Optimism, focus and ambition marked Bob's approach to online dating when he joined CatholicMatch, and those three factors all came together to give the 48-year-old from Fort Lauderdale a great adventure--and most importantly, a good Catholic spouse.
Bob heard about CatholicMatch from his parish bulletin. Even beyond faith, he had a clear idea of what he wanted in a spouse. "I am very attracted to Filipina women," he said. "I did simple search" and he found what he was looking for--ironically in Italy.
Marilou is 50-years-old and had emigrated from the Philippines 10 years earlier. She was joined by her brother and was successfully self-employed with a good network of stable contacts. She and Bob exchanged some online communication through CatholicMatch, and then went to Skype, so they could video chat.
This was in the early part of 2012, and even through video chat, Marilou's steady commitment came across. "We had to work through the time difference (Italy is six hours ahead of Florida)," Bob recalled. "I was so impressed and pleased that she would accommodate me and us through this. She would come from work, take a nap and then wait for me to come home. This showed me how much she wanted to give to our relationship."
Even given all that, Bob and Marilou still parted ways amiably in the summer of 2012, and didn't resume contacts until October 2013. The following January, Bob got on a plane and crossed the Atlantic so they could see each other in person.
"I was a nervous wreck," he said candidly. The stress of planning the trip and moving into the unknown with meeting Marilou in person would be a strain on anyone. But Marilou was confident throughout. "She is normally the more calm and secure between us," he said. "She was my rock and I could not have done it without her."
That didn't mean nerves weren't present when Bob got off the plane in Milan. When he landed, his hotel wasn't due to open for a few hours, so he and Marilou just hung out together at the airport. The casualness proved to be just the ticket for breaking the ice.
"We were both kind of nervous," he said. "It was really nice to just talk and hold hands." After all the electronic communication of nearly two years, being able to see and physically touch the other was something neither took for granted.
As the time passed in the airport, the nerves slowly gave way to the natural chemistry they had and the connection began to reassert itself. "It was really nice," Bob said. "It meshed real quick."
Marilou lives just outside Milan and they spent nearly two weeks together. She introduced Bob to the Italian metros that she rides every day, which can be an adventure unto itself. They made a road trip to Naples and Bob met her friends, and her brother.
One trip they did make was to a beautiful Catholic Church in the Duomo/Milan area. They sat in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. It was here that Bob pulled out an engagement ring and proposed marriage. Marilou said yes.
Marilou's "yes" ushered in a new stage of her and Bob's journey together, one marked by a lot of paperwork and patience. "It took a lot of paperwork and time just for us to get married in a foreign country," he said regarding their May 8 wedding in Italy. "Now it is taking us even more paperwork and time for her to become a citizen of the U.S."
The result of this is that Bob is back in Florida, where he works in banking at Wells Fargo, while Marilou has yet to be able to travel to the United States. They have sent the appropriate paperwork to Immigration--which include email correspondence and photos that prove to authorities that this is a genuine marriage. Three weeks ago, the Immigration Office informed Bob that they have the information they need and now it's about waiting their turn through the backlog.
"Our favorite motto is 'step by step' and 'every day there is a miracle,'" Bob said, as he and Marilou continue to Skype together and pray together and wait for the day she will be at her new home in Florida. "We are hoping this special day will come by the end of the year," Bob said.