It was the summer of 2011 when Jaci joined CatholicMatch. There was a little bit of skepticism on the part of the then-23-year-old from the Pensacola area of Florida. Safety was the primary concern, so she decided to limit her subscription to one month.
Jaci's view of online dating quickly changed for the better, and not just because she liked the safety features put in place by CatholicMatch. An even bigger reason was that a Navy sailor, soon to be stationed in Pensacola, contacted her in that first month.
"We got to know each other over a period of three months through emails and phone calls," Jaci recalled. When Marc arrived in Florida, they went out for pizza and frozen yogurt. "We were having such a god time that we decided to go to a park to continue talking and hanging out," she said. "Without realizing that time was flying we stayed out until 3a.m. just talking."
Marc did not have to deploy in the ensuing two years that he and Jaci continued to date, but his work schedule was a challenge. He began work at 4:30a.m. each day, making evening dates difficult, and often had events to organize on the weekend. Within this challenge though, lay the path for Marc and Jaci to make their relationship stronger.
"It taught us that even though we made each other happy, we had to make ourselves happy first," Jaci said. "I learned to remain an independent person and if he wasn't around to join me for a dinner out with friends, I made sure that I still went out and enjoyed myself. Even though it sounds a strange thing to develop during a relationship, we continued to grow as individuals, which helped enrich our time together."
Marc was not only loyal to his military unit, but to his family and his friends, and now Jaci was on that list too. Jaci explained that she admired his genuineness: "Marc didn't play any head games--he cared for me and let me know. I never had to guess how he felt about us."
Marc's sincerity was revealed even on the first date, when he told Jaci "I think I'm going to marry you one day." On the two-year anniversary of that date, Marc made that statement prophetic.
"Marc's younger brother Ben was in town on our anniversary," Jaci recalled. "The three of us went out for pizza and ice cream." It was a re-creation of what they did on their first date, and then Ben asked to go see the sunset on the beach. It turned out that Marc's classmate from the Naval Academy had set up a picnic, with Jaci's favorite chocolate and wine on the beach.
"We walked past the picnic and Marc got down on one knee and expressed how much he cared for me, and if I would spend my life with him." Jaci said yes, (Ben got a ride home with Marc's friend), and the newly engaged couple spent some time alone on the beach with wine, chocolate and each other.
Marc and Jaci were married in Sarasota a few months later. He has since transitioned from active duty to the reserves, and they have relocated to Connecticut, where he works as a boarding school teacher.
The Naval Academy continues to remain a big part of their lives. Jaci's brother is now attending Annapolis, and she and Marc continue to stay in touch with their many military friends. Most important, the values imparted by the Academy shaped their relationship.
"I love Marc's passion for life," Jaci said. "I have never met anyone who looks forward to going on a 15-mile run or chopping wood. Marc reminds me to enjoy whatever makes me happy, regardless of how others may perceive me. Our story is perfect and we couldn't be happier that God led us to one another."
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