Names: Carmen & Aaron
Been together since: 2012
Aaron: It was 14th July 2009. I was living in a villa in Dubai and we loved hosting theme parties. The theme this year was space and as one of the hosts, I was making a big effort with my costume and was dressed up as Buzz Lightyear. Carmen was dressed as a Martian girl.
I spent most of the night having my photo taken with very attractive girls. One of those very attractive girls was Carmen (who I thought was Russian at the time). Although I don’t happen to remember too much about the moment, that was officially the first time we met.
Carmen: He always made a very good effort with the costumes. I just put a headband on and that was enough to make me a Martian girl. My friend remembers me looking at the photos later and saying, “Wow, Buzz was sweaty!” Well, it was summer and he was in full costume. Yep, that’s how we met.
Aaron: I think 2 months later we went to a toga party where we met again. I was in full costume yet again but she wasn’t. That was the first time we had a conversation. Throughout the night we just kept bumping into each other and talking. We found out we had a lot in common and the conversation just flowed. We were both half-Filipino and we both loved to travel. I said, “We should catch up sometime,” and she said, “Yes, let’s do shisha,” but it never happened. Carmen had told me she was kind of seeing someone at the time.
Carmen: I did tell him that I was kind of seeing someone but that we could catch up for shisha, harmless. But he was too much of a gentleman to pursue it. He didn’t chase it up. Soon after, the ‘kind of seeing’ turned into a serious relationship and I ended up together with my ex-boyfriend for 2.5 years.
It was funny though as every time I bumped into Aaron my friends would say, “You should leave your boyfriend and go for Aaron, you guys are made for each other!” and apparently all his friends were telling him the same. This happened every single time. They all thought we had extremely similar personality traits and they were so right!
I just didn’t get why they would keep saying that as I never felt that Aaron was actually interested in me. He never, ever let it show! He would invite me to all his parties but that would be as far as he would go. I always had a soft spot for him but I never saw any action from him, I never realized that he liked me.
Aaron: Well, she was seeing someone so I respected the boundaries. But we would see each other in all the parties. We always had a great time talking and we clearly got along very well, very effortlessly.
Three years passed.
I had heard through her best friend that her relationship had ended so I started to send her messages asking how she is and what she’s been up to. Being a flight attendant she was always all over the world so her replies were always, “I’m in Rio” or “I’m in the Philippines”.
She was always very positive and sweet in her messages. I still didn’t make a move. I guess I was quite shy and reserved. Carmen is such a beautiful woman I also didn’t want to mess anything up and was being extra cautious.
I was also focusing on myself those days. My friend was getting married in Lebanon in 2012 and I had made a pledge to myself to look and feel my best by that time. I was at the gym 5 days a week for 6 months and it paid off wonderfully – I lost 20 kilos. Goal achieved!
I had an amazing 3 days at the wedding and was about to head out to another country directly from Lebanon then return to Dubai. I changed my mind last minute and decided to head back to Dubai for a few days and head out from there instead. I was on the flight putting my bags down when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Guess who it was!
Carmen: That was a strange year, a lot of things happened to me. It was the year of my breakup, the year that I didn’t get my expected promotion and also the year that one of my friends passed away… it was a really bad time.
Things had slowly started feeling better but I still just wasn’t in the mood to do anything. I really wanted to stay at home in Dubai. I didn’t even want to fly back home to my parents, it was that bad.
Then the day came: It was my best friend’s birthday. Her and her husband wanted to go to Lebanon to celebrate. She said, “Carmen, you need to get out a little! It’s my birthday and you are coming with us to celebrate! You can’t say no!” Even up to an hour before the flight, I still was undecided on whether or not to go.
Thank God I went! We used to start the day with a shisha and coffee before breakfast, complete hedonism. It was the best vacation ever and it really did lighten up my mood.
I was supposed to leave Lebanon on the evening flight but decided to leave on the afternoon flight instead as I had a long day at work the next day and I wanted to be a little bit rested.
My friend’s husband did not want us to leave early at all. He did absolutely everything in his power to get us to miss our flight. And we did!
We missed our flight… but my friend was wearing a push-up bra and she is quite pretty! This changed everything. You know how certain gentlemen become a little more easily persuaded when these things come into play. They reopened the flight for us!! The rest is history as they say.
When you think about it, it really isn’t that easy to bump into someone on a big airplane but here we were. What are the chances of that happening? And both of us pretty much changed our flights last minute and thus ended up on the same one.
About a week before that he had sent me a message again after being pushed by his friends who were telling him he had to get a move on because I was single then but I wouldn’t be single forever. It had been 3 years since we met and he had always messaged me but never followed up with any concrete actions. So I just thought he was all talk, no action as usual.
So, I had gotten the message.
And I had promptly deleted it.
When he saw me on the plane he told me he had been trying to get a hold of me and that he had sent me a message. I lied through my teeth and pretended that I didn’t get it.
