Jeff and Nancy were on opposite sides of the country, but through CatholicMatch thought they could be of mutual support to each other. Both had gone through the annulment process and both were ready to start anew.
“Jeff had seen a post I made on the divorce support forum,” Nancy said. It resulted in him taking her profile questionnaire and her checking out his profile.
“I got his humor and felt very comfortable responding, she recalled. “We exchanged a few cordial emails over the next few days and began to enjoy our correspondence.”
That initial exchange in January 2011 wasn’t seen as being more than platonic. With her living in SoCal and him in North Carolina, it seemed that was the likely path God was calling them. Ironically, the relaxed sense that created between the two enabled conversations to flow more freely. The irony grew when Nancy made some profile recommendations, the better to help Jeff find his ideal woman.
A feature of CatholicMatch at the time was the ability to post videos. It wasn’t something that was commonly done, but Jeff was one of those that took advantage. The 48-year-old was more comfortable in general with the reading of body language rather than the reading of words, and it turned out the video drew Nancy closer to him.
“I was able to hear his voice and southern accent,” Nancy told CatholicMatch. “I saw his mannerisms and most of all I saw the sincerity and honesty in his eyes. Oh Jeffrey, I thought to myself What have you done?” What he had done was persuade Nancy of something. The 47-year-old graphic designer was going for Jeffrey herself.
They both were still aware of the geographic boundary that stood between them and while the attraction was mutual, they tried to “put the brakes on it,” as Nancy put it, and move cautiously. Jeff flew to California in April, they got separate rooms in Carmel and enjoyed a romantic dinner, Mass & Adoration and then walked through the town. He visited Nancy’s home and was able to meet her son.
In addition to the distance, there was also an emotional boundary and it’s the healing that both went through as a part of beginning a new life.
They broke things off in the summer. “That was a very difficult time because I knew , through fasting and prayer, that Jeff was the one the Lord had chosen for me,” Nancy said openly.” The woman whose deep faith has led her to service in her parish as a cantor went back to the wellspring of prayer.
By August the romance was being rekindled. It was a sign of Jeff’s real love for Nancy that one of his biggest concerns was what the success of the romance might do to her—relocation to North Carolina would take Nancy from all she knew. SoCal was where her she was born, it was where her son was and it was where she had worked for seventeen years. So when the couple reconnected, they agreed to Skype and pray together as friends.
But they were meant to be more than friends and the love between them was too apparent. They text-messaged back and forth constantly and in one text Jeff vaguely alluded to marriage. Nancy made arrangements to come to Carolina and as part of the discernment process, they attended a Catholic remarriage prep workshop.
“Being reunited with Jeff was wonderful,” Nancy recalled. They went to the Cathedral to start their time together and knelt on the steps. But it wasn’t to pray. “I didn’t realize we were kneeling because a proposal was to ensue,” she told CatholicMatch. “Jeff presented me with an heirloom miner-cut diamond that had been in his family.”
The couple decided to use the Easter break for their wedding so Jeff’s sons could be there, and it allowed a full week for the first family vacation of the newly created family—his sons were 12 & 16, while Nancy’s boy was 18. The Easter date was also, as Nancy put it, “symbolic of our journeys—a story of resurrection.”
There was no shortage of chaos in the intervening months, as Nancy sold her house and got her son ready for college, along with all the details of wedding planning. The ceremony itself was to be held in her home area, but she still traveled to North Carolina and that aided her own eventual assimilation into her new life. “I was traveling to a completely different world and while vastly different, it was one I could meld into easily. So much so, that it was difficult to come back.” Indeed, for now North Carolina and Jeff were home.
Jeff and Nancy overcame many obstacles, and as their story makes plain, they themselves often seemed convinced that their feelings for each other couldn’t ever go beyond friends. “My recommendation to anyone desiring the sacrament of marriage is do not limit God!”, Nancy said with conviction. “He will lead to the one whom he has destined for you. That’s exactly what he did for us.”