Rob and Chris were a half a country apart, with him living in southern Minnesota and she in the Southwest in New Mexico. They both had conservative approaches to life and dating. They were an unlikely match to start a long-distance romance online that would end in marriage. But that’s exactly what happened.
Living in a small town has many advantages, but meeting a lot of new people, especially when it comes to potential spouses, is not one of them. 61-year-old Rob, a retired banker and financial consultant felt he needed to open up his pool of prospects. “I don’t do this stuff at all,” he said, referring to online dating. “I saw CatholicMatch in our bulletin and decided I’ll hit the button and see.”
Chris, a 56-year-old widow, and working as a registered nurse in intensive care, faced the same problem. She initially tried EHarmony and Catholic Singles and got a date apiece from each one, but she found herself meeting people where the faith foundation wasn’t secure. “Things aren’t as pre-qualified as they are on Catholic Match,” she said. She liked the profile where she could get up-front answers about not only the seven basic faith questions, but eligibility to marry in the Church, willingness to relocate and other factors that were non-negotiable for her.
Rob was loosely involved in CatholicMatch, with occasional emotigrams, messages and forum participation. He did realize one problem with asking advice and that’s the multitude of opinions one gets in return. Rob opened a forum thread asking how to go about meeting people online. “One response says “Jump right in” and another says “Take it slow”, he chuckled in recalling the story. “By the end I’m just ready to go back to my corner.”
Another forum thread proved to be the key that unlocked the door for Rob though. A twentysomething girl began threads inviting people to try things like sending one message a day to people in a neighboring state. Another day might be to contact someone overseas. It was a fun way to go about expanding the pool of people you met, and Rob was surprised at the number of responses he got.
When this past Lent came Rob made it his commitment to make one person a day on CatholicMatch feel a little better. It might be a nice note, or a “smile” emotigram, but it would be every day. One of the people was Chris. He sent her a message and she wrote back.
It began a 4-5 week exchange of messages and in which they really got to know each other. There were a couple of instances where the misunderstandings that come through a one-dimensional form of communication “nearly sunk the ship,” as he put it. He made a humble reference to his past and said that he’d probably broken all of the Ten Commandments along the way. It wasn’t until the next day that Chris got back to him and asked if that meant he’d killed somebody. “There’s a lot more ways to break the Commandments than that,” he said. As they steered through misunderstandings and got to know each other, things moved toward a first meeting.
In late April and early May they were talking on the phone and discussing potential vacation plans, Rob, a committed golfer, didn’t consider the summer an optimum time and Chris had a two-week vacation in Hawaii coming up. She posed the right question—“How about now?”
Rob went to his daughter and asked him to book a plane reservation to New Mexico. He spent a week there and the connection they felt with each other only grew. It led to a phone conversation upon his return.
“What if I asked you to marry me?”, he asked. “
“I might say yes,” came the reply.
“Then I’ll take the if out. Will you marry me? I want my life to be a fairy tale and I want you in it.”
With that, Rob was off to his sister for help in booking another plane ticket. He called his mother, a skeptic of this whole process and asked her if she was sitting down. “I’m 93 years old and in a wheelchair,” she reminded him. “Of course I’m sitting down.”
Rob gave his family the news, put his house in the market, handed over his remaining financial clients and with little more than his toothbrush was off to New Mexico.
Chris found him an apartment there, and they began the process of marriage preparation. At this point, she dug into her late husband’s old materials. He’d been a deacon in the church and marriage prep had been one his responsibilities. Chris went through one of the books that outlined the questions couples should have for each other. She and Rob had covered every one. It’s important to note that Chris did marriage prep as soon as she began searching, making sure all her relevant questions were answered, and that was evident when her family started quizzing her about this new man in her life.
Today they are married and settling into a new life together. “We’re sitting here with a second chance,” Rob told CatholicMatch. “One day I’m shoveling snow, the next day I’m here in New Mexico.” It may have all gone done during golf season, but it’s safe to say Rob got the equivalent of hitting a hole-in-one.