Fort Bend Sweethearts

Cover Story –

February is the month of love, and love is definitely in the air in Fort Bend.  In honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, we asked some of our favorite couples to give us the scoop on their marriage – how they met – and more importantly, their secrets to a happy marriage.  Here’s what they had to say about their special sweethearts.  Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day Fort Bend!


Dr. Rebecca Deurlein

Jeff and Dr. Rebecca Deurlein.

1) It was my first day of school, freshmen year of college, and I attended a freshmen mixer, their version of computer dating. You were given a printout from one of those ancient computers and told to find the names on your card and introduce yourself. Here came a gorgeous blond man, just smiling at me and asking if he was on my card. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Turns out he was a sophomore crashing the freshmen party. He says, and I quote, “I just had to go talk to that girl in the purple.” Sidenote: He crashed the next night’s freshmen mixer as well. We hung out together the entire night. That was the start of four solid years of dating. I married him right out of college at 21 years old.

2) There are a few, but mama taught me that respect is #1. No name calling. No threats. No talking down to one another. Jeff agrees but adds that fun has to be #2. You have to have fun together, laugh together, do crazy things together. One more: make sure you get couple time, even when you have babies. We’ve never stopped dating or taking trips together, just the two of us.

3) I’d rather be happy than right.



Sam and Roxanne Esparza.

Roxanne  Esparza

1) We met at Skateland – a roller skating rink in 1986.

2) Compromise is the secret to a happy marriage. You have to give 50/50.  It can’t always be your way.  You have to think of the other person, too.  Luckily, Sam and I have so much in common, we rarely have to compromise.

3) People come and go, but your spouse will always be there.  Invest your time in each other first before you start investing your time in others. We will be married 30 years in October.


Judy and Larry Deats.

Larry Deats

1) Blind date.

2) Quickly learn to say,

“Yes ma’am.”

3) Continue with yes ma’am and after 52+ years of a great marriage and two wonderful twins, lots of love!



Spencer and Stacy Bynes.

Stacy Bynes

1) Met in college. We were “Harry and Sally” friends for many years.

2) Make it a daily goal to make him/her glad they chose you.

3) Sometimes you just have to laugh.





Dr. Lance and Christine Jue.

Christine Jue

1) Met at the dental office.

2) Commitment to each other, openness and of course, honesty and family.

3) Treat each other equally and respectful, otherwise, we have a problem Houston.





Leslie  Piwowar

Leslie and Tim Piwowar.

1) My husband and I met in New Orleans through MatchMaker, a dating company. This was pre-online dating. We both received pieces of paper through the mail which had details about us: occupation, religion, hobbies, hair/eye color, etc. If we liked what the paper included, you could call the person and chit chat. We talked by phone for about a month before we met in person. He was not my type, nor was I his, but we stuck it out. We became fast friends, which then developed into love. We’ll be married 20 years in September this year!

2) The secret to a happy marriage is training him well. LOL, just kidding – but not really! My husband is my best friend and truly my person. Our marriage is a partnership and based on open communication and honesty. We share everything, which sometimes requires sacrifice.

3) The one thing I learned from marriage is forgiveness and do not hold a grudge. Yes, we may argue but we figure it out and move forward. We also learned to be a united front when it comes to raising children as they do try to divide and conquer!


Vicki Latham

Bob and Vicki Latham.

1) I met my Boo, Bob, at work at Fluor Engineering Corporation. After two weeks

of working together, he asked me to be his bride, and I happily accepted since Cupid struck us both with his arrow.

2) The secret to a happy marriage is working as a team to get things done, as well as always being a good listener, best friend and lovers to each other. And, we love going on romantic dates!

3) The one lesson I’ve learned from being married is that we were made to be with each other and raise our daughters. No other person can fill either of our shoes. We are happily married 41 years on Valentine’s Day 2021.



Lisa and Joe Giesler.

Lisa  Giesler

1) We met at church. I was wearing a red mini skirt and stilettos, and he said he had to meet me.

2) Coffee chocolate breakfast served on weekends and affirmations.

3) Boundaries and not being afraid to communicate.





Kelli and Steve Metzenthin.


Kelli Metzenthin

1) We met on the 19th hole of the Fort Bend Country Club.

2) Consideration, respect and communication.

3) Two people are in the relationship – get over oneself.




Laurie and Mike Mercado.

Laurie and Mike Mercado.


Laurie Mercado

1) I took a scuba class, and he was the assistant instructor.

2) Enjoy spending time together and laugh a lot!

3) Compromise and pick your battles!





Teresa  Cox Reading

Teresa and Dr. William Reading.

1) Met in Victoria working in the psych unit at one of the hospitals. He was the new doc on the block from Round Rock. He asked me out for about a year. I finally said yes. Best decision ever!

2) To me, there is no real “secret” to a happy marriage: respect, honor and love your partner and the rest will follow.

3) Wow! I have learned many lessons with my partner of almost 30 years with just maturing from life’s experiences.

