It should come as no surprise then, on St. Patrick’s Day 2000, Ben Biery knew his life was about to change. OK, he didn’t know it then, but Michelle Biery sure did.
Michelle and Ben went on their first date then. The two Walsh University graduates were fixed up by friends.
“I called my roommate on the way home that night I met him and said, ‘I just met the man I’m going to marry,’ ” Michelle said. “He was very easy to talk to, and he had a great sense of humor. We just had a lot in common.”
Ben admits he knew soon after that he would marry Michelle. They were married in October 2001. Ben helps his father run the family business. Michelle is a stay-at-home mom raising their two daughters.
They have similarities, but it’s the differences they appreciate and laugh about.
“She’s a morning person. I’m a night owl,” Ben said. “She’s a very organized person and … she’s helped to make me more organized. (Michelle said, simply, Ben is not organized.) She’s helped to make me view things differently than I would have 10 years ago.”
Ben and Michelle live across the street from his parents. The family unit is important to Dennis and Lynne Biery. Lynne said she and Dennis watched siblings go through divorces, and “it aged both of our parents to watch that happen. It was hard on their marriages, too.”
In nearly 50 years of marriage, there are going to be disagreements that come up. Lynne remembered a real doozy with Dennis. Keep in mind that over the years, Lynne worked for Dennis in the family business.
Back in 1996, Lynne was contemplating buying the old Sebring Mansion and revitalizing it into a bed-and-breakfast. Dennis didn’t like the idea.
“I talked to him about it, and he said no,” Lynne said. “I went to the bank, and I had to do some work for the travel agency (she owned). I drove out of the lot of the bank, and it was a beautiful sunny day. I called Dennis and told him I was going to sign on the line with the bank to buy the mansion. The other end of the phone went very quiet. He didn’t hang up. I knew he wasn’t happy. It took him awhile to get over that.”
Lynne saw something in that old run-down mansion that Dennis did not. Now it’s a thriving 10,000-square-foot inn and a romantic getaway. That, Lynne believes, is the essence of a strong marriage.
“You have to realize the gifts the other person has,” Lynne said. “We are all strong-willed. We always laugh about that. We’re all self-starters and energetic. Some times, that means things come to a head. It’s always worked out, and worked well.”
The Bierys knew each other in high school. Dennis graduated from Louisville in 1961. Lynne in ’63. They both attended Ohio State, which is where they started dating. They make time for each another by doing yoga together at home and dining at the mansion.
“It takes a while to respect each other’s gifts,” Lynne said. “When you’re newly married, you think you can read each other’s minds. You can’t. You have to communicate.”