Last Wednesday night Huden’s Alumni Room played host to what Amy Bremmel called her favorite night of the year.
Bremel is the coordinator for Castleton’s CHANGE initiative. CHANGE stands for creating, honoring, advocating and nurturing gender equality, and with the help of Martha Coulter, Director of Wellness Center, they presented the fourth annual “Every Couple has a Story” event.
This included a panel of six couples from the Castleton community, all in different stages of their relationships and all miraculously making the magical unicorn that is a healthy and functional relationship a reality.
“I saw Meghan and that was it,” Sam Green, Media Specialist at Castleton, said of her wife, Meghan Doherty. Doherty was a freshman and Green was her student orientation staff leader, so at the time they couldn’t be together.
They spent years as just friends before Green worked up the courage to, as she put it, “get over myself and make the move.” They’ve now been married for almost three years and as Green put it, “It’s pretty cool.”
Alum Matt Trombley and student Sammy Pike might be a younger couple, but their history is just as long, if not longer.
“We met…forever ago. Fourth grade,” Trombley said as a collective awww emanated from the audience. “We didn’t start dating then. Don’t freak out,” he added.
In eighth grade Trombley and Pike began dating.
“I asked her out over MySpace. That tells you how long ago it was, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Castleton students Ashlie Czelatka and Adam Olio met in band here at Castleton. They’ve been together for four and a half years and are now engaged.
Professor Anne Slonaker and Professor Brad Slonaker met when Brad visited Anne’s college, and they’ve now been married for what they think is 32 years, but it could be 37. That’s up for debate.
Chemistry Professor Andy Vermilyea and his wife Hillary Easter took a while to realize they we’re meant to be together. They were best friends for years before the realization hit them.
Football coach Kevin Trigonis and wife Tessa have a classic 21st century love story. They met in a bar. The couple was married in August and is expecting their first child in July.
So what’s the point of listening to a bunch of mushy love stories?
Bremmel and Coulter feel it is important to provide students examples of healthy relationships. Many students don’t those types of role models to look up to, so they believe seeing true love, respect, support and loyalty in real life and not a dramatization in a romantic comedy is a very valuable thing.
There was a reoccurring theme for each of the couples and it was true friendship. Every couple was best friends. Either they started out that way and grew into something more, or they started with attraction and cultivated a real friendship. Either way, each couple believes it’s necessary for a healthy relationship.
“When I realized I was going to be with Sam forever was pretty much when we became best friends,” Trombley said.
Brad called friendship a pre requisite.
“We want to hang out!” he said with enthusiasm.
You might assume that all these people grew up witnessing great examples of healthy relationships, but that’s not the case.
Some have parents who are so in love and have been together for what seems like forever. Some don’t, but that didn’t impact their ability to have a healthy relationship of their own.
Czelatka doesn’t know who her real father is. She loves her mother, but there were a lot of male figures in and out of the picture, so she looked to her grandparents for an example of true love.
“They’re everything to me, and their relationship means so much to me,” she said. “Just seeing how much love they have for each other…my grandpa will go over to my grandmother and just randomly say ‘I love you’ for no reason,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion and her eyes welling with tears of respect.
Whether it was what to do or what not to do, each couple drew inspiration from the people in their lives.
There was one question everyone wanted to know the answer to. How do you keep that initial fireworks stage going?
Most answers were things like; it’s the little things that keep the spark alive. Trigonis emphasized the importance of communication in the bedroom, saying that you’ll both be much happier if you each know what the other wants.
“I mean…you can tell we were active,” he said gesturing to his wife’s pregnant belly as she blushed.
Doherty sited hysterical laughter as a great fan to the flame, and it seems to be working because Green says she still feels the exact same was she did when she first saw Doherty.
Brad had a slightly different answer.
“I wasn’t aware the initial fireworks stage was over!” he said.