Aaron: We landed in Dubai and I sent her a message asking when we could finally meet up. She said, “I won’t be able to make it for shisha tonight… but I am going now and you are welcome to join me.”
I got home, put my bags down, took a shower, dressed, jumped in my car and drove straight back to the other side of town to join her and her girlfriends – finally! She was well chaperoned. So much for her early night – we were all there till 2 am!
Carmen: I had to wake up early but nobody wanted to leave. He just didn’t want to go home and none of my girlfriends wanted to leave before he did as they were all checking him out for me as good girlfriends do. It was a late night for all of us.
Aaron: So this is how it started. We had this whirlwind romance where we were both flying around the world and keeping in touch with messages. And every time we both happened to be in Dubai, we dated. When I could, I would surprise her and suddenly appear on her layovers when she went flying.
Carmen: For 3 months he was between jobs and off work. He just followed me all over the world on all my flights.
We were everywhere during those months to meet each other’s families. He took me to the UK, Philippines, Spain as well as Australia to meet his whole family. I took him to the Philippines to meet mine.
Being a flight attendant, I had my discounted tickets but he didn’t. He really didn’t seem to mind, he just wanted to be with me. It was an incredibly hectic tempo we were on and left me almost physically sick with fatigue but we had so much fun it was well worth it. We just got along really well and everything was very easy.
Aaron: It was three and a half months after we met. We were in Thailand. I actually was going to propose there but the ring wasn’t ready yet. I had commissioned it and it was being prepared in Dubai. So we returned to Dubai and she had a New York flight the next day where she only had a 24 hour layover. I booked myself into that flight but didn’t tell her.
While she was trying to sleep off her post-Thailand fatigue, I snuck out of the house, collected the ring and secretly packed my bag and hid it in the back of the car. I had a bit of persuading to do when Carmen woke up and said that she was so tired she didn’t want to go to her New York flight – yikes! Thankfully I managed to persuade her.
I dropped her at the airport and ditched my car in the sand somewhere because I was running extremely late for check-in. I boarded the same flight, found her and said ‘Hi baby!” and she was in shock! She was very confused and didn’t know what to make of it.
Poor Carmen had been working for 15 hours at that point on top of her road fatigue after our holiday in Thailand but when we got to the hotel in New York I said ‘Baby, let’s go! I want to see the empire state building.” She is always such a good sport, she agreed.
Carmen: So off we went to the Empire State Building. I noticed that he was being extra mushy. My feet were positively pounding at this point but he was insistent on the tour. I had already been to the Empire State Building numerous times but it was his first time. Because of that we were in totally different states of mind. He was increasing on the mushiness scale and I started to get the feeling that something was brewing. I know him so well!
“It was raining and Aaron was reading his vows. One of the lines in this beautiful speech was, “I promise to bring some sunshine into your life.” Just then the sun broke through the clouds and the whole place was flooded with sunshine! It was a beautiful moment.”
Aaron: I actually took the tour to distract her. So when tour finally finished, I could see that she was expecting something and was a little disappointed that I hadn’t asked her. But then I told her I had a ticket to the observation deck upstairs and that expectant look returned.
Carmen: See, he kept touching his pocket. I remember my sister telling me that just before her proposal her husband was also doing the same thing: the kept on touching the ring through his pocket to make sure it was still there. It was an automatic nervous gesture.
I am brutally honest sometimes and I was very close to asking him if he was going to propose but I just asked him if he was okay instead. He got even more nervous and said, “Why, don’t I look okay?” I said, “You look nervous!” He said he was just fine. His mushiness was reaching its peak at this point with lots of ‘I love you’s flying around.
Aaron: So we were there at the observation deck overlooking Central Park and there was a guy standing very close to us. Then he moved. I took this opportunity to get down on my knee and ask her if she would marry me. You know what her first words were? “What are you doing down there?”
Carmen: This was not a Hollywood moment. I knew this was something that would be happening since we had discussed it but when it actually happened I just went blank and reacted in the most unusual way. All that came out of my mouth was many shock-induced four-letter words! I couldn’t stop saying, “Are you serious? Are you sure?” and swearing in between. He kept saying, “Yes, I am serious – look I have a ring!” I finally pulled myself together and gave him a big hug saying, “Yes! Yes! Crap! Yes!” We sealed that with a kiss.
Aaron: Then we walked down 5th Avenue, got some champagne and celebrated. The restaurant announced that we had just gotten engaged and we got a big round of applause. The phone service meanwhile was quite terrible so we couldn’t call anyone to share the happy news. We walked back to the hotel, put it on Facebook and fell asleep.
We woke up 6 hours later to an explosion of 500 ‘likes’ and 200 comments between the two of us. Everyone knew we were dating but it had only been 3.5 months so everyone had gone crazy with the news.
