Karen and Richard share their hearts and souls in this deeply moving story of their soul connection and the many life challenges they have come through together. You can visit Karen on her Facebook page, Absolutely Positive.

How did you meet, and how did you know this relationship was special? We met in high school. We were 15 and 16. Our first encounter wasn’t an earth-shaking experience; it was almost as though we could have passed by each other without a second look.

Richard: As I’ve looked back on the experience many times, I can only say that to me, it would have been like walking down the same path many times and never stopping to notice the beautiful flower that’s slightly hidden by the foliage around it.

Karen: All it took was for both of our best friends to say, “Hey did you know Karen/Richard likes you?” And whether or not it was true, it caused us to look at each other differently.

Richard: I stopped outside her art class. The room was busy with activity, but I was able to motion her to the door and have her step into the hallway. I asked her for a hug and well… the rest is history.

Karen: It was as simple as him making me laugh: once I saw how hilarious he was, he stole my heart. He was also different from most boys that age. Sure, he wanted the same things all boys want, but he cared and was compassionate and loving like no one I had ever met before. He was gentle and kind and considerate of my feelings and lack of experience. We grew up together and learned how to love each other to the point where, after 27 years of being together, we know each other’s bodies like we know our own. However, we are always learning and experiencing new things about each other and that keeps it exciting and fresh.

Describe some of the soulful experiences you’ve had together.

Richard: To me, “soulful” means “the depth of our being.” When I think of soulful experiences, there are many and they reach many different levels.

Karen: Some of the things we have gone through have been major, soul-shaping life events that shook us to our core and really made us rethink and reevaluate our relationship and ourselves, and each one held very important lessons.

Richard: An important occurrence was prior to even meeting my love. Upon looking through some of her old photo albums I came across a picture of her in a red top standing at her landing. It was like I was zapped! I instantly recalled the dreams I had when I was as young as 8 or 9. It would take much more to explain this, but in short, I would often ask God simple questions like, “Who will I marry?” “How many children will I have?” “Will I always be short?” You know, simple questions a 9-year-old would ask. Seeing that picture was a reaffirmation of what God told me long before. Alas, it didn’t change the fact that I am still short.

Karen: There have been three major “soul-shaping events” in our relationship. The first was the death of our firstborn son Dylan. He was only 13 days old. His passing struck us both so hard and wounded us very deeply. It caused us both to question God, and even though I was never a religious person, I somehow knew that it was happening for a reason, and that’s how I got through it. But we faced the whole ordeal like children walking through a scary maze. Every corner brought tears and fear, but at the same time there was such beauty and hope and love.

Dylan had eyes that were so wise that somehow spoke to us: “Don’t worry, everything is going to be ok… I’m ok.” When I held him in my arms while the doctor pulled the plug, I felt him leave… It was incredibly difficult but so beautiful at the same time.

Richard: Our second child was born 11 months after Dylan. Miranda was healthy and Karen spent so much time with her. She didn’t smother her; instead she taught her. Miranda excelled in language and art very young. And I was so incredibly proud and grateful! However, our world came crashing down again when Miranda turned 2…

Karen was 8 months pregnant when the doctors told us there was a problem. Our unborn daughter Sarah would not survive, and if she did, it wouldn’t be for long. She had a fatal neurological disease. This time the wound struck even deeper than we could have ever realized. I had a nervous breakdown. I was so angry with God!! I lashed out and in turn hardened my heart. There was no way I was going to be hurt by “unforeseen circumstances” again! What that did (I realized much later) was close down much of the love and affection I needed to give my children and especially my hurting wife. Like a trooper, she did what she had to to raise the kids and keep us fed. The years brought us away from our original home to a new city, and then again to another city much farther away from friends and family. Karen and I had two more children. Cassidy was born 3 years after Sarah, and Connor, our son, was born 3 years after that. Little did I know that Karen was suffering depression after the birth of Cassidy. She kept it well hidden and overcame it eventually. All the stresses of the growing family and the lack of family support nearby were hard on her and, to make matters worse, I wasn’t very supportive to her needs. Not understanding her and being rather unsympathetic was the beginning of our most life-changing event ever!

