Background: Merilyn was born in the red clay hills of Alabama and moved to Texas with her family when she was fifteen. She was educated at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas. Her degrees are in psychology. She went on to be a professor at Lamar University, Port Arthur, Texas and opened a private practice called Howton Family Counseling. Merilyn and her husband Rick make their home in Spring, Texas. Together, they have six children and seven grandchildren.