Carmen: I went on my return flight and saw the crew I had flown in with. We had all gotten pretty close during the flight to New York as it was not a very busy flight and we had plenty of time to get to know each other.
One of the girls said, “Carmen, do you have something you might want to share with us?” I told them I had just gotten engaged! They all started crying. It was quite funny when Aaron said to me, “See, this was the reaction I was hoping for, not the one you gave me.”
Aaron: We went to Spain and bought our wedding rings there.
We got engaged on October 23rd. We wanted to move in together but our families are quite traditional so 6 months to the day we had a small ceremony and got married. It was a very intimate ceremony with just immediate family.
We had a big wedding party 8 months after that in Boracay. The day before our wedding we had the biggest typhoon in the world in the Philippines. This devastated the Philippines and caused massive travel disruptions. It was extremely stressful for us.
At the end only half of our guests could make it but we still went ahead and got married. And it turned out to be an amazing wedding with absolutely everyone having a wonderful time.
The typhoon definitely made this a wedding no one will forget. Some great news actually came out of it too. Carmen’s best friend and her husband got marooned in their room. They been trying to have a baby for 8 years and guess what: This was the magic day – she got pregnant!
Another one of our friends was the daughter of a public figure in Oslo. Because of the typhoon there was a complete communication breakdown for 38 hours. When she reconnected she discovered herself in the biggest newspaper in Oslo with her worried father asking anyone who had seen her to let him know. Everyone was so worried about her. She had meanwhile just been chilling on the beautiful beaches there.
Carmen: The minute we walked onto the aisle it had started raining. Later, Aaron was reading his vows. One of the lines in this beautiful speech was, “I promise to bring some sunshine into your life.” Just then the sun broke through the clouds and the whole place was flooded with sunshine! It was a beautiful moment.
Aaron: We also donated all of our gifts or money to charity for the typhoon and asked all of our guests to do the same. It felt right.
What advice do you have for anyone who is looking for love?
Carmen: Don’t give up looking for love.
And go with someone who has the same moral upbringing as you.
And like Aaron also said in the video, less talk, more action. Any relationship I have had that hasn’t worked is all because it has been all talk and no action. Go for a man that backs up everything he says with his actions, those are the guys you need to keep. His actions did all of the talking during those 3.5 months we were dating.
Aaron: The one regret I have is not dating Carmen sooner. I wish I had had more courage to ask her. We had a bit of catching up to do when we finally did get together.
Carmen: Perhaps it might have been different then but I think it still worked out perfectly. I keep telling him I wasn’t ready for him back then whether he had the courage or not, I just wasn’t. But later, I was.
When we decided to get married very soon after we started dating, all our friends kept asking us if we were sure. I am usually not a calm person. I get rattled easily. One of my best friends was asking me if I was sure and trying to get me to go to Hawaii with her to clear my mind and make sure I was sure. I told her I didn’t need to and that I had made my decision. She said she had never seen me so calm. Everyone will have an opinion. Follow what you believe.
What advice do you have for couples going through a hard time?
You have to forgive. I can say I am sorry but unless she forgives me, we can’t move forward. We all have areas in our lives where we could have acted differently and we have had disagreements like any couple about things we could have done better and sometimes all you can do is ask for forgiveness.
If anyone holds a grudge it will only escalate.
Carmen: It also goes back to the moral fiber that I was telling to tell you about earlier. There are certain things you can live with but certain things you cannot live with. For instance, I can’t live with someone who drinks too much. You can forgive, but cannot forget that. Your ideals need to be similar with things like that.
I have friends who turn a blind eye to their partner cheating but they have other priorities in their marriage. For me, that is absolutely not acceptable.
And have fun in the relationship. Don’t stop dating each other. Even if I am not in the best of moods, he always makes an effort to put some fun in the situation and makes me laugh. We always end up laughing together. Never neglect the element of fun.
Aaron: One thing I have realized is no matter how much we fight or disagree we are in this together forever. We will work it out somehow. It might cost me a diamond or a dog but we will always work it out.
One thing I have learnt about love is…
Aaron: Love is easy to give but harder to receive. Carmen gives me so much love, I never thought it could be like that, it could be so easy to get it. In my previous relationships I found that it was always one way but I learnt that real love actually goes both ways, it is equal and balanced.
Carmen: I learnt this when I was very little in bible study actually.
Love is a decision.
You decide on a person and make it work.
The thing is there are so many things that are not perfect. And there are going be days that things are going to get really hard. There is a saying in Filipino. Marriage is not something that you swallow and spit out. When you decide on a person that’s it, you take the good with the bad. That’s why my parents have been together for over 40 years.
Everyone always has an opinion. So many people were saying it is too soon to get married to Aaron as we hadn’t been dating for too long. At the end it is all about you and what you want. I was old enough to know exactly what I wanted. And I wanted to be with him.
(Interview & write-up by Bianca)
Read about our previous couple: Eunjung & Yves.
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