"I can't think about not being with him."
Carol and Alan reside in Sao Carlos, Brasil with their two sons. Alan is from Belo Horizonte, and Carol grew up in Americana, which is where they met, back in 2006. Carol had been working as an au pair in the United States in 2005 and arrived back in Brasil in January 2006, when she took a job as an English teacher in an elementary school. At that school, Alan was a history teacher. They didn't get on at first, but all their students wanted them to get together.
I couldn’t wait to speak to Carol and Alan about what makes a successful relationship and see what love means to them.
They were different, very different. Alan said, "we weren’t in the same social groups. When Carol came back from the States, the students all thought that she was cool, I thought she was important”. Carol continued, “Alan was smart and sensible; he has a Masters degree and has a doctorate. He was shy. Eventually, I asked him if he could teach me to take some photos, he agreed, and we started dating" They got together in December 2006 and two weeks into the relationship Alan took Carol to a park to take some photographs of her. After, back at his apartment, as he made her dinner, she fell asleep on his sofa. Alan said, "I looked over at her and thought she is the woman for me." Carol commented, "I never actually had a moment where I realized that he was the one, I just thought that we were so well connected, together we made our relationship strong. I couldn't live without him anymore. I can't think about not being with him.”
They moved in together a few months later in April 2007. Carol said, "It wasn't easy at first, he had his routine, we had to learn how to deal with each other. But we grew stronger, and we understood each other's needs." They became engaged in April 2010 when planning a trip to Buenos Aires. Carol recalls, "I just said to Alan, why not make it a honeymoon trip? And he agreed.” They married three months later in July. Alan wasn't as concerned about getting married, he said, "In my mind, we got married the point when we started to living together. The commitment was no different to me because I signed a piece of paper.”
They married in a very simple ceremony in a Catholic church. Carol said, "we did things differently, most weddings here in Brasil take place in the evening, our wedding took place in the day. We had a barbeque after. We just had close friends and family in attendance. We left the church on a motorcycle, we were so happy in that moment. It was all the way we wanted.”
Emmaleen: Can you share a loving story from your relationship?
Carol: "One time when we were dating, we had a fight. Then at school, he grabbed his guitar and started playing and sang to me. He then apologized and gave me some flowers. It worked".
Alan: "Carol has a way of caring about me that is really special when I get anxious or worried about work, she calms me down with a head massage or happy stories. To me, this is a loving story as it shows her compassion and attention to my wellbeing.
What is the key to a happy relationship?
Carol: “Conversation is very important. Be open and tell them your feelings and emotions. Share your fears; they need to know what’s going on in your head. Respect is very important, even though we have been together for twelve years, we are very different, we respect each other and what we both like. We both continue the hobbies we like, we don’t have to do them together. I think that is healthy.”
What is love?
Alan: “It doesn’t matter how big the other things are, they are not bigger than the desire to be together.”
Carol: “It is when we love so much, that you just want to be together and make the other person happy."
What advice do you have for someone looking for love?
Carol: “This is what I said to a friend the other day, she has a strong desire to find someone and get married. When you stop looking, you will become more open-minded and see things in a different way. You will see something that makes your day brighter. Then you will find it, love can be anywhere. Enjoy yourself, and it will show up.
Alan: "If you look too much, you won't see what is right there in front of you."
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