Love Is in the Air in Alexandria

Love Is in the Air in Alexandria

Couples share their secrets to success.

Peter and Jenny Wintermute have been married for 15 years.

Peter and Jenny Wintermute have been married for 15 years.

“Trust and the ability to communicate are key to a successful relationship.”

— Bob Eifert on his 45-year relationship with Michael Curry

As Valentine’s Day approaches on Feb. 14, the second to be celebrated during the pandemic, couples across the city are making plans to honor their spouses, partners and sweethearts. But just as the pandemic produced myriad challenges for businesses and families, so too were couples faced with changing dynamics in their relationships. Seven Alexandria couples share their secrets to keeping their love alive.


Marion Brunken and Susan Haskew

Marion: “We met at a function at AlexRenew five years ago. We chatted about living in Del Ray and in time realized we have things in common like hiking, camping and gardening. On July 20, we will celebrate three years of marriage. The pandemic showed us even more what a good match we are. I’m a better person with Susan.”

Susan: “I love that Marion is an outdoor person. She is active, happy and energetic and wants to do things all the time. We both enjoy a lot of the same things and that is important to me. You have to keep a relationship exciting. We are just very lucky to have found each other.”


Bill and Ruth Cleveland

Ruth: “We have been married 48 years and now have eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. My advice to newlyweds is to be best friends first, then lovers, then continue to work together. Marriage is a partnership. Share everything, be open to each other and no lies.”

Bill: “The secret to a long and happy marriage is to take things one day at a time.”


Jackie and Andres Maldonado

Andres: “What is not great about Jackie? She is the most devoted mother and wife. She is everything to our kids which makes her everything to me.”

Jackie: “I love that Andres is so hard working and all he does for our family and to provide for us. The pandemic with kids has been a huge curve ball as was the transition from one to two kids. But Andres is very funny and so much fun to be around and that gets us through. We will be married six years on Feb. 20. Nothing exciting planned. Maybe we will order food once the kids are asleep.”


Jamie and Becca Branch

Jamie: “Becca has a very big heart and keeps me in line. I can always tell from the look in her eyes when I need to do something. My best advice to other couples is to be patient, listen, and spend time together. Find something you both love to do and do it together. And it helps if you learn to cook.”

Becca: “We met in college at a bar at Ole Miss. We have been together almost nine years and married for almost three. It has been great to share so much time together. What I love most about Jamie is that he is very sincere and very patient … and I need someone with a lot of patience.”


Bob Eifert and Michael Curry

Bob: “We have been together for 45 years now. Gay marriage was not legal at the time and over the years marriage was never a huge issue for us. But as we approached retirement we learned that we had to get married in order to share retirement benefits. So after being together for 38 years, we got married and in July we will celebrate seven years of marriage. Trust and the ability to communicate are key to a successful relationship.”

Michael: “We have been in love for many, many years and had some difficult times but it is important to believe in each other and support each other.”


Angeli and Max Miller

Max: “We went to school together at Loudoun High School but didn’t get together until we met after college on the bike trail. We have been married for 17 years now and my favorite thing about Angeli is her organization and planning skills.”

Angeli: “It is important for us to do our own thing. We do not always have to be together. We get to be individuals and have our own hobbies and hang out with our own friends. My favorite thing about Max is his great sense of humor.”


Peter and Jenny Wintermute

Peter: “We met through a friend in Dewey Beach and I proposed at the Daytona 500 in 2004. My favorite thing about Jenny is what a wonderful mother she is to our children. It’s not easy juggling outside family and in-laws.”

Jenny: “Peter and I have been married 15 years now. I love what an amazing father Peter is. He is very involved and supportive of his wife and children. It is a challenge making time for one another when there is work and children and other responsibilities, but it is important to the success of a relationship.”