The saying goes that two are better than one, and for six Clark County couples, that proves true. Whether in their full-time jobs, volunteer efforts or a combination of the two, these couples find that their relationships “work” for different reasons. For some, that success is built on finding balance with a person who is their opposite. Others find comfort in similarities and spending time with someone who understands how they approach the world. Whatever the reason, these couples agree finding the right person fits much like matching the last piece of a puzzle.
The 12 individuals who make up these dynamic duos each have something in common — they seek to make their community a better place and they accomplish that mission with their significant other working alongside them.
Winchester Living talked to these couples about their work, their relationships and guiding principles for successful couples.
Ryan & Tresa Dotson
While there are often misconceptions about young love, Ryan and Tresa Dotson have found success with it. The Pike County natives were married in 1990, just two weeks after Ryan graduated high school at the age of 17 and Tresa was 19. As Ryan says, the pair were “babies” when they found love hanging out with mutual friends. After two years in the military, more than a decade of Ryan working as a radiologist and Tresa as a waitress and two children — Shea, 26, and Shana, 25 — the couple believes they were lucky to find one another as teenagers. Today, they have been together 27 years and are celebrating 20 years of ministering together through Lighthouse World Outreach Center. Together, they are able to reach beyond the church’s walls to impact the community, learning lessons along the way about how to strengthen their marriage.
WL: How did you meet and did you know the connection was real at first?
RD: We grew up around Pike County. I lived on the Kentucky side. She lived on the West Virginia side of the river. All of the kids hung out together and she caught my eye, so I asked her out.
TD: We had our first date at Pizza Hut and I didn’t really know him personally so I brought my cousin with me. We ended up having a conversation with him and I told my cousin she could go. I really enjoyed his company and from there it sort of escalated.
RD: We dated six months and then she proposed to me — and that really happened. I married her a week after graduating high school.
WL: What were some of the challenges and benefits of being married so young?
RD: You know, everyone makes assumptions about the reasons why teenagers would get married. People asked if she was pregnant, but she wasn’t at the time. She became pregnant about six months later and I joined the military to support our family. I had a couple college scholarships, but I decided I needed to support our family. Being in the military, there are a lot of challenges, but the benefit of getting married at that age, looking back, is that I got to share my life with somebody that has seen me come from nothing to where we are today. It’s a beautiful thing to look back and see that you got to share all of that with somebody. You learn to forgive each other through all the growing pains. We were able to grow and give each other grace. It helped us mature and now we’ve become adults together.
TD: I think young love is the best love. As your relationship grows, you mold each other. You learn to give a little and take a little along the way. We learned to hang in there and fight for what we love.
WL: How did you get involved in ministry?
RD: I was working at the University of Kentucky doing X-ray at the time. I had given my heart to Christ and started to get involved with a local church. I was asked to be a youth pastor and started ministering and evangelizing. I had always loved music — it’s always been in the fabric of who I am. So I got involved, traveling around singing with a gospel group. Then I felt the call to start a ministry. We started in a little building by the railroad tracks on North Main Street with 12 people. We grew that first year to about 120 people and outgrew the space. About a year and half later we were able to buy the building where we are now. We are celebrating 20 years of pastoring and ministry here.
TD: We both grew up in Christian families and in the church, so basically doing ministry work and helping people in that way was ingrained in us early on.
WL: What sort of outreach do you do through your church?
RD: One of the things I’m very adamant about is ministering to the complete person — spiritually, emotionally and physically. We try not to just meet a physical need but heal people by preaching the word, offering Christian counseling and being engaged in people’s lives. We have a food pantry that feeds multiple families each week through donations. We have a clothing bank and we even ran a furniture bank at one time. We want to reach out beyond the walls of our church to impact our community.
WL: Ministry can be difficult, how have you been able to work together to overcome the challenging times?
RD: There have been times that I’ve felt like quitting, felt overwhelmed. You go through seasons as a pastor. Tresa has stood by me through those times and told me to hang in there. She reminds me that those seasons will pass. She’s been an encourager. She’s held me up when I’m weak and that’s priceless.
