we were,” Dianne says. “I really got to know Steve’s heart.”

Dianne, who is a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, invited Steve to a concert in Fort Worth, Texas, where Steve was working as a programs manager for Rockwell Collins, a leading manufacturer of communication and aviation electronics for government and commercial companies. Steve was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had never been to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert, so he figured getting tickets would be easy. But when he called, they were sold out. After a few desperate attempts, someone turned their ticket in and Steve was able to go.

“That concert changed my life,” Steve says. “I knew I would join the church and marry Dianne someday.”

About a week later, Steve flew to Orlando to see another Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert. Afterwards, Dianne left a message on Steve’s phone saying, “Let’s go play!” (Which would become the couple’s motto.) Steve and Dianne spent the next day “playing” together at Disney World. That night, Steve told Dianne he was falling in love with her.

Within five months, Steve was baptized into the LDS Church, and he and Dianne got married. Steve didn’t think twice about leaving his lucrative job in Forth Worth to join his wife in Alpine.

“I was given a gift that I never believed I would deserve or ever have,” Steve says. “Sometimes I look at her and say, ‘I married Dianne Whitelock. Can you believe that?’”

Now, both Steve and Dianne are teachers. Steve is in his fourth year as a science teacher at American Heritage School in Pleasant Grove, and Dianne is in her 17th year as a music teacher at Shelley Elementary in American Fork.

“Everywhere we go, we’re greeted with an excited ‘Mrs. Miller!’” Steve says. “It’s like being married to the American Fork Chamber of Commerce.”

One of the best parts of being teachers, Steve and Dianne say, is the time they get to spend together.

“We wanted the same schedules, so we’re both teachers,” Dianne says. “We get summers off, so we take off.”

Between trips with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their own vacations, these adventure-seekers have visited more than 30 states together.

“We are prone to simply pick up and hit the road when the opportunity arises,” Steve says. “We seldom plan exact routes or make reservations, because we enjoy the spontaneity of heading a different direction because it looks fun.”

Their all-time favorite vacation spot is the Vandenberg Air Force Base just north of Santa Barbara.

“There are 32 miles of Air Force coastline, so on that beach, the only footsteps are ours,” Steve says.

Although Steve and Dianne got married at 55, their love would put plenty of 20-something newlyweds to shame.

“We decided since we took so long to get together, we want to make up for it by spending all the time together we can,” Dianne says. “So we do.”

And they manage to do that, even with a blended family of 10 children and 18 grandchildren to keep up with.

“My kids call Steve ‘Dad,’” Dianne says with tear-filled eyes. “Before we were married, I spent 18 years trying to deal with an abusive husband while raising eight children. I didn’t think I’d live through it, and I didn’t care if I did. But love can heal wounds. Now that I’m with Steve, I have my confidence back.”

“The girl I married was very fragile,” Steve says. “My purpose is to heal her, care for her and love her. I jokingly call myself her ‘Prince protector.’”

One of the ways Steve and Dianne express their love for each other is through love notes they leave on a stuffed monkey on their bed. Steve also likes to surprise Dianne with presents.

“Last year, he bought a car for my birthday,” Dianne says.

Between the surprises, trips and daily expression of heartfelt love for each other, Steve and Dianne have built a marriage to last. And although Steve still feels like Dianne is out of his league, he tries to win her heart every day.

“I pretty much ask her to marry me every day,” Steve says. “The answer has always been ‘yes,’ but if she ever says ‘no,’ I’ll know I have to do something about it.»

Mark and Robyn Bretzing, Orem

Mark and Robyn Bretzing’s lives are full of four sons, dancing, soccer and dating. They have been married for 18 years. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

Mark and Robyn Bretzing’s lives are full of four sons, dancing, soccer and dating. They have been married for 18 years. (Photo by David Blackhurst)

By Kimberly Christenson

For Mark and Robyn Bretzing, life’s a dance. Whether it’s dancing the night away at The Dance Club in Orem or holding their own dance party in the kitchen with their four sons, dancing is their all-time favorite family activity. After all, it was dancing that brought them together in the first place.