I’m not proud of the fact that what spiraled from that point was an affair that nearly destroyed our lives and almost cost Karen hers. It had been going on for about 6 months before I told Karen, and I was convinced that I was better off without my wife. You know, “the grass is always greener” syndrome. It had gotten so bad that we didn’t even like who each other had become. We had so much anger and resentment towards one another. Shortly after I confessed, we did get back together for a few months but Karen was on an emotional roller coaster that left me very confused. I felt guilty for what I had put both ladies through and, in hindsight, I let the guilt over one of them overpower the one that mattered most.

We separated and I moved out for about 4 months, during which time I rekindled my relationship with the other woman and Karen also met someone else. I saw her beginning to change and become so confident and vibrant and sexy again. It made me crazy, and I realized how despicable I had been and what I was doing to her.

It was only at the depths of my selfishness and self-pity that I realized I had stomped on the beautiful flower, the love of my life! It’s truly a sick feeling at times even to recall a single moment. Even writing about it brings urges to shorten every sentence or skip details. What I realized was that although we all are changing and growing over time, it’s hard to admit that when our relationship with our loved ones is breaking down—it might just be the one in the mirror that has the problem.

Karen: Richard started coming around more and expressed that he wasn’t happy and that he wanted to be with me again. It was difficult to let go of the relationship I had started with the other man, and the whole experience was the most excruciating thing I have ever been through in my life (even more so than the deaths of our children) and it has taken me 4 years to deal with it. I still have bad days and memories and questions that flood my brain, but I know in my heart that Richard and I were meant to work it out.

Richard: It’s crazy to think that we both almost began new lives with other people! But we both knew that we couldn’t make a happier life than what we could make for ourselves and our kids. I don’t even want to think about how things would have turned out. I know we wouldn’t be where we are today, spiritually or mentally or even business wise for that matter. And I’m thankful that Karen didn’t just quickly accept me back. She wanted proof that I was sure, that I had changed, that I was willing to do what it took to find the root of this pain. It was the hardest but the greatest experience that we have both ever been through. At the beginning, we had some counselling and some breakthroughs and then we went to an amazing seminar called “Choices.” There is where I found many of my deep-seated wounds and realized my self-defeating games. We learned to communicate again and create an intimacy that we have never had before. We understood that we always loved each other, but for a short time, we just forgot!

Karen: I have to add a very important part to all of this. When Richard opened up to me and apologized for the hurt he caused, he allowed himself to be vulnerable. He cried and cried, and I felt his pain and I truly knew that in his heart he was remorseful of all he had done. And that made it much easier to forgive him. I actually felt electricity when we first got back together. It was an amazing thing to find that love again and to regain that trust and respect for each other. We have been like newlyweds and are very happy together now. We still have moments every once in a while where we fall into old patterns, but when that happens we go on a date night, and usually just reconnecting and talking straightens things out.

How do your children benefit from your relationship? Our children have benefited by seeing how much we love each other. They often get “grossed out” that we are kissing and touching so much, but it’s a good thing for our children to see that. They know that their Daddy loves their Mommy and isn’t going to leave her again.

What advice can you offer other couples to help them keep their connection strong? There are two main ingredients to a loving relationship: Honesty and communication. Talk about everything, and as soon as possible if you notice things are starting to change. Change is a good thing and it’s inevitable, but don’t be afraid to discuss the feelings and thoughts that you might be having. Don’t let it get to the point where you are resentful of each other. Have fun together! Laugh with each other and learn to laugh at yourself. Humour makes life’s difficulties so much easier to bear. Remember why you love the other person. Show and be your best to each other, and encourage the other to be their best. Flirt! Go on dates! Often! You are going to have arguments, and you are going to disagree. But what’s more important—being right or being happy? Learn to embrace each other as a unique individual, agree to disagree on certain issues, and love each other where the other is at. And most of all, accept each other and the experiences you go through as growing experiences and learn to forgive—the other and yourself! We are humans who make mistakes, but are they really “mistakes” if they help you become a better person? We believe that all the things we have gone through have been important and necessary to bring us back to ourselves and to each other! Everything happens for a reason.

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for sharing your soulmate experience with us—we are inspired by your example of what a truly soulful connection is all about! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience, 52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love