TD: I think when you’re able to help people, it brings such joy. It makes you feel good to know that you did something good for someone else in the right spirit. As far as with Ryan, he helps me to be a better person. When you have a significant other who helps push you to be better and to help others, that’s everything.
RD: When we get to see people change their whole lives together, that is such a rewarding feeling.
WL: What tips do you have for other couples?
RD: Tresa and I may or may not have been together still if we hadn’t found Christ together. That is the centerpiece of our marriage. There are times that we get tired of each other, but we come back to the center knowing that Christ is the center of our marriage.
TD: You just can’t give up when you have those difficult times.
RD: In this generation, there’s such a willingness to give up. But you have to fight for it, and you have to give each other room to mess up and be OK with it.
Aaron & Selina Arnett
When Aaron and Selina Arnett moved to Winchester 17 years ago, they were looking for a way to become part of the community. It was a slow process at first, but the couple eventually found their place as a part of the all-volunteer board at Leeds Center for the Arts. Today, Selina is vice-president and Aaron is an active member, but it took a few years before the couple found the perfect fit. The two met in November 1995 when they were attending a small church, both on their way to becoming missionaries. Mutual friends introduced them, they starting hanging out, learning Spanish together and sharing conversations about their common goals. Six months later, they were married and began pursuing their goal of becoming missionaries with a trip to Ecuador. It wasn’t long before the couple knew they wanted to pursue different career paths. After a stint living in Lexington, they moved to Winchester in 2000 and began searching for their “place.” They visited local congregations, but eventually became involved volunteering at Pilot View Elementary, where their children attended school. The parents of three boys said they still felt a little like “outsiders” until their middle son participated in his first show at Leeds. From there, the family has become an integral part of the theater’s rebirth in recent years. The Arnetts enjoy working together to provide a safe place for children, teens and others from the community to grow. And in the process, their marriage has grown stronger.
WL: When did you first become involved at Leeds?
SA: We had been looking for opportunities to volunteer and become involved. Our son, Galen, showed an interest in theater and was in a play. That was our first experience at Leeds. His involvement in that took him from this artsy unorganized kid to this really organized, inspired artsy kid. He said he loved the people there and how he felt here, so I just started asking, “What can I do?”
AA: He talked me into being in a show and he said, “You’ll love it here. You can be yourself.” So from that, we were here every day. In that process, we would see a need and address it. Before we knew it, we were participating more and more.
WL: Why do you think Leeds was a good fit for you and your family?
SA: It was a unique mesh of things we felt strongly about — arts and civic mindedness. It was an opportunity for us to help make a change, and it was a place that we could work together toward what we wanted to see for Winchester.
AA: Coming into this, there was something we always felt missing in Winchester. We were going to Lexington to participate in the arts, going out on weekends for shows, but we found a lot of people are not aware of what’s going on here. From that aspect, we wanted in and we wanted to be active in the revival of the theater. We loved that feeling from the beginning that anything could happen.
WL: How has raising your sons worked with your active involvement at the theater?
SA: We have three sons. Xan is 17 and he is into music. He plays the cello, trumpet and guitar. Galen is 15 and he into theater, and Nico, 7, just did his first play. He loves the theater in a different way. He likes the behind-the-scenes stuff.
AA: Both of our older sons are on the youth advisory board.
SA: They’re all interested in the arts. The older boys did the Fine Arts Cohort at GRC. They all have some kind of interest in what goes on at Leeds. It’s been neat to have a space for them to be exposed to all kinds of arts. We want to make this a similar space for other kids.
WL: How does it feel to have found the place you were looking for when you moved to Winchester?
AA: This is so much bigger than the two of us. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t see when it comes to this organization. There is this feeling that anything can happen … on the stage and as we at Leeds continue to find our place as a part of the community.
SA: I’ve learned that by volunteering you can meet the kind of people you want to be friends with. You are automatically going to be around like-minded people. We feel like this is our home now.
WL: Have you enjoyed working on this together?
AA: Having a project that we are both working on in some way, tackling that and seeing something come of it has been very rewarding. It’s spun off and allowed us to become involved in other things around he community. Now we can enjoy watching each other do other things we are passionate about.
