Ron and Barbara Christensen were married for 26 years, from 1955 until 1981. When they divorced, they made a pact to remain friends. "We felt there was no sense in tearing the family apart just because our lives had changed," says Ron. "We decided we didn't have to hate each other." Their paths crossed several times each year when their family gathered for birthdays and holidays.
Ron explains that "different interests" drew them apart, along with the fact that he drifted away from their shared religion and participated in activities that "were contrary to her way of thinking."
After their divorce, Barbara accompanied quite a few friends to different dances for singles. She met and dated other people. She also kept busy working full time. She received and rejected two marriage proposals. "I really wasn't interested in getting married to anyone. I was happy staying active. I didn't want to just marry for companionship," she recalls.
Ron was married to another woman from 1985 until 1987. In 2002, 21 years after their divorce, he asked Barbara for a date. "We even held hands," he remembers.
After their first date in more than two decades, Ron and Barbara kept dating. They found themselves getting closer.
Over the years, when Barbara mentioned Ron in her prayers, the thought that "miracles can happen" would often cross her mind. "Then I would let it go," she says. Before their first date in 2002, unbeknownst to Barbara, Ron had returned to his former faith. When he walked into a religion class where Barbara was enrolled, "I saw the look of shock on her face. I thought she was going to collapse." says Ron.
Their shared belief that they would be together after death provided Ron with fertile food for thought. "I did a lot of praying and soul-searching," he says. "If God saw that we didn't love each other enough to be married here, why would he want us to be together there?" was a question in his mind."
He wrote a letter to a church authority saying that he and his ex-wife were socializing together. He asked whether it was necessary for the two of them to marry again. "He replied that it was entirely up to me," Ron recalls.
After they began dating for the second time in their lives, Ron sensed Barbara wanted to be more than friends. Soon after, he asked her. "Have you ever considered us getting married again? Please think about it. I don't want an answer now." Later that day, she said yes.
Still, after 25 years apart, they were set in their ways. He had moved to a house in Kamas, while she still lived in their Salt Lake home. "After a lot of prayer and working together, I convinced her to keep her house in Salt Lake, but to move up to snow country with me," he says. He says that during their years apart, they were always complimentary about each other to their children and people who knew both of them. "Deep down in my heart, I knew that there was nobody that would love me any more than she loves me. I knew that we were more in love than ever the second time around."
On July 4, 2007, at a party with all of their children, Barbara displayed her new engagement ring. "Our kids gasped. They couldn't believe it. We know it is probably something they hoped for and wanted for as many years as we were divorced. They love us equally, and now we are back together," says Ron.
Ron and Barbara were married Sept. 1, 2007 — 52 years after they first said "I do" and 26 years after their divorce. They held a reception in their church near the home where they formerly lived in Salt Lake City. One of their sons served as best man. Another son flew in from Florida. He said, "How often can you go to your own parents' wedding?"
Maturity has contributed to their relationship. "When our kids were growing up, we quarreled constantly. We were immature," says Ron. "We appreciate each other more now that we are older." Barbara adds, "Instead of coming back with a negative comment, I've learned to walk away and ponder about it." Ron says he was more selfish and demanding of Barbara in their first marriage. "I was very possessive. But I learned through the years. Now I encourage her to go out and do things with friends. She needs that."
He became fully aware of how much their recent marriage had changed him on a snowy day a few months ago. "All the years I was single, I never got lonely in my house in Kamas," he says. But one day, after they were married, Barbara went to work for the day at a floral store in Salt Lake City. "There was a big snowstorm and she wasn't able to come back home. She stayed with our daughter. That night, I realized how lonely I was without her. When I was alone in my house I wondered, if something should happen to me, who would find me. But now she is here and we take care of each other."
Carolyn Campbell, of Salt Lake City, is a member of the Brighton 5th Ward. She is a mother of four, a grandmother of one and writes "Meet the Members" profiles for her ward's publication.