Love is an amazing journey. Although finding love is, and always will be, a wonderful development in our lives, as we will see in this story, it may not always be needed in order for us to start on the journey to finding true love.
Isabella lived in a small town called Jimaní which is about 260 kilometers away from Santo Domingo, which is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. In Jimaní, far from the “big city” of Santo Domingo, traditions run deep and familial allegiances mean everything. Isabella had just completed college and had just graduated following a year of advanced degree work at the local branch of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo – the national university of the Dominican Republic. Few people know, and some are absolutely surprised to learn, that this university in the Dominican Republic was founded in 1538 – almost 100 years before Harvard University was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636. At the time of her graduation, Isabella’s very traditional parents decided for Isabella to marry the son of one of Isabella’s father’s best friends.
This was a difficult development for poor Isabella. Unknown to her parents, Isabella had created an account on and often spent time on the website FindAMateForFree.com – or as people simply refer to it – FAMFF.COM. It is a wonderful website – but above all, as the name says, it is FREE! Thus, Isabella enjoyed her time on this website knowing that it was not costing her any money and that she enjoyed speaking with the people she met on there. On FAMFF.COM, Isabella had befriended one or two young men, but these were casual friendships – only online. She felt that she was not yet ready for marriage. She enjoyed the conversation and the friendship with the young men that she met on FAMFF.COM but she did not yet feel ready to commit to such a serious step in life as marriage for life to a partner.
Her parents, however, would not give up so easily. They implored her to at least meet with Francisco – just once. The said “If, when you meet him, you utterly dislike him, we will abide by your wishes.” Since Isabella did not have a serious boyfriend at this time and since her only exploration to finding a boyfriend had been the time she had spent on FAMFF.COM, she made up her mind and decided to meet Francisco.
As it turned out, both Isabella and Francisco were unprepared and unwilling to undertake the important life step that marriage represents. This marriage idea by their parents, was not a very welcome concept for either of these two young people. During their meeting they discovered that the things they liked and disliked were completely different from each other. They did not feel as if they had much in common nor as if they liked or disliked similar things. At the end of their initial meeting, however, Francisco informed Isabella that his father is dying. His dad is suffering from advanced stages of cancer and does not have long to live. Francisco mentioned that his dad’s final wish before he passes away is to see his prized son get married in his presence. Frank further added that “Although there is nothing that we feel as a match between us, for the sake of our combined family’s happiness, would she consider getting married – but in name only? He said that, after a period of time, when his father passes and when the family is more comfortable with the idea, they can quietly divorce and seek partners that they wish.”. Francisco asked Isabella, “would you marry me as my friend?” Isabella understood what this meant. There would be no consummation of the marriage. No common bed. No intimacy. This was simply to be a marriage between friends for the sake of their combined families. She thought of it and said “yes!” She said that she was ready to accept his “friendship proposal.” She said yes.
Isabella was a family-oriented girl and she always prioritized her emotions. Also, Jimaní on the south coast of the Dominican Republic was a small town steeped in tradition and allegiances going back hundreds of years – and she did not want to upset these things. Although she was not in love with him, for the greater good of all concerned, still she said yes.
Their parents were overjoyed with the decision by the young people and set a wedding date for the marriage. Because of Francisco’s father’s failing health, the marriage ceremony was performed within just two weeks after the couple agreed to marry. Now they were – officially at least – husband and wife as far as their society knew, but secretly between the two of them, they were simply friends who had agreed to this for the sake of their families. Although in public at various functions, they behaved as a married couple, intimately and between themselves, they behaved simply as friends with each other. Little by little, however, they began to get to know each other better. Day by day, with small interactions, they learned more and more about each other.
Yes, there were moments when the mismatches between them caused moments of mild disputes between them. There were times, following one of these small skirmishes, when they did not speak to each other for days. Little by little, however, there developed a growing closeness between them, a sense of understanding and closeness that only comes with time and exposure to someone. Little by little, without either of them knowing it, there was a growing of the existence of love between them. They realized that when something or some event separates them, they both eagerly await to get together again and to spend time with each other. After one year of their ”friendship” marriage, Francisco realized that he was actually deeply in love with Isabella. He brought presents for Isabella on their wedding anniversary and proposed to her. He sat down on his knees, held her hands and said, “My dear friend Isabella, it has been an amazing year with you. As time has passed, I have realized that you are the girl of my dreams. Will you marry me again but this time for real – as my life partner”? There were tears both Francisco’s and Isabella’s eyes. As this year passed, she also had found that Francisco is the man of her dreams. She loves the truth, honesty, and calmness in his eyes. She loves the way he cares for her and how he makes her feel when he is around. Isabella sat down in the same way Frank was sitting and gave him a warm kiss on his head and said, “A year ago I said yes to be your friend partner, but today I say yes to being your real life partner.”
That is how Francisco and Isabella again performed their marriage ceremony after their initial marriage and started their true and real journey of love as husband and wife. A year into their “marriage – friendship” they started a real-life phase of life as a married couple.
In their initial “marriage”, they had not gone anywhere for a honeymoon, but on this marriage, they went for their honeymoon in Switzerland. They collected memories in the form of pictures and spent quality time together by enjoying each and every moment of their trip. After returning home from their trip, they designed and built their dream home – one with room for a little one that Isabella announced would come to grace their lives in the next 9 months! Each year Isabella and Francisco celebrate two wedding anniversaries. One where they fell in like and one where they fell in love.