Our Courtship Was Tougher Than Boot Camp


patricktina5“Her family really grilled me. I often thought it was like open heart surgery—except that I was awake and couldn’t take any anesthetic.

They asked me, understandably and justifiably so, ‘You’re divorced. How can we trust you not to do that to our sister?’ It was painful but, as I said, I valued the process and I know that marriage is too important to leave to just the man and the woman,” said Patrick, 48.

Although painful, Patrick was grateful for the courtship traditions of the Philippines, which helped him and his wife Tina, 47, solidify their commitment to each other.

Courting Tina was harder than my military training!Click To Tweet

Patrick further explained, “When we started to talk about her community and the courtship pattern, Tina expected me to run away. The courtship is seen as a time to discern marriage, not for casual dating. If it becomes obvious the altar is not what the couple is called to, they should stop patricktina10the courtship. She mentioned that she couldn’t see me without a chaperone. I think she was surprised that I didn’t run. Truth be told, my previous failures taught me to see the value in all of the parts of the courtship pattern. I thought to myself at that point, ‘Most of my life I’ve probably needed a chaperone.’

“Her family are some of the most vibrant and conservative members of their community, and courting a girl in her family was a bit like my military training I went through when I was young. It was like going through an obstacle course under live fire and then crawling over broken glass. Tina was worth it, though!”

An American in Japan

A frank and honest person, Patrick was not afraid to overcome obstacles of distance and culture to be with Christina. He knew from the moment he met her on CatholicMatch that she was someone special, although she lived in Manila and he lived in Japan.

patricktina8Patrick had moved to Japan nearly 20 years ago to be an English as Second Language teacher for a high school. He married a Buddhist, but only civilly, and they had two children. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce.

“My failed marriage attempt was probably the main tool the Lord used to call me home to the Church. It also convinced me and convicted me that mother Church is right about what marriage is and how to do it. I was left with a strong desire to marry a fellow sincere, believing, Catholic. Since Japan has so few Catholics and ever fewer marriageable female Catholics, using the internet to search was a no-brainer,” Patrick said.

He chose to stay in Japan so that he could continue to be a part of his children’s lives. He had a frustrating time though getting an official church document declaring him free to marry.

“When I initially asked my former pastors to investigate and prove my status for CatholicMatch, they put me off,” Patrick said. “My latest pastor in Tokyo happens to be a canon lawyer of sorts and his specialty is marriage law. I met with him for an hour once. He asked me to write my story. Shortly thereafter he gave me a document saying that I was free to marry. He said something about the Pauline privilege—as my wife was an unbeliever and was unwilling to get our marriage convalidated when I asked.”

Once he showed me videos from his life, I knew he was genuine

patricktina9Once he was free to marry, Patrick was determined to find a wife who loved the Church as much as he did. “When Christina and I started chatting, I soon had the feeling like I was meeting my best friend. Well, a best friend that was feminine and attractive! Tina is so steeped in her faith so, even though we’re from different countries, our Catholicism is a huge tie. Because she knows her faith and is interested in the Church, we have read many of the same authors and sung the same music.”

Chatting with Tina was like talking to a best friend—a very attractive best friend.Click To Tweet

Tina also felt an immediate attraction to Patrick, “The first time Pat and I exchanged messages, I instantly felt at home and liked him a lot. Once we were friends, he showed me videos of his life, teaching children, going on hikes, playing the guitar and he seemed genuine.”

“The decision to meet in person was—like many points in the progress of our relationship—a relatively simple and patricktina7quick, decision to make,” Patrick shared. “Christina and I were both clear that we didn’t want to ‘date’ and that we were not interested in pursuing any kind of relationship if the altar wasn’t the result, so I saw no reason to put off the first meeting.

“We first chatted on May 22, 2014, and I visited her for the first time at the end of August. I only had a few days so I went for a weekend. Her sisters thought I was crazy to go all that way for such a short trip, but, even though we did like each other online, I thought there was always the possibility that we wouldn’t like each other in person.

