Love is in the air at Mercyhurst University – but not just on Valentine’s Day. More than 20 married couples call the ‘Hurst the workplace. So what’s it like to work on campus with your spouse? These couples gave us the scoop, as well as their best relationship advice for young valentines.
Married for almost nine years, Ruth and Edward Jolie met as undergraduates at Mercyhurst and now share an office in the department of anthropology/archaeology. He is a post-doctoral fellow, and she is an assistant professor. Ruth noted that the best piece of relationship advice is one she received from an old friend on her wedding day.
“To make a good relationship work, it’s not 50/50 – it’s 100/100,” she says. “It’s clichéd, but true.”
Lee and Allan Belovarac got married in Mercyhurst’s Christ the King chapel 33 years ago, and have both been working at the ‘Hurst since the early 1970s. Lee is an assistant professor in the Walker School of Business and Communication, and Allan is a professor of history.
“Always be honest with your significant other,” Lee advises. “There is nothing that cannot be worked out with honest and open communication.”
The Dance Department has two married couples: assistant professors of dance Mark and Solveig Santillano, married for 15 years; and department chair Tauna Hunter and production manager Michael Gleason, married for 25.
Tauna and Michael note that the two have been a team since the day they met. “We started off as dance partners,” Tauna says. “Since we retired from the stage, we collaborate to proliferate our passion: The art of dance.”
She has this relationship advice to share: “Respect one another, and honor the gifts each brings to the relationship.”
Ryan and Jenell Patton, married for 12 years, work together with the women’s volleyball team as head coach and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator, respectively. Jenell took on a position as outreach coordinator in Campus Ministry this year, but prior to that, she and her husband also shared an office.
“Recipe for marital bliss, eh?” she says. “We actually complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses quite well, as opposites do attract.”
They still share a workspace when Jenell helps out with the team, but when she’s in her Campus Ministry workspace, Ryan makes it a point to stop by and say hi.
“It doesn’t get more romantic than this – she’s on my path to the mailroom,” Ryan says.
Larry and Lorraine Frownfelter met at Mercyhurst and have been married for nearly nine years – in fact, he proposed to her by the campus fountain exactly one year after the day they met. The Frownfelters both work in the information technology department, although they report to different supervisors: he’s a communication specialist, she’s an application support specialist. His best relationship advice? “We agree to disagree – when we don’t agree,” Larry says.
Darlene Melchitzky of the biology department and Rob Hoff of the psychology department have been married for 16 years.
“See the other person each day as if for the first time,” she says. “It’s all too easy to take someone for granted. Really notice all the wonderful things your partner does, and let your beloved know what you see.”
Now that’s a Valentine’s Day gift money can’t buy.
Here is more relationship advice from ‘Hurst couples. These words of wisdom were too good to ignore.
“Google it. Just kidding! Marry your best friend, and laugh often.” – Darcey and Aaron Kemp, married 12 years
"Be honest about who you are, and don’t expect perfection… No one is perfect, but the best relationships are two people who are perfect for each other." - Cindy Nimchuk and Randy Howarth, married 7 years
“Any problem can be solved if we are up front and honest with each other. And we can’t ever forget to make each other laugh… a lot!” – Tom and Sara Kitchen, married 2 years
“Take very good care of yourself so that you have a very good self to share with and to care for your spouse. Listen with your head and heart. Laugh together.” – Gerry and Michelle Tobin, married 27 years
“Support each other, no matter what!” – Chris and Jen Coons, married five years
“Love. Trust. Faith. Compromise.” – Daliang Wang and Yixin Lu, married 10 years
“Have an evening cocktail together.” – Missy and Jim Breckenridge, married 35 years
“Eat peanut butter bumpers; laugh a lot; have candles and wine in the house; speak and act with compassion; celebrate the differences; play the ukulele and sing together; make love, dances and art; walk the dog; read aloud; cook and eat delicious meals together; don’t be afraid of the dust bunnies; open your arms and heart; listen; share sacred places and mountaintop experiences ... give thanks, love one another.” – Solveig and Mark Santillano, married 15 years