Names: Roxana & David
Been together since: 1999
Roxana: We met at work. We started working for Bose on the same day and met when we went for our orientation together – June 23rd, 1997. We exchanged our first words during our coffee break where we ended up sitting opposite each other. We discovered we had similar backgrounds with his parents being Syrian-Lebanese and myself being raised in Dubai. He was an engineer there and I was at the purchasing department. The first thing that struck me was how sweet he was.
David: I remember meeting her very clearly on that first day at work. During that break she was already sitting at the table. I joined her and we had a few minutes to chat before others came to join us. I wasn’t really walking around looking for a relationship and we hadn’t been able to get into any kind of meaningful conversation yet but I was very aware at that point that I liked what I saw.
Roxana: It was about over a year that we walked past each other at work and said hello and that was the full extent of our interaction. We were supposed to go on a business trip together but I ended up cancelling so we never got to talk properly even then.
I had just come out of a very long relationship that hadn’t gone very well and wasn’t looking for anything. My friend Sarah kept telling me how cute he was and that I should just go for it but I was very hesitant – in addition to all the other challenges it was too scary as we worked in the same company and it was against policy. I had a few trips I had to go to and was away for a while.
Then we started working on a project together. Every time I called him though to ask him something, he would never call me back but instead would appear at my desk in five minutes in person. Literally – I timed it! He would say, “Hey, I got your message,” and deliver the response personally. It still didn’t dawn on me that he might be interested though.
David: It was also on my mind that we were working together and that we just weren’t allowed to be dating. We were seeing each other more consistently though because of the project, not just bumping into each other in passing. But one day we were talking to each other, discussing our backgrounds and we decided to go and get some Arabic food soon. Thus plans for our first date were set.
Roxana: That was the first time anything was suggested outside of work. I did think he was very cute but I still really wasn’t looking at him like that.
Although we both had to travel for quite a few days prior to our date, we found ourselves on the phone to each other almost every night just talking and talking. It was about nothing and everything. These conversations actually brought us closer on a fun, friendly level.
When the day of the date arrived I didn’t hear anything from him. I was wondering if we were still on so I wrote him a brief but funny email asking and he wrote back immediately saying we surely were. The emails were fun and flirty and set the tone for the night.
Finally our date arrived. It was lovely! We went to this tapas restaurant called Tapeos which we still go to now and again, and it went very well. We walked back to my apartment, I kissed him on his cheeks, said thank you very much then closed the door in his face and sent him on his way home. Nicely.
I was very hesitant and careful because I worked with him. I didn’t want to start something up with someone at work and create a really uncomfortable work situation. I was very nervous about him. He, on the other hand, was very patient. He was happy to take it slow for the same reason.
David: Our first date. We had a lot in common and it was great! We had a lot of fun, it was very easy.
See, we had met during orientation but it was months until we actually got to sit down and talk to each other outside of the office. Up until then I only used to be able to walk past her and say hello, my interest just kept building up. So it was quite a big deal for me to be able to finally get to know her a little better.
The only difficult part about this was that we were living quite a distance from each other.
Roxana: We continued seeing each other and had many dates after that. He called me the weekend before to invite me to his mother’s house for Easter Sunday. I was a nervous wreck – I couldn’t believe he invited me to meet the parents! It was quite lovely though. We went out in Providence the first night at night then off we went to his mom’s for Easter Sunday.
After dinner, as I was driving home that night I said this is the man I am going to marry. I just knew it then. I knew him and then met his family and realized that this would work. I just knew that I could introduce him to my family and they would get along. It felt like we were from the same stock. It all felt so right.
It was really that simple.
David: I went on a trip with a few of my friends and I remember calling her from the hallway of a hotel. Calling her while on holiday with my buddies… she was on my mind, I was missing her, I wanted to talk to her. Back then it wasn’t like today with everyone having cell phones, it wasn’t easy.
Roxana: We didn’t tell anyone at work for a long time.
David: As we spent more time together, it was more a question of trying to sort out the logistics as we just seemed to be spending an awful lot of time commuting between each others’ places as we lived in different cities.
Roxana: Then we decided we would move in together. I moved in in January and people started figuring it out. We were engaged by the end of February and then everyone found out. I decided we were getting too close for comfort and I started interviewing other positions in Bose to transfer out of that particular place. That’s what I did – I transferred and it was done.
David: It was just very natural, we didn’t need to have discussions about if this was the right thing or spent years agonizing over making a decision. It was too easy to not think that that was what was going be. Then we just needed to figure out what we needed to do to get there. I had no doubts at all. Never had to think is this the right thing, is this the right time, none at all. I never spent a lot of time worrying or thinking about that. It was just way too natural for me. They say when you meet the right one you know it, and that was how it was for me.
Roxana: When I look back to anything I had before I can say David knew exactly what he wanted from the get-go he was very real and there was never any ambiguity. He made his intentions very clear from the beginning. They were very true and honest intentions. There were no gray areas ever.
