Emily was starting to lose faith in CatholicMatch. The 24-year-old from the Chicago suburbs had been in one long-distance relationship that ended poorly and led her to swear off dating anyone outside her zip code. A few more dates that failed to create a connection didn’t have her feeling any more optimistic.
Tim was going through struggles of his own up in the Minneapolis suburbs. Just one year earlier he’d been engaged, but felt the need to break it off. The 26-year-old wanted a deeper spiritual and emotional connection with his future spouse. But he wasn’t having any luck meeting anyone.
“We were both discouraged and frustrated with dating and felt a bit hopeless,” Emily said. “Neither one of us expected our next relationship to be our last.”
Emily was also going through some soul-searching. “I thought maybe my standards were not realistic,” she admitted. “I wanted a guy who was funny, outgoing, relaxed, hardworking, successful, spontaneous and a strong Catholic…”
It took baseball and a sick day to give this relationship the jump-start it needed. Tim sent Emily a message asking her one important question—“White Sox or Cubs?” She had initially ignored replying, though the question gave her a laugh. But one day when she was home sick and online she decided to answer.
“Judging from his profile he didn’t seem like my type,” Emily told CatholicMatch, as she explained why she hadn’t gone out of her way to answer his message previously. But she answered with the White Sox, which pleased Tim, so he sent her another message.
“(He) made me laugh, but I was not expecting anything further to happen,” Emily said. But something did happen. As the messages went back and forth, Emily saw Tim’s charm emerge. She shared some of the messages with her mom, who found his personality engaging and at mom’s encouragement she gave Tim her phone number.
“Later that night he called me from New Orleans,” Emily recalled. Tim was on a trip with friends to celebrate Mardi Gras, and he sat on Bourbon Street talking to his new love interest that was home in bed in Chicago.
“We talked about everything under the sun,” Emily said. “From politics to religion to movies to food to favorite colors.” When the conversation was over Tim let her know that he’d be in Chicago the following weekend for his sister’s birthday. “I was hesitant because of my initial reaction to him as well as the distance,” Emily conceded. “But still, I agreed.”
Emily made a good friend on that first date, but it was with Tim’s sister Alicia. “She and I had a blast dancing, having a few drinks and getting to know each other,” Emily told CatholicMatch. “Tim…stood patiently off to the side, refilling our drinks, holding our purses when we went to dance, and making sure no stranger approached us on the dance floor.”
When Tim dropped Emily back at home, she wasn’t sure how to respond when he leaned in to kiss her goodnight. But after a short peck on the cheek, she realized there was something there. “Hey wait!,” she called out to him. And like a scene straight out of a classic movie, Tim returned to the doorstep for a true first kiss under the moonlight.
Tim and Emily still had a lot to work through and their relationship had its ups and downs. They needed to understand each other’s pasts, work through where they were at in faith and of course navigate the long distance relationship (it’s seven-plus hour drive between the their two cities) that Emily had once sworn off.
“But after every challenge, Tim and I reached a deeper level of friendship, love and respect for one another,” Emily said. She chose to move to the Minneapolis area to be near him and this past April her risk was rewarded when he took her to an antique store, got down on one knee and slid a diamond ring around her finger.
The journey of Tim and Emily was an unlikely one in so many ways—from the initial hesitancy to the recent hurts each had suffered. But through their faith and commitment to God and then to each other, the problems were transformed into something special.
It does leave one important question unanswered. “What if I had answered Cubs instead of White Sox,” Emily pondered. “I guess we will never know.”