Melody Sims and Steve Stanley mourned together, and then they fell in love.
"Steve was in graduate school and so was my sister, and they dated for five years, and then she died of breast cancer," Melody says.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “I thought he was the best-looking and kindest person I had ever known in my life.”
He says: “I thought well, she’s fun and she’s got a big personality. There were not that many people in the room but it seemed full.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “We were getting ready to exchange our vows and the phone rang and we stopped everything and I went to answer the phone. It was Home Depot saying something we had ordered had come in.”
He says: “It was an hour or two hours before the wedding and she said, ‘We need to go wash the car. The car is dirty.’ We were getting ready to go wash the car and she said, ‘Why are we going to wash the car?’”
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: “Honesty, and always be friends.”
He says: “Don’t rush into it. And pick someone very different from yourself.”
Steve took a yearlong sabbatical from his doctorate program in molecular biology to care for her sister, Laine, and Melody was with her sister as much as she could be.
They talked on the phone and got together once or twice a month after Laine died, supporting each other through their loss.
"He took care of my sister while she died so I knew he was a real good person. But, see, he was grieving and so was I. He was like a brother to me. He was part of our family," Melody says. "I fixed him up on a couple of blind dates with my friends and they would say, 'Melody, he is so straight-laced and so quiet,'" she says.
About a year after Laine's death, Melody was working two or three jobs at a time. One of them was with M.M. Cohn.
"Cohn's was having their grand reopening and I was making 13,000 cookies. Every friend I had was helping me bake cookies because they wanted homemade, and I was making money," she says. "He showed up one day with my sister's KitchenAid mixer that sits on my counter today and said 'You might need this.'"
To thank him for his thoughtfulness, she bought Jimmy Buffett tickets.
"We went to see Jimmy Buffett and it started from there," she says. "It just kind of happened. I think I knew maybe before he did, but I was scared because this was a big step."
They dated for 11 years.
"We were business partners, we bought properties together," she says. "We lived in separate houses."
Much of their time together was spent flipping houses.
"All of our friends would call and say, 'Y'all want to go to the lake?' And we were laying tiles and painting houses and tearing out boards and stuff," she says.
Steve did a two-year post-doctoral program in Memphis and they took turns visiting each other on weekends.
"We ate at Corky's and we would get a rack of ribs and a setup for two because it was under $20 and that's all we had," she says.
When they were in North Little Rock, she cooked.
"I worked out every day and was on a strict diet and weighed about 180 pounds," Steve says. "I came back and I put on five pounds every year for 10 years. She's a very good cook."
Steve was a confirmed bachelor, so Melody maintained that she didn't want to get married.
"Secretly, though, I did want to get married," she says.
One morning she woke up and said, "Nope, I don't want to be your girlfriend anymore."
Steve's response was a simple, "OK."
They went to premarital counseling and since neither of them married before, they had no children and no financial concerns, their pastor told Steve he should probably get a tuxedo.
"He said, 'Steve, I think you're getting married,'" Melody says.
On Dec. 31, 2000, Steve set his alarm for 11:50 p.m. He woke up and proposed to Melody.
"We knew we were going to get engaged," he says. "I just thought it would be nice if we could start out our marriage plans on the first day of the millennium."
They intended to get married in May, when they were taking a trip to Italy that could double as their honeymoon.
"She's a little high strung -- and I told her maybe what we should do was to elope and then we could do a re-enactment in May. I told her maybe she would feel better if she was already actually married and there wasn't a lot of hoopla," says Steve, who is cool-as-a-cucumber composed all the time.
Melody didn't like that idea -- she wanted to involve her friends and his family. But her friends started talking about big parties and formal plans and she quickly changed her mind.
"I was like, 'I don't want any part of this. All I want is to marry Steve Stanley.' So we went to get our marriage license downtown on Jan. 17 and we didn't tell anybody," she says.
They invited Steve's parents, and their house painter -- who also happened to be a preacher -- officiated over the ceremony in the living room of their North Little Rock home on Jan. 20, 2001.
"We got married for the first time at 42 and 45 in our living room with my dog, Ceily, standing up with us and Ceily had a bridal veil and a tutu and seed pearls," Melody says.
Melody and Steve own Red Door Gallery, and Steve also works for the Department of Economic Development. They also own vacation rental property under the name Peapod, LLC.
"It's Peapod because we're two peas in a pod," Melody says. "We do everything together. I married my best friend. We have very different personalities -- he's an introvert and I'm not -- but ... it works for us."
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Melody and Steve Stanley fell in love after grieving the loss of Melody’s sister, who had dated Steve for five years. They dated for 11 years before exchanging their vows.
High Profile on 10/07/2018
Print Headline: Opposites attract, become like two peas in a pod