The stories behind some of Baltimore's most notable couples

Inside the relationships of some of Baltimore's most prominent couples.

The course of true love never did run smooth. A relationship might start in elementary school, on a blind date — or through a vision seen in a pile of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. It might overcome an exhausting NFL schedule, a long-distance separation or hair in the sink. Sun staff surveyed prominent local couples — ranging from their 20s to their 70s — about how they met, why it still works and who takes out the trash.

Lynne Brick, 60, and husband Victor Brick, 63

Co-founders and owners of Brick Bodies

How they met: At the gym at Towson University in 1974. "As she walked under the basket through the court, someone whistled and she turned and smiled, and I thought she was smiling right at me. I turned to my buddy and I said 'See that girl? I'm going to marry her," says Victor.

When they knew it was love: "The moment that I was smitten, I guess was the first moment we met," Lynne says.

Pet peeves: Victor: "She likes to walk in front of me and lead even though she has no idea where she's going." Lynne: While her husband is a great storyteller, "some of his stories ramble on and on."

Balancing time demands: "We have Starbucks dates where we talk about each other's schedules, what's going well and we have a pow wow," says Lynne.

How they split the housework: "The last one up makes the bed," says Victor. But as for the bigger chores, the busy couple hires help to optimize their time so they don't miss the big moments. "Our kids played college basketball and professionally overseas and we never missed a game."

Why it still works: Mutual respect. "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses," says Lynne. "When the other one is weak, the other is strong."

—Brittany Britto

Zach Britton, 28, and Courtney Britton, 28

Zach is the Orioles closer; Courtney is a lawyer

How they met: No rushing into anything for these two. "We met in elementary school," at Sulphur Springs Elementary, in Canyon Country, Calif., says Zach. "I guess it was in fourth grade." Adds Courtney, "He picked on me a lot."

When they knew it was love: "High school," says Courtney. "We were living in different states, but we were friends in high school. That was ... when I started thinking, 'Oh, maybe.'" Adds Zach, "We actually didn't start dating until she was in college."

Pet peeves: "Zach's so stubborn," says Courtney. (That's a good trait for a closer, who needs the self-confidence to overcome high-pressure situations.) "We're both stubborn," counters Zach.

Balancing time demands: "We're still working on it," says Courtney, who put her law degree on hold after the birth of their son, Zander, now 15 months. "It's just about the time that Zach is with us — make the most out of it, so that we have those family moments. During the season, we don't get a lot of time to spend together."

How they split the housework: "She takes the bulk of it on when I'm playing, since I'm not at home," says Zach. "When I get home, I try to do as much around the house as I possibly can."

Why it still works: "Knowing that we're not only best friends, but she's my wife, too, I think that helps a lot," says Zach. "When you can actually have that friendship, too, and you like to do things, like to have fun with each other – I think that's important." Adds Courtney, "We both like to take our down time and be homebodies together."

—Chris Kaltenbach

Justin Forsett, 30, and wife Angela Forsett, 29

Justin's a Ravens running back; Angela's a coach at Crossfit Owings Mills

How they met: During study hall freshman year at University of California-Berkeley. "We ... started off as just friends. But I could tell that she was smitten at first sight," says Justin. Emails Angela, "I was dating someone else, but Justin was super-funny, so we instantly clicked."

When they knew it was love: "Summer before our sophomore year," says Angela. "We had both just got done with relationships and we were such great friends. He was so easy to talk to and was genuinely the nicest person I'd met. And it didn't hurt that he had a scooter and I didn't have any wheels."

Pet peeves: Justin: "If there is any hair in the sink, that drives me crazy." Angela: "I hate the way he eats! … Like he chews soup. Who does that?!?"

Balancing time demands: With sons Judah, 3, and Zion, who turns 1 on Sunday, "We're both firmly rooted in our faith, and our family," says Justin. "That really keep us going, keeping our priorities in order." A great nanny doesn't hurt, says Angela.

How they split the housework: Not equitably. "The only thing I have to do is take out the trash," says Justin. Agrees Angela, "In-season, he just doesn't have the mental or physical energy to help. In the off-season, he will help more with dishes and picking up toys."

Why it still works: "Justin is pretty chill, so we don't argue that much," says Angela. "We rely a lot on our faith. Compromise, teamwork, making sure that we know we're serving each other, serving the family," says Justin.

