Sonja Keeve reached out to me about a month ago with a desire to share her story. After reading it, it was evident she is so passionate about her marriage. Instead of sharing her story in the format in which she wanted to send it I thought it would be an even greater idea to interview her and her husband, Duane. After the interview I cannot tell you how inspired I was! This couple is phenomenal, dropping wisdom from a marital and parental perspective. You just have to read it for yourself! They will bless your marriage, parenting skills, or prepare you to have some amazing tools for your future marriage. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you... The Keeve's!
Dr. E: Sonja and Duane thank you both so much for reaching out to me to share your marriage journey with our A NEW ME audience. Please tell me what does A NEW ME: Transparently, abundantly mean to you and why have you decided to share on this platform?
The Keeve's: A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly means authenticity and honesty. I believe that when you share with the world your truth, people tend to be more engaged because you're real in what you want the world to know about you. Our marriage has had it shares of ups and downs, but through it all, we have decided that we will continue to love each other in all times.
No marriage is perfect, but it's so much better when you are both on one accord. I hope that in sharing our story, there are couples that will take inventory of their marriages to make it stronger than ever. And for those who are thinking of marriage, spend time with that person to really gauge if that person is truly for them. Don't get married because of circumstances, but do so, because you truly can't imagine sharing your life with anyone else. Love is a four letter word that is more than a feeling, but it is a symbol of the bond that two people have chosen to cherish for a lifetime. May what we share encourage someone out there to have a stronger marriage! We are still enjoying this journey together!
Dr. E: I love that! It's so true people are more engaged and drawn to authenticity. I also love "not getting married because of circumstances" but base it on the reality you truly desire the other for a lifetime! Okay so Sonja and Duane, what do you guys do for a living and how long have you guys been together?
Sonja: I am a Mortgage Loan Processor.
Duane: I am a Dump Truck Driver.
We have been together for a total of 25 years (9 years dating, and 17 years married).
Dr. E: That's awesome! So, how did you guys meet?
The Keeve's: We both attended the same high school, but were not high school sweethearts. We noticed one another in passing, but did not actually date until after we graduated high school.
Dr. E: Wow...okay, Sonja tell us what were some things you required in a man before you met Duane?
Sonja: I wanted a man who would love and appreciate me as a woman. That would respect me, and wanted to have a good time. I wanted a man who wanted to have a family someday, had goals and dreams. Also, someone who would protect me, and would spoil me from time to time!
Dr. E: Okay those are awesome qualities to desire in a man. Duane, what were some things you required in a woman before you met Sonja?
Duane: I wanted a woman who came with no drama, who was independent, intelligent, adventurous and someone who wanted kids.
Dr. E: Yes no drama is definitely a plus! LOL It appears you both had what the other needed. So when was that moment you knew you guys were meant for each other?
Sonja: I knew we were meant for each other the summer I came home from college my freshman year. He took me out on a date to T.G.I.F. He picked me up and he showed me such a wonderful time. He made me feel like the most important person in the room. And for the first time I realized that feeling was something I wanted to feel always.
Dr. E: Oh I love that! Duane, same question for you.
Duane: My wife laughs every time I tell this story, but in high school, when one of my friends wanted me to hook him up with her, I had never seen her around school before, and I pretty much knew most of the girls. And as I got closer to her to deliver the news that my friend was interested in her, I found I wanted her for myself. And after just saying hello to her, I told another buddy of mine this girl was going to be my future wife!
Dr. E: Ohhhh! Now that's how you do it Duane! LOL! So how long did you guys date before marrying? Did you guys ever encounter some dating struggles, if yes what were they?
The Keeve's: We dated 9 years before we got married. In terms of dating struggles, there were a few..LOL!
Dr. E: LOL...Now that's funny!
Sonja: Well it took some time getting used to when I wanted to go out with the girls, telling him where we were going or what time we were getting back. At this time in my life, I was 19 years old and the days where my Mom was controlling every part of me, I was not in the mood to have a “man” question my whereabouts. But of course, not even thinking he was only asking just so he knew I would be safe. I saw as him “controlling me”.
Dr. E: Well that's honest Sonja. Duane?
Duane: The struggles were just us getting on the same page, and understanding what it means to be in an “exclusive” relationship, and having open communication sharing what you think and feel. My wife was used to not having a man who cared about what she thought or felt, and so getting her to express those feelings was hard. Even if she was mad, if I asked what was wrong, she would tell me “nothing” even though I knew it was different.
Dr. E: That's beautiful Duane. I'm sure it took a lot of patience for the both of you during that time. So, how has the process been "becoming one" for 17 years?