It was like nothing I had ever experienced. In my past relationships, anyone I had ever dated, there was always this immaturity within the relationship, a lot of ‘he said, she said’, a lot of questions that I would be tormented about whether I should ask or not… there was nothing of that sort with David, no drama at all – none!
The fact that we were from different backgrounds and different nationalities did not affect us at all because we have such similar thinking patterns, we think exactly the same, we are cut from the same cloth. So I can’t say there are any real cultural differences. I married someone that was quite like myself. So there was never been a big divide in that way.
David: Plus, there are many similarities between our different religions and backgrounds.
Roxana: The proposal was not a total surprise as we had already discussed it and looked at rings together. He did go and pick the ring himself though. It wasn’t the most romantic proposal but it was very him.
We were at home and were going to Dubai in a few days. He had this God awful broken and ugly leather recliner chair, I hated it! I would do anything to get rid of it. So we were going to go out for dinner and hadn’t started getting ready yet.
In Bose I used to be responsible for procuring the washers. David got down on the floor and said, “You are the washer queen, come have a look at this chair. What does this chair need?”
He had the ring in the box, which was open, underneath the chair. But I didn’t see it! I was saying, “What, what?” Then he started to get nervous wondering if I had seen the ring but was ignoring it. I finally saw it and went, “Oooh… oooh… oooh!” I stood up still saying, “Oooh.”
He then took the ring and said something like, “Would you give me the honor of spending the rest of your life with me?”
He was so very sweet. He had been planning it all along and had even called my parents in Dubai. He had apparently written what he wanted to say on a napkin so he wouldn’t miss anything. So my mother picked up the phone and there he was asking my mom if he could speak to my father. He was telling my father all he wanted to say and asking for my hand in marriage and it was taking quite a while so apparently my mother just grabbed the phone out of my dad’s hand and just said, ‘Of course you can marry her, yes, yes, yes!’ I was just thinking, ‘Well, thank you, mom, for sounding so desperate!’ It was hilarious!
They had met him previously when we had only been dating a few months but my father was a little concerned as our backgrounds were different – him being Arabic, Christian and me being a cocktail: British, Zoroastrian, raised in Dubai. I had to explain to my father that he was third generation American-Christian-Lebanese-Syrian: a bit of a mix much like myself. My father didn’t want to even come out of the bedroom when David came over. My mother had to tell him to stop being a baby about this and get out there and meet David. So he did.
The night progressed and soon the ice had melted and they were laughing and joking – they got along brilliantly. Then, towards the end of the night, right out of the blue, my father said to him, ‘So, if you are going to marry my daughter…’ And I was shocked thinking, ‘Noooo, dad, we haven’t talked about marriage!!’ but he was so cool about it, he just went with it. Not only was he not thrown off or nervous about it but he actually said, “Of course I will marry her,” which shocked me even more!
We married at the Unitarian church.
We planned the whole wedding together. We were very far away and most people that I really wanted there couldn’t make it, that was hard. Which also means that we must have a very big 20th anniversary party. Apart from that though, it was exactly as we wanted regardless. We picked out our own readings, wrote our own vows, the poems that my siblings read… it was very personal.
What advice do you have for anyone who is looking for love?
Roxana: I think when you stop looking and become completely comfortable with who you are and yourself is when you find it. I honestly do. That is exactly where I was.
I was so desperate for it, so desperate to be happy and so desperate to be in a perfect relationship and to marry and have this big dream that I thought I wanted. And when it didn’t happen, I didn’t become angry or bitter but decided that I didn’t need it.
For the first time in many years, I decided that I was fine by myself and that I would remain by myself for a while. I didn’t have to learn this or come to it in any other way: I just needed to take that decision and I took it. And as soon as I made that decision, it all fell into place. He literally just showed up.
David: I wasn’t looking so I really wouldn’t know how to look for it. I do think a lot of it depends on where you are in your life and who you run into.
What advice do you have for couples going through a hard time?
Roxana: You just have to persevere and be patient. Always respect the other person and give them the benefit of the doubt, trust them.
David: You have to be open to change and to dealing with what is changing and help to influence it and not be a victim of it because change is always going to happen.
One thing I have learnt about love is…
Roxana: It’s constantly changing. It doesn’t stay the same. You have to grow with it and allow it to grow and change you with it. It’s not easy, you have to work at it. We were blessed with 3 wonderful kids and that makes you work much harder at your relationship. Keep the romance alive. Remember the old things: what u fell in love with in the first place. Remember the new things: like the new tire around the belly – all of it! You have to find those new things to love and then love them together.
David: When you are by yourself, you don’t really pay that much attention, you focus on yourself. When you have someone else it is important to try to understand what that person feels, what’s important to them and incorporate that into your lives.
(Interview & write-up by Bianca)