Alone time helps, too, adds Angela, so the two "remember why we got married in the first place."

—Chris Kaltenbach

Charlie Gjerde, 50, and wife Lori Gjerde, 45

Owners of Huck's American Craft

How they met: Charlie's accountant was engaged to a chef at Claddagh Pub, where Lori worked. Charlie met Lori "somehow at one point, but I didn't know who he was," Lori says. Charlie sent his accountant to Claddagh to ask Lori out for him. "I'm not a big fan of rejection," he says. Lori first said no, then changed her mind. Charlie showed up for the date at Claddagh wearing khakis and a brown shirt, and a bartender mistook him for a UPS driver. But the date went well enough that they went out again the next day. Exactly one year later, they got married in Las Vegas.

When they knew it was love: After a trip to California, a few months into their relationship. "That's when we came back and realized it was the real deal," Lori says. Charlie broke up with Lori for about 24 hours right after the trip but then realized he loved her.

Pet peeve: Lori hates when Charlie chews gum. And Charlie can't stand when Lori talks to him from another room.

Balancing time demands: "We wing it," Lori says. "It's just day by day; there's never really a plan. It's a lot of support with each other." With stakes in four restaurants, Lori and Charlie sometimes go an entire day without seeing each other. Lori's mother helps them take care of their daughters, Delilah, 13, and Emmy, 10.

How they split the housework: Charlie is "Mr. Mom" in the morning — he gets the kids ready and takes them to school. Lori does laundry and cleans.

Why it still works: "There's a lot of laughter in our house," Charlie says.

Sarah Meehan

Jessica Henkin, 41, and husband Aaron Henkin, 42

Jessica is a school administrator and co-founder of Stoop Storytelling; Aaron is the co-creator of "The Signal" on WYPR.

How they met: Set up by a mutual friend. "Neither of us wanted to go on a blind date," Aaron says. "But we went out to dinner at Helmand to make Andrea [the friend] happy, and then I walked Jess to The Brewer's Art, where she was meeting people. As I said, 'goodnight,' she planted a big one on me."

When they knew it was love: "I was living in New York, and Aaron courted me with old-fashioned typewritten letters," Jessica says. "He wrote me maybe half-a-dozen letters in three months. The first letter was a real game-changer. I still have it."

Pet peeves: Aaron: "Jess is very fastidious. ... My stuff ends up in the basement. I don't have a man cave. I have a man corner." "I drive and park like an old grandma." Jessica accuses him of the same thing, but in a whole lot more words.

How they split the housework: "I do most of the fix-it repairs," Aaron says, and "Jess prepares lists of tasks. I will often write 'Ignore list' at the bottom and cross it out, as the one thing I've gotten done that day."

Balancing time demands: "Once we had kids, [Abby, 9, and Charlie, 8] we pretty much gave up on having a social life as a couple," Aaron says. "On Monday and Friday nights, I hang out with my bands. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, she does improv [comedy]. Most of our time together we spend coordinating schedules."

Why it still works: "It's not a terrible chore to be married," Jess says. "It's still really enjoyable to sit and watch TV and do nothing together. Marrying Aaron is the best choice I ever made."

—Mary Carole McCauley

Francis X. Kelly Jr., 76, and Janet Kelly, 75

Philanthropists

How they met: At a mixer at Villanova University. "When I first saw her, I knew she was the right one for me," says Francis.

When they knew it was love: While Francis knew it at first sight, Janet needed more time: "He was intriguing and exciting, and I was anxious to go out with him, but I didn't know him. I was more cautious." After their first date, though, the rest was history.

Pet peeves: Janet: "He likes to be a little bit late." Francis: "She warns me when she thinks I'm not doing the right thing and she's almost always right," said Francis Kelly. "I don't always like it, but I always take her advice."

Balancing time demands: With their sons now adults and working for the family firm — Kelly & Associates Insurance Group — much of the couple's joint responsibilities involve spending time with their grandchildren, which means bouncing in between their home in Hunt Valley and their home in Vero Beach, Florida, Janet says.

How they split the housework: "He does some of the things he likes to do, and I do what I like to do, and it all works," Janet says.

