"If you're not willing to argue anymore, that's when it's over"
Jackie and Allan reside in North Carolina, the Nicholas Sparks State of romance. Jackie was raised in the Wilmington area. Allan was born in Mexico City, moving to California when he was two months old. Thereafter he went to school in Mexico whilst spending his summers and all his spare time in California. At twenty, Allan enrolled in college in Missouri, but halfway through felt that his career wasn't moving in the direction he wanted. 9/11 happened, and it triggered his move to leave school and join the Marines. He was then stationed in Jacksonville, North Carolina, that's where he met Jackie.
I couldn’t wait to speak to Jackie and Allan about what makes a successful relationship and see what love means to them.
Jackie and Allan met in 2006 online. Jackie winked, Allan replied, "intrigued." After messaging for months, they finally met for a first date in a coffee shop. It was that first date, after a healthy debate on the criminal justice system, which sealed the deal for Jackie. He was a keeper. After four years of dating, they became engaged, and two years later they were married.
After only a few months of dating, Allan was deployed to Iraq. Jackie recalled "I couldn't stop thinking about him; we had gone from spending every spare minute together to being apart. I would send him care packages constantly. I would go to the grocery store and have as much in my cart for him as I did for me. I would put post-it notes on all the items. One day in Walmart, I looked down, and all the items in my cart were for him". Allan was slower to open up his feelings. Allan said, "I was in the midst of being deployed and had had a previous unsuccessful marriage, and so I took it slow." Jackie was patient during this time; she understood the realities of PTSD, her background in psychology proving helpful.
After Allan finished his service in the Marines, he went back to finish his education, after which he then moved back to California and asked Jackie to come with him. Jackie agreed to move across the country to be with him, and on the very day, she arrived Allan proposed. The ring that he has ordered hadn't yet arrived, so he proposed with a toy dolphin ring. When the actual ring arrived, Allan surprised Jackie by slipping it on her finger whilst she slept.
They still have that toy dolphin ring today. Allan said "marriage wasn't actually as important to me. Jackie living with me meant that I was already committed for life. Marriage isn't really love; it's just a title. It's not going to make it stronger or weaker. I was already committed".
After spending a few years together in California, they moved back to North Carolina to get married and raise a family, where Jackie now runs a successful photography business, Blink Photography, in the Charlotte area.
Emmaleen: Can you share a loving story from your relationship?
Jackie: "Before we were married, when Allan was finishing school in Missouri, and I was living in North Carolina the situation arose that we would be apart one Thanksgiving. Allan surprised me by driving twenty-three hours straight to be with me for only one day; he then had to drive the twenty-three hours back the next day. He spent more time in the car than he did with me. As I fell asleep that night he started to sing to me; it was the song 'I can't help falling in love with you.' He didn't know that I was still awake, but I was"
What is the key to a happy relationship?
Allan: "First you need a healthy relationship. You have to be able to have separate lives, which come together to make it better. It needs to make you happy to think about it, coming home to an empty house is okay but coming home to the one you love makes you fulfilled.
Jackie: "A love based on friendship. We spent lots of time writing to one another and being on the phone at the beginning of the relationship which strengthened our friendship. There needs to be a sense of commitment from both people. Truth and communication are key. You can't have effective communication without truth. If there is no trust, how can you communicate properly? Allan once said to me which I think is very true, 'I'm not worried about the fights, I'm worried about us stopping arguing, as if you're not willing to argue anymore, that's when it's over.' Relationships can be tough but working on them together is what makes them work."
What is love?
Allan: "Being attracted and emotionally attracted to each other."
Jackie: "Caring more about someone than you do yourself."
What advice do you have for someone looking for love?
Allan: "Don't look for it, it will find you. I didn't go out there looking to find love, I was looking for a companion, but love found me."
Jackie: "I see it a little differently; if I wasn't looking for love then we wouldn't necessarily be together. You must stay true to yourself. Don't change who you are to be with the person you want to be with, or it will all fall apart. Identify what you want in a partner and don't settle with anything less. I knew I wanted someone honest and someone who made me laugh; hair color didn't matter. I didn't compromise, and it has made me happy."
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