BYU sweethearts of 42 years share marriage story, secrets to happy relationship

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Twenty-one-year-old Carma Bennett tried twice before successfully joining the Intermediate American Ballroom Dance class during Winter Semester 1980, she said. Little did she know because of that class, she would change her last name to Huggard only six months later.

Carma Huggard said she prayed about serving a mission, but received the answer “no” every time. She enrolled in classes and got every class she wanted except for ballroom dance. Students in 1980 had to go in person to add classes and so she persistently went to the Wilkinson Student Center until the class was successfully added. 

Carma Huggard said she remembered thinking, “My future husband might be in this class.”

From the beginning, Carma Huggard said she had her eye on four different boys in the class, Gary Huggard being one of them. Gary Huggard said he did not notice anyone specific until one day, Carma Huggard showed up in a purple dress that caught his eye. 

Gary Huggard said typically in the class they would change partners every few minutes, but the next class period they had a test and would be practicing with their partner the entire hour. 

Gary Huggard said he saw Carma Huggard and asked her to be his partner and she accepted. According to Carma Huggard, this was the first time they had spoken. 

Gary Huggard said after that class they saw each other every day. Carma Huggard said they met in January, danced together in February and got engaged on March 25. 

When Gary Huggard first asked Carma to be his wife, Carma Huggard said she felt nervous and asked if she could pray about it first. After praying about it, Gary Huggard said they both felt good about it and began to plan their wedding.

According to the Huggards, they were married on July 17, 1980 in the Salt Lake City Temple. More than 42 years later, telling the story of how they met, Gary Huggard said, “I just adore this woman more than ever.”

Together the Huggards have seven children — six daughters and one son. Their daughter Emma Lyon said, “Something that influenced how I picked a partner is seeing how my parents always support each other … I also am always in awe of how selfless they are, towards each other and their children. They put each others’ needs first.”

Gary Huggard said Carma got her “PHT degree” meaning she “put hubby through” by leaving school and working at the bank to pay for Gary’s schooling. It was during the 1980 recession and Carma Huggard said she felt blessed to get the job. She said she would still love to go back to school one day to complete her degree. 

Gary Huggard said he went through the BYU ROTC and graduated in economics. He said he was commissioned by the Air Force where he served for 24 years. He said after retiring from the Air Force he started working as a defense contractor. 

Carma Huggard said, “The very best advice that I could probably give, is kind of the same as when (Gary) gave me my ring … as long as we both look to Heavenly Father we will be one, and that sounds really simplistic and stuff, but you know what, after almost 43 years of marriage I think that’s the key.”

Carma Huggard said anyone will go through rough patches as a husband and wife, but looking to God makes everything so much better. 

“It’s more important to be trusted than to be loved,” Gary Huggard said. It is possible to love someone without trusting them, but trusting someone and their faithfulness to their partner and to God is more important in the end, he said.

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