SA: It’s important to me that we are able to do this as a family. It’s great that our interests align in such a way that allows us to do that. We can support each other and the kids have learned from watching what goes on at Leeds. They know that if you see something in the community you want to change, it starts with you. You can influence change and make your community better by just showing up.
WL: Why do you think the arts are important for Winchester?
AA: The arts are important because it gives us a bigger worldview. It has the ability to take you to a different place. You can see someone else’s life and experiences played out before you and that gives you the ability to expand your world view. It makes you more empathetic.
SA: Art inspires us to be better, to see people for more than we would have before. It allows us to connect with others on stage and in the audience. It gives us a platform to send positive messages to the world.
AA: It’s rewarding to see the reaction and the conversations.
Collin & Katie Berner
For Collin and Katie Berner, the magic comes in those comfortable moments as a married couple. They met on the University of Kentucky campus in 2002 through a campus organization called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Through that program and mutual friends, they spent more and more time together and eventually began dating. They were married in 2006 and moved to Winchester a year later, where they both teach in the Clark County Public Schools system. The pair have similar interests and share quiet, reserved personalities. Despite their own shy nature, Collin, who teachers general music at Shearer Elementary School, and Katie, who teaches sixth-grade language arts at Baker Intermediate School, find joy in helping young people break out of their shells. The two are active in the theater programs at their respective schools and enjoy spending time together working on one another’s shows. Most of all, though, they find fulfillment in working together to help their students achieve new heights on stage and off.
WL: When you met, what drew you to one another?
CB: The first time I met Katie, actually, she was doing an Intervarsity thing, and they were going around Keeneland Hall collecting trash. She knocked on my door, I opened it and my first thought was, “She’s pretty cute.”
KB: We had a lot of similar interests. We’re both big UK fans. We both like the same type of books and movies, and we’re avid Disney fans, too.
CB: Yes, very much. I intentionally left my “Lion King” soundtrack in her car so that she would have to call me and tell me she still had it.
WL: How did you guys get involved with theater?
CB: I had a sixth-grade drama teacher and I absolutely loved her class. I ended up being homeschooled the following two years, so there wasn’t much opportunity for me to be involved in theater. I kept pushing forward with music, but lost that connection with theater. I didn’t do much theater in high school, either. I was in the pit orchestra for a couple productions.
The spark didn’t really hit me until I was at a KMEA conference in 2013 and there was a school that had their own theater organization that was well established — it was an elementary school. They did some excerpts from their show and I thought, “Why can’t we do that here?” I brought it back to my principal at the time, and she was very much in favor of it.
Through that process, I really fell in love with doing theater and helping kids develop confidence and leadership through that.
KB: I was involved in productions throughout school and loved it. I’m a quiet and reserved person, but when I get on stage, I really like to perform and get into character.
WL: Why do you enjoy helping with the various programs in the local schools?
CB: We want to push for the arts to be a really big thing. Here in Winchester, we have so many kids that have so much artistic talent, vocal talent and acting talent.
KB: And we get to see them kind of grow in their talent from year to year.
WL: How has doing these programs helped you grow as a couple?
CB: It’s been good for us as a couple because we get to help each other out, lift each other up and support each other in that way. We kind of develop a mutual senergy for both of our shows and for our organizations.
KB: It’s a fun thing to do together as a hobby or pastime. Usually, on the weekend, we’re in the Peddler’s Mall or Goodwill together looking for costumes or props.
WL: Why are the arts something young people should be exposed to?
KB: My favorite thing about the arts is that it gives kids a place to belong. We have a lot of kids that do our shows that don’t play sports and aren’t really into other things, but this gives them a family when they’re here.
CB: As a music teacher and someone who has been involved in several productions, I very firmly believe that the arts have their own intrinsic value. We’ve watched a lot of kids develop confidence, leadership skills and the willingness to get up on stage. I’ve heard from many parents, “I do not know how this child grew from the one I know to the one I see on stage,” and those same ones tend to, after they graduate from my program, try out for the Baker programs and continue to grow their talents and skills.
KB: And because they have that confidence, they are willing to welcome other people into it, especially people who have never done it before.
WL: What are some tips you would give other couples?