Why it still works: Janet narrowed it down to love, respect and support. Francis agreed. "The biggest thing is I love her now more than I loved her when I met her more than 50 years ago," he says. "And as long as I do what I'm told and I'm not late, I'm OK."

—Brittany Britto

Patrice Sanders, 43, and husband Monte Sanders, 48

Patrice is WBFF's morning news anchor; Monte is a personal trainer

How they met: Monte, who has worked with the likes of Ravens great Ray Lewis, was appearing on WBFF back in 2006. He and Patrice chatted — and hit it off immediately. "I'd never heard of him," recalls Patrice, who asked Monte to put her through the same training regimen Lewis endured.

When they knew it was love: "It was love at first sight for him," says Patrice — a statement Monte doesn't bother denying. "We were really professional, trainer and client," he says. "The more we got to know each other, I couldn't help but to love her." Agrees Patrice, "we were training friends, and then it kind of evolved into something else."

Pet peeves: Monte: She can't slow down — "She's a go-getter." Patrice: "He can be a little messy. ... He's great at washing and drying the clothes, but somehow they never make it from the dryer to back on the hangers until I finish it."

Balancing time demands: "It's definitely been the challenge, ever since [23-month-old daughter] Naomi came along," Patrice says. "I'm home by noon most days. The way Monte's work is split up, he's often home a lot during the day as well. So we get to spend a lot of quality time together during the day." Adds Monte, "the only down side is, we normally go to sleep about 8:30 at night."

How they split the housework: "That's an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing," Patrice says. Agrees Monte, "Yes, I cook, clean, wash dishes." So the work is split 50-50? Hedges Patrice, "for the most part, maybe kinda sorta."

Why it still works: "We have to spend time with each other. We call them our date days, since nights end early for us," Patrice says.

—Chris Kaltenbach

John Shields, 64, and husband John Gilligan, 48

Shields is the chef and owner of Gertrude's; Gilligan is Gertrude's director of group & private events

How they met: Volunteering at the Center for AIDS Services in Oakland, Calif., on Thanksgiving Day, 1993. "There we are cutting pies when this tall drink of water comes in, John Gilligan," Shields says. "[My friend] Sandy — ever the yenta — she's going, 'He's cute! He's cute! Look at him!'" They ate Thanksgiving dinner together.

When they knew it was love: "I had a mystical experience," Shields says of their first Thanksgiving. "I had a vision in the mashed potatoes that I was going to marry this guy." Gilligan took longer — until his roommate overheard him talking with Shields and teased him. "That made me realize I was denying what was going on," he says.

Pet peeves: Shields dawdles. Gilligan leaves recyclables in a pile for Shields to collect.

Balancing time demands: They respect each other's interests. Gilligan competes in triathlons, while Shields is spiritual and likes reading. They set aside a few days several times a year to get away.

How they split the housework: "You make sure you know which day the housekeeper is coming," Shields says.

Why it still works: "John is my best friend," Gilligan says. In the beginning, "It wasn't that usual romantic feeling; it was more like, 'This person is so important to me, I need to have him in my life.' That feeling is always there." Says Shields: "We both have very separate things that we do so we're not like all over top of each other," Shields said. "I almost can't imagine having a relationship otherwise because everything that we do, we know, we share, it's part of our joint lives together."

—Sarah Meehan

Christian Siriano, 30, and fiance Brad Walsh, 33

Siriano is a fashion designer; Walsh is a DJ, music producer and photographer

How they met: Eight years ago when Walsh was writing a story for Gawker about the fashion designer, who was about to appear on "Project Runway." The two wound up going on a couple of dates as a result of the article.

When they knew it was love: "We knew right away [that it was love]," Siriano says. "I think I knew really, really quickly—like the first two days we were together."

Pet peeves: "Brad tells me that I don't know how to load the dishwasher," Siriano says.

Balancing time demands: "We try and chill," on the weekends, Siriano says." We work so hard during the week." The two recently bought a weekend home in Connecticut. "We go there to get away from the city," he says. The two also enjoy watching TV series together — "funny, quirky, weird comedies" like "Difficult People" or political dramas like "House of Cards."

How they split up the housework: Both love home décor and cleaning. "We never fight about housework," Siriano said.

Why it still works: Longevity and communication. "You learn about what presses each others buttons," Siriano said. "You have to really like each other. You have to really like talking to each other."

— John-John Williams IV

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