The Keeve's: (Laughing….) It has been quite a journey from where we begin to where we are now! We have learned the art of “ agreeing to disagree” and that it’s not the end of the world. We have learned how to work things out together, and not run to family to solve our issues. We learned that marriage is work, a give... a take. Learn how to pick your battles. Learn how to love and respect one another. And even when you begin to have kids, remember to still put each other first. I think folks confuse that when you have children you have to put your relationship on the back burner, when in fact that will hinder a marriage faster. We are not saying you can’t love your children, but you have to remember you were individual people first before you became parents and you must make sure that you don’t get so comfortable with one another that you take advantage of one another.
Dr. E: WOW! Talking about food for thought! You both have just answered that question with some loaded wisdom! Thank you for sharing that. I know someone out there needed that and I'm always open to learning how to improve my marriage as well. With that in mind, what does it mean to have "Christ be the center of marriage" and why is it so important?
The Keeve's: Christ in your marriage is the foundation that builds long lasting marriages. It’s the anchor that keeps you when distractions come to veer you off course. Having Christ as the center, teaches you how to pray for one another. Teaches you how to love one another.
Dr. E: That's so true! Being married for this period of time, what have you guys learned the most about yourself and each other?
Sonja: About myself I have learned how to believe in myself more. (As Duane screams... “Yes” that is so true! LOL) I have learned that I am stronger and smarter, and that I truly can do anything I put my mind to, because my younger self always felt I never measured up, and I cared about what others thought of me. Now…not so much. I learned I am enough! Take me or leave me. LOL
Learned about Each other- I learned that no matter what the adversity we have each other’s back.
Duane: I've learned A LOT of patience, how to be very understanding that my point of view may not always be the best. Be more understanding, and not get so upset over the small stuff. I also feel like I am a calmer person.
Learned about each other- We are more alike than I originally thought when we first got together. It’s amazing how we like the same things, from cars, what we eat, where we like to travel, the kind of home we would buy. To find someone that has so much in common in a lifestyle seems so odd if others have nothing in common with their spouse. That’s because my wife and I share so much in common.
Dr. E: That just awesome! I love what you both have gained as individuals and collectively. God truly knows who we need to pull that out of us right? I understand you guys are a blended family, please share with us what that experience has been like?
Sonja: When my husband and I first dated he told me he had a child. We were 19 and 20 years of age at the time. So for me it was an initial shock. But the one thing I totally respected him for was the fact that he took care of his responsibilities. And when we decided to get married, his daughter was 8 years old, and I remember how nervous we were to tell her. But her response was like I am okay with it, because she has always known us to be together, so it wasn’t a surprise for her. When her sister and brother were born, she was the best big sister ever. So for our family we were fortunate to have a strong foundation of love. And I tell everyone that she is my oldest daughter that I did not birth, so I get the best of the both worlds. And to this day the three of them are close!
Dr. E: That's amazing! Yes setting the foundation from the beginning is definitely so important! What has been your parenting style with your three children?
The Keeve's: Well with the oldest, she did not live with us, she lived with her mom, so that relationship was more like offering “life advice”, and letting her know that anytime she needed us no matter what, we were always going to be there for her! She is now 24 years old, and we still offer advice no matter what it is.
For our 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, we don’t raise them differently. We encourage them to strive for excellence. And if they make the wrong decisions, we let them know that there are consequences for your actions. We have family meetings and my husband and I give the male and female perspectives to any situation we are discussing. We are honest with our children and don’t sugar coat a thing. We teach that we are to love and respect each other first. We teach that your last name is an extension of us, and it’s a badge of honor, and your behavior outside of our home is a reflection of that. And finally, we believe in equal opportunity discipline.
Dr. E: What an awesome parenting style of true partnership, truth, and love! I love that "equal opportunity discipline!" What has been some of the hardest seasons of parenting? How have you and the children been able to adjust to those tougher seasons?
The Keeve's: That we can’t protect our children from everything! When our son was diagnosed with Special Needs, as a family we were torn about putting him on medication. I can tell you I flat out refused, because I was so worried it would change his personality. But through prayer, researching, and speaking with our children’s physician, we made the decision together. And it was truly the best thing we could have done for him. And while it is truly a personal choice for each family who has to go through this, we educate families that face this very decision. And we tell them, in the end, the decision must be your own.