I went to meet her on a short trip at first, because you never know if you'll click in person.Click To Tweet

Overcoming the ocean

“I’m happy to say that it was wonderful to meet for the first time. She came to pick me up at the airport. I couldn’t pick her out in the crowd. The adage that good things come in small packages is very true in Tina’s case. She’s a bit on the short side and hard to spot! She tapped me on the arm from behind. She was so beautiful.”

patricktina4Tina felt the same way about Patrick. She said, “The first time we met face to face, there was a peaceful feeling as if we had known each other all our lives. That night over dinner, I secretly asked the Lord, ‘Can I have him?’”

With such a long distance between them, Patrick and Tina had to work hard to maintain their relationship. They spoke to each other frequently, prayed novenas together, and Patrick visited Tina as often as he could, even taking his best friend with him during a visit to meet her.

He wanted to propose, but he also felt that he needed to sell his house in the United States first. “I eyed putting the house on the market in the spring of 2016, and hoped I could keep Tina’s attention until it sold. But I don’t think God wanted to wait!” His tenant moved with only two weeks notice in November of 2015. Patrick put the house on the market, and it sold right away.

Tina thought her visitor was a hungry cat

Patrick said, “I looked at the calendar and realized Christmas was as good a time as any to travel, so I arranged to surprise Tina with a visit and propose.” Patrick told Tina’s sisters his plans, and one of her sisters let him stay at her house which was around the corner from Tina’s.

patricktina2Patrick continued, “I arrived late at night at her sister’s, spent the night there, and then showed up at Tina’s about 7:00 am the next day. Her brother answered the door. He was shocked because he didn’t know I was coming. He said, ‘You?’ I said ‘Shhh.’ Her dad, too, said, ‘You?’ I said, ‘Shhh.’ When they told her she had a visitor, Tina thought there was a hungry cat or something.

“The plan had been to pop the question that night but we went out to lunch that day and I realized there that that time was as good as any. We were the only patrons in this lovely little restaurant, and I was getting worried that I was going to let my own secret out of the bag if I didn’t ask her then and there. I grabbed her hand over the table and asked.”

patricktina3The couple was engaged for nine months before they married in August of 2016. They had a traditional Church wedding in the Philippines, with family and friends in attendance. Tina shared, “As I had never been kissed before, I asked Patrick if we could whip out a fan and have our first kiss behind it. I felt too shy to kiss in front of a large crowd! He said it was not allowed, and I tried not to sulk.

“However, he meant to surprise me! When Fr. Dave said, ‘You may now kiss the bride,’ Patrick seemed to glance at the people uncertainly (and I was wondering why). Then his sister came up to give him the fan! So only Fr. Dave saw our first kiss!”

Fr. Dave was the only person to witness our first kiss! Click To Tweet

Patrick and Tina are happily settled in their home in Japan. They know they would not have met if they hadn’t joined CatholicMatch. Tina says, “God can use anything to bring about His plans for your life. Be sure to be prayerful about this step and pray for everyone you meet. Everyone brought to your life has a purpose (even if it is not to marry them). Encourage and build everyone up in Christ.” Patrick adds, “Trust Him to have beautiful plans for you.”







  1. Ruth-1437934 May 6, 2017 Reply

    This is such a beautiful and inspiring story. God Bless your union

  2. Joan-1416852 May 4, 2017 Reply

    I read your beautiful story,amazing and congratulations to Patrick and Tina,…I was dreaming to find also my soul mate,but unfortunately is every hard to find….maybe soon because God is good, he has good plan for me…so I just need to wait….and maybe my soulmate his waiting for me in the right time….God knows a perfect timing…bless all

  3. Valerie-1238724 May 4, 2017 Reply

    Great story! I was especially interested in how Patrick is an expat, and how Tina now joins him in that regard. With his long experience living in Japan as a foreigner, I think that he will certainly be able to make the adjustment process easier for her and help her ease through any culture shock. God bless their lives together.

    • Valerie-1238724 May 4, 2017 Reply

      I speak from the experience of a three-time expat. To go somewhere new and to have someone you love and trust be there with you who also can guide you well makes it so much easier – and more fun!

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