by Cassidy Nunn –
Over the years of being a wedding and portrait photographer, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with so many incredible couples. My favourite part is hearing their story: what brought them together, what keeps them together, and what they love most about each other. This month I met with three Peninsula-based couples of varying ages; I learned a bit about them as a duo as well as sought out their advice to maintaining a healthy relationship. I’m newly married myself, but my husband and I have been together over 11 years now and so much of the advice I heard rang true, especially that quality time together is important. With our first baby on the way, I know this time will be more meaningful than ever!
Sarah and Kaine Sparks, 16 years together, live in North Saanich and run the micro winery Invinity Sparkling Wine House. They met while working as servers at Dunsmuir Lodge and after a few years of dating and travelling, the two decided to tie the knot in 2011. Almost nine years later, they’re proud parents to three kids, run a business together out of their home and property, and remain the best of friends. Kaine’s advice is to “treat each other like best friends.” Be sure to “make time for each other,” adds Sarah. Quality time for the couple is often spent together in the evenings, after the kids have gone to bed, whether that’s going out for a date night to a local restaurant, taking part in a paint night, partaking in a wine tour, or simply staying in and cooking a more elaborate meal for just the two of them. They also put an emphasis on quality time spent together as a family and enjoy “doing anything we can with the kids,” says Sarah, which often includes hiking, biking around the airport, working all together in their vineyard, or going out for dinner as a family. Luckily, the two say they have fun working together, but the key to that is also to know when to call it quits from working long hours on their business before burnout sets in. Sarah says her favourite quality in Kaine is his strength, “physically, mentally and emotionally; he’s a beast!” and Kaine loves that Sarah is “fiercely protective of our family,” and that she makes him a better person.
Alice Bacon and John Carswell, 32 years together, are another couple who have a family, and live and work together, running their business Brentwood Bay Village Empourium.
The two met in 1986 at Camosun College in the Applied Communications program. They became fast friends and after a couple of years their friendship turned into a relationship. The couple credits having a good foundation in their relationship before starting a business together, and divide up the responsibilities within the business.
“What I love about Alice is she makes me think about things in a completely different way. Her perspective is often completely different than mine,” says John. He also credits her sense of humour and how she always seems to find the brighter side of any issue.
“I love John’s intelligence and his tendency towards deep thought and his ability to cut through the clutter … he’s an incredibly capable person,” says Alice.
The two have some separate interests and hobbies outside of their business as well but enjoy travelling and going out for meals together. Their “secret” to a healthy relationship? “When things get rocky, ride it out,” advises Alice. “If you just wait it out often you can get some clarity.” “Relationships evolve,” adds John. After the initial romance and intrigue comes “the really interesting part of the relationship.”
Dale and Gwen Philpott, 64 years together, met in Grade 13 in Prince George in 1949.
The two went off to UBC to study after high school and at that point began dating; in 1955 they were married at the University chapel. The couple traversed the province throughout their careers as accountants, living in Princeton, Penticton, Kamloops and eventually settling in Victoria in 1983; they’ve called the Island home ever since.
“We’ve always got along,” says Dale. “We used to love to go dancing.”
They share a great sense of adventure and their travels have taken them to 62 countries on six continents. Together they raised three children and now have eight grandkids, and four (soon to be five!) great grandkids. “We’re lucky that they’re all here,” says Gwen, adding that their family all lives close by.
Dale’s secret to maintaining a healthy relationship is “don’t argue. I refuse to,” to which Gwen quickly countered by saying: “I like to argue, just for sport!” She followed that up by adding: “just get along and be nice to each other.”