KB: One of my favorite things about Collin is that he’s always open and honest and willing to share if something is bothering him. We’re able to talk about our problems, and at the end of the day, be able to laugh about whatever it is. We don’t argue much — only about which Christmas album is best, Mannheim Steamroller or the Carpenters. I like having somebody to laugh with.
CB: I think my favorite thing about Katie, there are lots and lots and lots of things, but I like just the overall sweetness that she has even when I come to her as a mess and I need someone there. She always, always knows what to say to pick me up and keep me going. And, honestly, watching how she works and the passion that she has for her students and the community here and how much she’s willing to give of herself for others has been great.
Dickie & JuaNita Everman
Dickie and JuaNita Everman met in a local bar more than 20 years ago. JuaNita had just moved back to Kentucky from Texas a few months before she caught the eye of Dickie, who was “born here and never left.” He asked her out that night and she agreed. She brought along her three-year-old granddaughter to their first date at Greenlee’s Restaurant, to which Dickie was surprised. But they hit it off and were married a year later in 1990. In addition to JuaNita’s older children, Chris and Pam, the Evermans had two girls together, Rachel and Rebecca. But, Dickie struggled with alcohol addiction that caused problems with the couple and jeopardized their marriage. Dickie found recovery and the couple found God together. Now, they walk alongside others who are facing similar life struggles and have been able to rejoice with other families who find recovery and reconciliation through Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program Dickie helped establish at Calvary Christian Church. When the couple met in a bar and fell in love, there was a point they weren’t sure their marriage would make it. It would have been hard to imagine life would take them into full-time ministry and the opportunity to share their experiences with others. Through the process, though, Dickie found recovery and JuaNita found her own healing, and the couple believes their marriage and their family is stronger because of their willingness to share past experiences.
WL: How did you guys go from meeting in a bar to leading Celebrate Recovery?
DE: I got into recovery in 1996. I am a recovering alcoholic. I drank every day. I never thought it was a problem for a long time, but it came to a head when our girls were younger. It all sort of came crashing down on us. I started going to secular programs in 1996. I stayed involved with those until we started going to Calvary. I learned about God and the kids got involved there. We started growing spiritually, got very involved in the church and I was not going to my AA meeting as much. I decided I needed to go to a faith-based group, so we started Recovery In Christ. I knew some others at the church who had also been through 12-step programs and weren’t going anymore.
We were introduced to Celebrate Recovery in 2006, and we fell in love with it. It addresses all kinds of hurts, habits and hang-ups, not just addiction. God released me from my struggles with alcohol, but I was still struggling with other things and this program helped address those struggles using the 12 steps.
JE: I was not an addict, but I struggle with other things. During Recovery In Christ I was there for support, but as a CR leader, I had to go through a step study. I learned that I did have other issues, and I was able to change my life, too. I was co-dependent. My happiness came from making him happy and I would do everything I could to make him happy. My happiness depended on other people.
WL: How has working with CR strengthened your own marriage and family?
JE: We still go through ups and downs. But we’re a lot closer now. We continue to get better and better.
DE: We’re stronger than ever. We have been able to be there to walk alongside eachother but also others who are seeking healing.
When that healing comes from God, and from the work they put in, we are able to see other marriages restored the same way ours was. CR is for the whole family. When we are discussing something with the parents in the step study, the children are also learning about that in their own group. There is a lot of frustration and anger that comes when family members are dealing with issues or in recovery. When a spouse or a parent changes, their family has to also change.
JE: We have an excellent relationship with our children. Since they have been old enough to understand, we are very honest with them. Our older children participate in the program some. Our family bond is strong because are willing to talk about our problems.
DE: That is not always the case in families. We tell our kids that we know they will struggle, but we pray that they know help is out there. Too many people try to do it on their own, but they don’t have to.
WL: What tips do you have for others who are married and perhaps struggling?
DE: Marriage takes work. Recovery takes work. We have to learn to be selfless and, at one time, I was very selfish. You have to constantly work on your marriage. Even when things are going well, continue to work on it. Most of all, God is the center of our marriage now, so we can’t be selfish.
JE: Communication is a big thing. We try not to go to bed angry. We give each other grace, and we talk about things.
DE: You have to be honest with each other. Guys have a hard time being vulnerable sometimes, but women need to be vulnerable. They are open and want to share. We have to work on communication and learning that it’s OK to be vulnerable.
