Creative Loving reader submissions: Tyler & Mary

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Freelance writer, 41, & compensation manager, 40, Brandon

Met: In Brookings, South Dakota

Together: 7 years

The story: She smiled at me from her spot at the checkout counter. Come to think of it, she smiled at everybody. It was 1995 and we were working together at a big discount store and we flirted as coworkers sometimes do. I nicknamed her “Happy” because she was always grinning.

With a little prodding from a friend, I finally asked her out. We fell in love quickly. She was exciting, intelligent, and yet comfortable. I had dated only a couple of girls, but this was different. 

It didn’t last. Twenty-one years old and full of arrogance, we wouldn’t compromise on our major differences. After a year and a half, we broke it off. I graduated college and moved away.

At first, we tried to remain friends, but we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t be together, but there was still too much there to be just friends. We broke off all communication.

Mary threw herself into her work, building a great career in the HR field. I threw myself at more women. I had found love, but I thought I’d find love again, but without those differences that made Mary and I so impossible. I dated some great girls, but the bar had been set high and they all fell short. All the while I talked to my friends about Mary. 

The world kept moving and changing. The internet created social networking and I found myself looking at MySpace over and over, fixated on Mary’s profile. I didn’t know that she could see that I was looking.

She called me out. At first, we shared a few emails, then a phone call or two. Finally, in 2008, I went to her birthday party. I’ve never been as nervous in my life as I was that night. 

It went well and we began to see each other on a regular basis. Then, a few months later, we took the plunge back into dating. Older and wiser, we found that we could learn to compromise on things that seemed impossible before. 

Because our decade-long story reminded me of When Harry Met Sally, I finally proposed to Mary on New Year’s Eve, 2010. “I’ve lived 10 years of my life without you and I don’t want to ever do that again.”

It’s everything I’d hoped it would be. She challenges me. She supports me when I need it. She laughs with me. We’ll go to baseball games and breweries. We go to museums and off-Broadway shows. We’re proud members of the Tampa Bay Parrot Head Club. 

I never felt the need to get married just to be married. I’m married today because I couldn’t imagine going through life without her by my side. 

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” —Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

Vote for Tyler & Mary here.

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