'The Vow' couple speaks in Columbus

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 13, 2013 

Kim, left, and Krickitt Carpenter address the gathering for the annual Right From the Start luncheon at the St. Luke Ministry Center Tuesday. The story of the New Mexico couple's marriage was the inspiration for the 2012 movie, "The Vow." They have written a book about their life together, and travel to tell their story of commitment and perseverance.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

Kim Carpenter said Tuesday too many couples take the easy way out rather than working to make the marriage succeed.

"They want to throw in the towel over spilt milk," he said. "People change over time. You have to adapt."

He and Krickitt, his wife of 20 years, were addressing an audience of approximately 400 people in the St. Luke United Methodist Church Ministry Center at the Right From the Start annual luncheon.

A fictionalized version of the couple's life together was told in the 2012 hit movie, "The Vow."

The Carpenters had been married for just two months when in 1993 they were in a serious automobile wreck. Krickitt Carpenter was given little chance to live and went into a coma.

When she awoke, she had no memory of the 18 months leading up to the accident. She told medical personnel she was not married. She did not recognize her husband.

Even a wedding video did not spark her memory.

"I had no idea who he was," she told the audience.

Kim Carpenter set out to win his wife's love all over again.

A counselor suggested they begin to date again. The result was a second wedding. They now have two children.

"Now, I've got 20 years of memories," she said.

Kim Carpenter added, "I was committed to the promise I had made -- until death do us part."

He said couples need to nurture a relationship like someone would a garden. Work hard at it, he said, and the garden is pristine and beautiful. Don't, and things pile up and get ugly.

He said a lack of commitment in fragmented families is a big reason "the world is in such a mess."

He said more programs such as Right From the Start are needed.

Right From the Start is a family and marriage initiative of which the Pastoral Institute, NeighborWorks, New Horizons and the Family Center and Enrichment and Services program are community partners.

"Our goal is to strengthen families in Columbus," said Molly Scarbrough, Right From the Start chairwoman.

Right From the Start director Carmen Overton told the audience that 2013 has been a big year for the program, with around 3,000 individuals being served. That, she said, is 1,000 more than in 2012.

She said many local residents are "experiencing healthier relationships because of Right From the Start."

Scarbrough added the local teen pregnancy rate had dropped 6 percent since Right From the Start began four years ago.

"We value marriage," she said "We value family."

Right From the Start is about building relationships through programs such as abstinence education in the high schools, a boot camp for dads workshop, a fathering class for incarcerated men, pre-marital education classes and counseling.

Right From the Start is committed to serving as an advocate for lifelong, healthy marriages, promoting that it is imperative for mothers and fathers to be active in their children's lives and working to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Incoming board chairwoman Linda Shinkle gave some reasons why Right From the Start is needed. She said the teen birth rate for Georgia in 2011 was 18.9 percent and in Muscogee County it was 32.3 percent.

It was also noted that this region has one of the highest divorce rates in the Southeast, with approximately 1,000 divorces filed annually, and that more than 50 percent of children living in Muscogee County are living in broken or never formed families.

Talking about making a marriage work, Kim Carpenter told a story about meeting a 93-year-old man who had been married for 71 years. He asked the man for the secret of his successful marriage.

The man said, "Keep the fire alive, baby."

Kim Carpenter told those gathered not to be afraid to try new things and to create new memories in their marriage.

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