But I guess one of the greatest about men is that respect is a big issue. Men want respect from their wives. And women want a lot of love. Patience helps so much in finding your way with your mate; it’s not a race but a journey. And leave name calling out of your marriage totally. You can’t take back those words and that can lead to resentment and feelings that forever can affect a marriage. Have kind pet names for each other and use them liberally, and finally a man’s heart can be connected to his stomach. Learn to cook his favorite meals. That’s a lot more than one, but “respect” is at the root of it all.


Kristin Lytle

Kristin and Tracy Lytle.

1) We met at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in March of 1977.

2) Forgive and forget.

3) We just celebrated our 40th anniversary. I would have to say we both learned to be considerate and contribute to meeting each other’s needs, wants and dreams.







Bob and Dianne Wilson.

Dianne Wilson

1) We met on the University of Houston rifle range when I fired untimely. Bob was furious. When he asked who fired the shot, I said “I did, and if I was aiming at you, you would not be standing there!”

2) Being soulmates.

3) Tolerate the little things and defend your beliefs.






Lucy Underwood

Alan and Lucy Underwood.

1) My husband and I met on a blind date when I was training as a flight attendant in Houston for what used to be known as Continental Airlines. We were as opposite as can be.  I was born and raised in California and a city girl.  He was from Houston and raised in the country.  I was very social and loved dancing.  He was reserved, quiet and preferred staying at home.  I am a vegetarian.  He’s a meat and potatoes guy.

2) We met, dated and married all within 90 days. Both of our families though we’d lost our minds.  We joke that our love story is a combination of Married at First Sight and 90 Day Fiancé.  Marriage is not for the faint of heart or sissies.  It is hard work.  We’ve seen each other through the good, the bad and the ugly together.  Our faith has kept us committed to our vows and our determination to fix things rather then throw in the towel has made us stronger together.

3) Fast forward to 28 years, later and I can honestly say that I am more in love with my spouse now then I was when we first married.  I am truly blessed to call him my husband, my partner, my best friend.



Joy and Dennis Dowell.

Joy Dowell

1) We met at a little “cheers” spot called CJ’s, and I tried to match him up with my girlfriend. I was dating someone else and he patiently waited for it to run its course. Then one day he said, “Now will you give me a chance?” I said, “A chance for what?” because I thought we were just friends. He said, “You know ‘A Chance!’” I was shocked and agreed. He never let me out of his sight after that.

2) We had been married before and had a blended family. We decided to have an intimate wedding and a large party. We got married in the snow in Branson Missouri in a 100-year-old shine grotto by a Methodist minister from the Iowa conference. We paid his daughter $35 to play three songs on the ancient organ.  His wife was our witness.  It was pre-season, so we had the hotel to ourselves. He called the radio station without me knowing it and had them play our favorite song I Swear as a surprise to me.

3) The special Valentine’s Day memory is not an event or something he bought me, but it is the beautiful words he writes me every year in my cards. It comes from his heart and is pure love.

4) I believe you must genuinely like the other person. Dennis taught me how to love and to be loved. I believe you need to be able to envision yourself pushing them in a wheelchair or taking care of them if they get sick, and still want to be with them for life.   

5) Hug every chance you get – it is hard to be mad at someone you are touching. Pray together and laugh together often.

6) I can’t always have my way! If I remember that marriage is fun!


Elizabeth Butler

Elizabeth and Phillip Butler.

1) We met September 16, 1981, on retreat. At least that’s what we told many people, including our children until they were in their teens. Actually, we met in college on that date at a bar called The Retreat.

2) We maried August 6, 1983 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morgan City, Louisiana.

3) We have two children and three (almost four) granddaughters.

4) We belong to a neighborhood dinner club, and a few years ago, our husbands got together and cooked a surprise steak and crab leg dinner on Valentine’s Day while we went to the spa. Phillip also did a fabulous dessert. It wasn’t your typical romantic dinner, but it was so thoughtful.

5) Choose your husband/wife carefully. The things that bug you about your spouse today are likely the same ones that will bug you 10, 20, 30 years from now. Make sure you can live with whatever those are.

6) Many people advise newly married couples not to go bed angry. We say do it. Go to bed angry. Sometimes things that seem worth fighting over one night don’t seem like such a big deal the next morning.

7) Don’t encourage your beer drinking husband to like wine. If you do, you’ll have to share your wine with him.


James and Melissa Ives.

Melissa  Ives

1) We met in March 1989 at The Ocean Club on St. James Place in Houston.

2) We were married on Saturday February 11,1995 at St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic Church in Houston.

3) We have three beautiful spoiled cats.

4) Our favorite Valentine’s memory is when we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Key West, Florida. We took a sunset private catamaran champagne cruise.

5) Life and all of its’ challenges are better met with a loving spouse.

6) Speak from your heart and always stay true – and listen.

7) The most important lesson that we have learned about marriage is that, “We is more important than I.”