JE: And we all make mistakes. And it’s OK.
Harry Enoch & Clare Sipple
For Harry Enoch and Clare Sipple, success in their marriage and their work as local historic preservationists is all about balance. They find balance and comfort in their differences. Harry is a self-described hermit who enjoys long hours spent researching local people and places. Clare, on the other hand, loves to interact with others, especially in her role as manager of the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve. It was through their efforts to preserve local history that the pair met, and their perfectly-balanced, yet totally opposite personalities, prove helpful for their work at Lower Howard’s Creek, in other preservation efforts and most importantly, in their 10-year marriage. Harry is a retired biochemist who grew up in Montgomery County, lived in Lexington for several years and relocated to Winchester in 1999 to get away from the bustle of the big city. Clare is a seventh-generation Clark Countian who was reared on a family farm on Lower Howard’s Creek — a suitable fit for the landscape architect and preservationist who would someday manage the site. A friendship built on mutual passion for local history budded into an unlikely romance.
WL: How did you guys meet?
CS: We met when we were both volunteers for the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. He then became involved with Lower Howard’s Creek and he straightened me out on a lot of the history there because I really only knew stories my grandmothers told me or vague nonspecific stories I’d heard through theirs. Unearthing the history there has been so interesting because Harry does the research and I know the land. So he can find information about a grave and I can take him to the actual location.
HE: I moved to Clark County in 1999 and I was married at the time. My wife, Brenda, was ill and I retired to take care of her. It was a bit premature. I was only 58, but it was good to be able to do that. She passed away early in 2006. Clare and I were married at the end of 2007. We had known each other as friends because of our mutual interest in local history.
CS: We’ve been great partners because we’ve unearthed so many stories about the people who lived at LHC.
WL: How did that friendship turn into a relationship and now a 10-year marriage?
CS: When we met, Harry’s wife was still living and I had been single and sworn off relationships for 20 years. I remember always admiring how gentle and kind he was with Brenda. We worked together through the museum and the preserve, so we were friends.
I’d had foot surgery. My daughter was here taking care of me, and Harry stopped by with a flower and an offer to go to the grocery store. When he left, my daughter asked why I’d never told her about him, and I said there was nothing to tell. He was a very nice guy, but his wife had just passed away and he loved her so much I thought he would never get remarried.
HE: Her daughter told her she was wrong, I was interested.
CS: Before I knew it, we were seeing each other. I love how when we are together, we never run out of things to talk about. Every time I am with Harry, we never shut up — well, I never shut up. We have so much in common.
HE: She’s the perfect complement, I guess, to my ways. I’m a hermit and a more of a stay-at-home, go do my own thing type of person. She spends her whole day with people.
WL: What is like for you guys to have another chance at love and at working in local history?
HE: It’s been kind of magical for me. It’s kept me young.
CS: It’s exciting and stimulating.
HE: The best thing about it for us is that we are such a good mesh. If someone takes a tour at LHC with Clare, they can see how well we fit together. She’s the face. She does the talking. She tells everyone about the natural history and the plants and the history of the area. Then so much of that information she is bringing to life is the research I’ve done.
When you lose a spouse, grieving is a difficult thing to go through. It helps to have another passion to help get past that. And then, to find someone that I can share that passion with is a really fortunate thing.
CS: We tell each other every day how lucky we are.
WL: What are some tips you guys would share with other couples?
HE: I think giving each other space is important — we’re the epitome of that. I have time for my interests and she has time for her interests, her needs. She needs to be able to do her own thing and I need to be by myself a lot.
CS: You have to respect each other’s boundaries. We established that early on, along with the need to be flexible.
HE: Finding balance is also important. No one person in the relationship should dominate in anything. We pretty much let each other have our ways. We don’t get mad or upset or have cross words.
CS: And in a 10-year marriage, that’s remarkable. But that’s because I know Harry is always right and Harry knows I am always right.
