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June 05, 2018 08:09 PM

Almost four decades after meeting in high school, these two formerly single friends have tied the knot after promising each other they would if they weren’t married to other people when they were 50.

Kimberley Dean and Ron Palmer met as students at Saint Agnes School in Minnesota almost 37 years ago. The friendship between Dean, the then-freshman, and Palmer, a senior, soon blossomed into a relationship. Yet, the two eventually went their separate ways once the school year came to a close.

“We dated most of my senior year, and we broke up but remained friends,” Palmer, 54, tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to go sow my oats, so to speak, and I was honest with her. I decided to go have my fun, and I thought girls were a dime a dozen. But I never developed as good as a relationship with anyone else as I had with her.”

A few years after they graduated, they married other people — Palmer’s marriage lasted seven years, and Kimberly’s marriage blessed her with two children, Kayla and Konner, before she got a divorce in 1998. But the two former lovebirds kept in contact throughout the years.

Kimberley Dean and Ron Palmer
Kimberley Dean

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“We’re very comfortable around each other,” Dean, 51, says. “We do the complete the sentences and laugh at each other’s stupid jokes kind of thing. We’re kind of like a yin and a yang.”

Palmer says Dean was always someone he could turn to, even while he was dating other women when they were just friends.

“I’d either get a letter or a phone call every once in awhile. When I was dating other girls and having issues, I would call her and she would help me through those times,” Palmer remembers. “It was a super good friendship, and it went back and forth like that for a long time.”

The two say they never went more than six months without talking to each other, and during one of their many conversations when they were in their 30s, the two made a pact: if they weren’t married again by the time they were both over the age of 50, they would marry each other.

The two figured it was just a light-hearted joke that would never come true, that is, until 2016, when Dean brought it up again, 37 years after they first dated.

“It was like a lightbulb went off,” Dean recalls. “And I told him, ‘Do you remember this stupid pact we made?’ “

Kimberley Dean and Ron Palmer
Kimberley Dean

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Palmer did remember, and the pact they made so long ago was about to make a real impact on both of their lives.

“She asked if we should try it again,” Palmer says. “I told her, you know, we’re risking a real incredible friendship, because if it doesn’t work this time, I don’t know how we could still remain friends.”

Though he was apprehensive, it didn’t take long for him to come around.

“I did hesitate when she asked me, but I could see we still had feelings for each other,” Palmer says. “And it’s been fantastic ever since.”

Kimberley Dean (2)

On New Year’s Eve 2017, Palmer proposed, and the couple married on June 1, completing the promise they made to each other so long ago.

“It started out as just a complete random joke and never in a million years did we both think we would have ended up in the same place at the right time,” Dean says. “Because I mean, we’ve been in different relationships, and now here we are!”

The newlyweds want others to remember that when they break up with someone, they don’t have to become enemies — stay friends when you can, because you never know what awaits in the future.

“When it comes to any type of a relationship, be it friendship or a relationship that you have with a partner, don’t give up,” Dean says. “We put it on the line, and I’m glad that it worked out. We’re still friends, but we’re married. So don’t give up.”

When asked if anything felt different now that they are married, Dean says things are similar, except with one special difference.

“It’s pretty much the same,” she says. “Only happier!”

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