One important tip I’ve learned for strengthening a marriage is to celebrate your story. It makes sense to remind each other of how you met and the infant stages of the relationship. That wasn’t too long ago for Mare Cris and me, but we enjoy talking about it nonetheless. It brings back really great memories and emotions that we want to preserve.

Meeting your spouse on Facebook has one distinct advantage: you can go back and look at some of your first “conversations.” I decided to do this a couple of weeks ago. It took a while to scroll up through thousands of messages, but I eventually reached those first few paragraphs that marked the beginning of our relationship. I copied and pasted them to a word document so we’d have easy access to them.

That very first message from Mare Cris came four years ago today.

I had just moved to Angeles City the evening of All Saint’s Day. I chose to move during this holiday because I knew there would be minimal traffic to interfere with my exodus from Manila (virtually all schools/businesses are closed on November 1st). Everything went smoothly: I had somehow managed to downsize just enough to allow all my possessions to fit in the moving truck. The trip to Angeles City took a little over an hour, and unloading everything took about the same amount of time.

The apartment (things still in disarray).

The first floor of my apartment on November 2nd (still in disarray).

My new apartment was half the cost of my place in Manila. It was located in a really nice subdivision near every imaginable amenity (grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.). Erwin, a dear friend and ministry partner, lived just a short walk away. Everything just came together beautifully.

My life could not have been better . . . or so I thought.

The very next day would bring a blessing in my life that I had not planned or even hoped for: a message from the beautiful woman I would marry just a few months later.

Life has never been exactly the same since that first “hello.” For this I’m extremely grateful.

Macau (December 2011)

Macau (December 2011)