Mark and Robyn were introduced by a mutual friend at The Palace — a dance club that used to be on 9th East in Provo. Mark had sworn off girls, and Robyn was almost engaged. But when Mark cut in and asked Robyn to dance, they both felt the chemistry.

“She had an energy about her,” Mark says. “She had a great smile and bright eyes. It wasn’t hard to have a conversation with her.”

Robyn was impressed with Mark’s dancing skills and wanted to spend a little more time with him, so she asked for a ride home — secretly knowing she had driven to The Palace herself.

Had Mark known she was interested, he wouldn’t have felt so discouraged after calling Robyn for the next two days and not getting a call back — especially when he had canceled two dates that weekend in hopes of taking her out.

But on the third day, the call back finally came. Although Robyn’s invitation to attend a 7 a.m. LDS sacrament meeting at the Utah State Hospital in Provo was not what he expected to be their first official date, he obliged. He knew better than to pass up a date — any kind of date — with a girl like Robyn.

And despite being proposed to by three different men while she was dating Mark, Robyn knew a good thing when she saw it.

After dates and dancing, Mark and Robyn tied the knot. And even though they’ve been married for 18 years, they feel like they met just yesterday.

“When we look at where we were then and where we are now, it’s 10 times better,” Mark says. “Our love grows stronger every year.”

Their secret?

Always doing what makes the other person happy. For Mark, that means making sure Robyn gets her 15 minutes of mandatory “snuggle time” every day. For Robyn, it means giving Mark his “Mark time.”

“I love to take her out,” Mark says. “We have date night every week — sometimes twice a week. I love to do things with just us, even if it’s as simple as dinner and a movie.”

By night, Mark is a sergeant with the Salt Lake City International Airport Police Department. But by day, he can be found happily doing the laundry, the dishes or baking bread for the neighbors while Robyn works as the physical education specialist for Alpine School District and a physical education teacher at Timpanogos High School.

Robyn has received numerous Teacher of the Year awards and was runner up for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AHPERD) National Teacher of the Year for drastically improving physical education curriculum.

But her achievements don’t stop there. After playing soccer for BYU and the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team, Robyn founded the Celtic Storm, Utah Valley’s premiere soccer club for girls, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Utah Soccer Hall of Fame.
But Robyn knows none of those things would have been possible without Mark’s help.

“I’ve always been pulled a lot of directions with teaching and coaching,” Robyn says. “And Mark has never complained about being home or helping when I’m busy.”

When they’re not busy, Mark and Robyn love to go snowboarding, skiing, wakeboarding, wave running or camping as a family. But Robyn hasn’t always been a fan of outdoor sports.

“My dad is afraid of water,” Robyn says. “All the outdoors stuff was a fear for me. I had to learn to like what he did.”

And Mark has had to do some compromising of his own.

“I wasn’t used to the commitment involved with soccer,” Mark says. “I played in junior high but wasn’t that into it. Now I am fully indoctrinated into soccer — I feel like I could coach.”

But what they won’t compromise is putting each other first.

“We always stay involved in each other’s lives,” Robyn says. “We’ve supported each other in whatever we’ve done. Too many times you get involved in things that are separate from each other.”

So when Mark and Robyn were given the advice to remember what brought them together as newlyweds, they looked at each other and said, “Dancing.”

And even though they don’t claim to have a perfect marriage, their goal to stay involved in each other’s lives has kept their marriage strong.

“We’re not perfect,” Mark says. “What I do know is I can’t imagine what life would be like without Robyn, so we’ll work through whatever comes at us because it’s worth it. We have four beautiful boys, and we’re trying to set an example for them to follow. Robyn’s parents have been married for more than 50 years, and we hope when our kids grow up, they’ll follow our example and work on their marriages.”

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Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at talkingwordy.com.

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