And finally the hardest seasons of parenting are watching them grow up from babies to young adults. Each age brings on a new chapter and new challenges, but together my husband and I face them together. There are books out there on parenting, but when you become one your child dictates the kind of parent you will be. Sometimes we have moments with our kids where we question who is truly the parent. LOL
Dr. E: Oh I have a two year old, don't I know! LOL Thank you for sharing that. I can't imagine how tough that process was for you but again, with you guys working together on those important decisions made all of the difference in the world. What are some of the main principles you have instilled in your children?
The Keeve's: We have instilled in them to be kind and to help others. We also instill in them to follow your passions, no matter what it is. We tell them that life is not perfect, and you will make mistakes along the way, but find and learn from those lessons, so you don’t risk repeating those same mistakes. We tell them to think first, investigate, and then make your decision. But, no matter what you decide, as their parents we will always be their biggest cheerleaders.
Dr. E: That's great advice! What about the three of them makes you proud individually?
The Keeve's: Our oldest daughter, we are so proud of the wonderful, bright, and smart woman she has become. In May 2015, she graduated from James Madison University with honors, and she has such a straight head on her shoulders. She is kind, but tough, sensitive, but resilient, and when she puts her mind to pursing a goal, she goes for it!
The middle daughter, follows in her sister’s footsteps. Smart as a whip, also a Scholar Student. Believe it or not she was diagnosed with ADD and was on medicine for a while, but when she entered her 8th grade year we weaned her off, and she just soared. Now in high school freshman she is in all Honors classes and has her eyes set on the top Engineering schools in the country.
Our son, the baby is the sweetest kid you ever wanted to meet. He has the gentlest spirit, and we see his struggles, but he works so hard! He is an awesome video game player, and has played football, basketball, soccer and track and field. He is a natural athlete! And we tell him every day if you want to excel in school, you have got to want to do it. And baby, when he focuses, he is so proud when he brings home an “A” or “B” on his test.
Dr. E: That's just the best! I mean you guys have really poured into them. It's not doubt your children have reflected your resiliency and excellence! Kudos to you both! Switching gears: So, what do you guys like to do for fun?
The Keeve's:We love having our “date night”, since our children have gotten older. We get so excited to go the movies, dinner, or get a weekend away out of town. Sometimes if the kids spend the night with their grandparents, we enjoy being at home having our own movie night, cuddled on the coach. We get to focus on us! And that is not often, so we milk it for everything we can!
Dr. E: I know that's right! Sounds like fun! Okay so with all of your wisdom you have just shared with us what specific advice would you give to single men and women seeking a spouse?
The Keeve's: Look for someone who is on your level. Don’t compromise your core values. Respect and appreciate that person. Look for someone you truly want to spend the rest of your life with. Ask questions like if you want kids, do you like to travel, the kind of career you want. You need to make sure that it matches to what you desire. Don’t look for someone to be perfect, or match up to a list you drummed up in your head. Life doesn’t work that way.
Dr. E: Very good and very true! Next, what type of advice would you give to married couples who are looking to strengthen their marriage?
The Keeve's: Communication and trust is the key! Respect each other’s person. Love one another. Be okay that you two don’t have to go everywhere together. Pray together, and worship together. Have each other back!
Dr. E: Great great great! Regarding parenting, what type of advice you want to share with other parents?
The Keeve's: Be a team when it comes to parenting your kids. Go in with a game play and don’t abort the mission. This avoids kids playing parents against each other. Have boundaries, and let your kids know that they are not your friends, that why God made you their parents.
Show your kids what real love and respect looks like. Encourage your kids, and be present at all times. Don’t get so busy that you neglect them. Teach them, and raise them with the core values you set for your household.
Expose them to have a cultural view of the world. Keep them active and engaged. Teach them how to dream big! And have fun, because they grow up so fast, and if you blink too fast you miss it.
Dr. E: I mean...Wow! That's so good! Is there anything else a wonderful couple such as yourself would like to share with us?
The Keeve's: Life is too short to worry about things you cannot change. Embrace this life that God has given you. In our family we teach the principals to having a great life is to Love, Laugh and Live!
Dr. E: Soo beautiful! Please tell everyone how you can be contacted should they need your services, make purchases, or find out more information about your brand.
The Keeve's: Well, we have thought about writing a book, perhaps this platform will give us a chance to live that out!
Dr. E: Wow! Well I would certainly be honored! Sonja and Duane..I mean you guys are an awesome role model for marriage and parenting! Thank you so much for sharing such invaluable wisdom to our audience. I"ve learned so much from the both of you and I'm sure everyone else who read this has as well. I really look forward to that book and also you guys sharing more here on A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly. Everyone, please keep this amazing family in your prayers and heart. God has truly blessed them! Thanks again Keeve Family!
Get ready to embrace “A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly.”
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