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Each year around Valentine’s Day, it’s not uncommon to pause and wonder, “What is the secret to having a strong and healthy marriage?” We asked some of Keiro’s board members and their partners to share their own love stories along with helpful advice for other couples. 

How did you meet and was it love at first sight?

Doug Aihara's family photo

Doug and Chris: Community brought us together. Chris was working at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, and I was working in Little Tokyo at my father’s agency, Aihara Insurance. I really wasn’t looking to get involved with anyone at the time, but a mutual friend played matchmaker and brought us together for dinner at her house. We’ve been married now for 39 years, have two kids of our own and have 6 grandkids with a 7th on the way!

Jack: I met Carol through her best friend. I had recently moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles. I was on a cross-country ski trip with Carol’s best friend. She set up a blind date with Carol and the rest is history.
Carol: I was hugely impressed that his living room was very neat and artfully arranged with matching cherrywood furniture and a beautiful Raku fired Japanese vase. So maybe I fell in love with his décor and art sense at first sight?

Kimiko: He was the first Japanese American person I met in my life. I was so surprised because his English was so good!!
Kihei: We met at a sushi party in New York and she was very talkative with her “Japanglish.” I thought Japanese ladies were supposed to be reserved and more on the quiet side!?

What do you think is the secret to a healthy marriage?

man with blue tie and woman with dark pattern shirt outside

Jack: I believe that a successful marriage is based on respecting your spouse, agreeing on major life goals, (e.g. deciding to have or not have children), and being able to compromise.
Carol: You have to find the right person. Someone, perhaps, who has a similar intellect, similar level of curiosity and adventure, and/or similar sense of humor.

Kimiko: To have the same hobby, interest, loving the same food, and time to time for GAMAN!!
Kihei: Don’t take one for granted and try to find common interests that are enjoyable.

What advice can you give to other couples?

Doug: Advice for the guys — Happy wife, happy life! Of course, good communication, be willing to compromise, don’t give up on the relationship, and maintain a sense of humor. 
Chris: Have a lot of patience!

Jack: I think it is important to listen to your significant other/spouse and empathize with what he/she is saying. This will lay the groundwork to a stronger, long-lasting relationship.
Carol: Respect each other. Really listen if your partner has a difference of opinion — communicate and find out why and if their way may be better. If you get angry with each other, let it pass and then communicate about what happened.

woman and man at a dinner table

Kimiko: Life is short, so have fun together and make many memories…that would be the BEST life!!  
Kihei: Trust, Laugh, Live… do things together and for each other.

With a combined 90 years of marriage, it is encouraging and heartwarming to hear Jack, Doug, and Kimiko’s stories about their enduring love for their partners.