Seneca Anderson & Jessica Marci
As business partners and a couple, Seneca Anderson and Jessica Marci have been building their success for more than a decade. They met 15 years ago when Seneca was visiting Jessica’s family. Taken back by her beauty, Seneca said he quickly forged a friendship with Jessica. From friendship grew a relationship and from their relationship was born various local business ventures. Today, the couple and parents to three girls run 5Star Advertisement. The business focuses on providing avenues for local artists, entertainers and models, but more importantly, for promoting the community. Last year, the couple hosted a glow festival with a live DJ and electronic dance music, Country on Main with various regional musicians and a charity car show. Their passion for promotion and advertising came from their own struggles getting the word out about their businesses. They began a circular with ads for various local businesses. It started as a one-sheet mailer and grew into a pamphlet before a larger competitor took over the market. From there, the couple decided to start working with local talent and help other businesses achieve their goals through advertising. Their passion for promoting extends beyond their clients, though. For the couple, the key to success is being each other’s biggest chearleader.
WL: How did you guys meet?
SA: It was actually at her aunt’s house. I was friends with her aunt’s husband and I went by to talk to him one day. She was on the front porch looking beautiful as always. We started talking from there, became really good friends and then business partners.
JM: We were best friends, really. Then it grew into something that was amazing and more than that. From that we have three girls, ages 12, 9 and 7 and a dog that is like our fourth little girl.
WL: How did you start 5Star Advertising?
SA: At the beginning of the year, Jessica said we needed to get back into business. I said if we were, we needed to get into entertainment, managing artists and helping them advertise, social media management, photoshoots, anything they needed to be successful.
JM: We’ve always been passionate about our community and when we had our little night club, we always heard people say that there was nothing to do here. So through this business, we also want to provide things for people to do — events like the glow festival, Country on Main and hopefully others. Just anything for the community to get involved and hopefully attract people from surrounding towns to visit here, too.
SA: We want to make Winchester a destination for others. We hope our events can grow to allow businesses to make money, hotels to make money, restaurants to make money when people come here. We hope we can see our population grow. People won’t want to move here if the perception is that there is nothing fun to do here.
WL: You are reaching a younger audience with your events and clients. Why is that important for you?
SA: There are a lot of young adults around here on drugs and into bad things. But, if we can give them something positive to do to change their mindset and see that they can be successful, that’s important. We also want to be an example. If they can look at us and see that we are doing this positive stuff, maybe they will want to also. We want to get them off the street and make Winchester great.
JM: People tend to keep things bottled up and that ends up coming out in the wrong way. We also want them to bring their positive energy here because everything we associate ourselves with is good, positive and family-friendly. We also want our events to be a way for us to give back, with some donations to local charities that help people in those situations.
WL: How has your relationship been integral in your business?
JM: Basically the main thing is being a team. That’s our focus in everything and it makes us stronger. Even when we might disagree, we are able to offer constructive criticism. It becomes a learning experience. By doing that, it improves our end product. We’re able to collaborate and be constructive. Even with our children, our relationship at home, having both our opinions makes things spectacular.
SA: When it comes to making decisions, we have differing opinions. We can bump heads sometimes.
WL: What are some things that attracted you to one another?
JM: We were total opposites.
SA: And I had a nice car.
JM: He did. But aside from that, he had something about him that stood out to me. The way he talked and conducted himself was about business. He had a go-getter attitude always. That’s why we’ve had so many of his business ideas come to life. And I’m always there to support those projects and ideas. We’re very different. I’m more quiet and supportive in the background. Then, I go all in. He’s the brain, but I’m the backbone.
SA: I think I loved her because she never judged me. A lot of people judge me, look at me and see gold teeth and tattoos and have a perception of me. She never did that. It’s awesome to have that support, too. I think sometimes I’m scared of success, but she is always there to tell me to go and do it. I wish every man could have a woman like that.
WL: What tips do you have for other couples?
JM: Communication is the most important thing. We have a great trust built up. So I think that’s something all couples should work toward. But we also make sure we go out and enjoy each other. We have time to ourselves to have fun or visit with other adult friends. You have to keep your relationship enjoyable. When you have kids and jobs, it can be easy to say you don’t have time to do that. But then when the relationship doesn’t work out, you look back and have to acknowledge that you guys didn’t do anything to keep the happiness alive.
SA: That personal time and fun time can be reparative to a relationship. §