“It’s all because of David Bowie”
Sandra and Luis live in Lisbon, Portugal. They both grew up in Montijo on the outskirts of Lisbon. Sandra moved to England to live and work in London in 1999 when she was just nineteen and lived there on and off until 2017. In 2016, whilst still living in London, Sandra and Luis began dating and a long-distance relationship formed. Eventually, Sandra moved back to Portugal so that they could be together.
I couldn’t wait to speak to Sandra and Luis about what makes a successful relationship and see what love means to them.
Despite knowing each other since their late teens/early twenties, they didn’t exactly hit it off right away. It wasn’t until almost twenty years later that would start dating. Luis remembers “I thought she was a snob and arrogant; it was as though no one that beautiful could be nice. We ignored each other for years”. Sandra agreed “I felt the same way about him”.
In January 2016 Sandra came back to Portugal to visit her family. Sandra said “I was invited to a party by a mutual friend. I didn’t know he would be there. David Bowie had just died and so we talked about how sad it was. That’s when we started talking; we haven’t stopped since”. Later that night they went to a club together along with some friends. The next day Sandra had to fly home to London. The talked and got on well but hadn’t yet kissed. Luis said “I came home and told my mother, I’ve met the girl I’m going to marry.” Things moved slower for Sandra, she had trust issues after the break down of her first marriage several years before, she liked him but wanted to build trust before allowing her feeling to grow.
Sandra visited Portugal again in March and they saw each other again. This time they kissed. In May they took a trip together to Denmark to visit Copenhagen. Sandra said “After that trip we didn’t talk for a week, I really liked him, but I was worried about his partying and drinking behaviour. I never asked him to stop or to change, but he knew how I felt”. Luis said “I told my mother what had happened and she said to me `if you let her go, you’ll never forgive yourself for the rest of your life.` Slowing down and cutting back on drinking wasn’t exactly a bad thing anyway. I flew to London in June and convinced her to fall in love with me. I had to show her that I was different. We spent a lot of time talking in the beginning of our relationship. Talking is so important. It creates a good foundation.”
They became engaged seven months later on Christmas Eve. Luis asked her to marry him in front of all her family. Luis said “I was forty two; I knew what I wanted in a person. Sandra was the first person I had ever truly loved. I found someone who I could be totally myself around. I could be silly and stupid, she understood me. We are very playful; sometimes I hide in our apartment and make her jump.” Sandra agrees “It is important to find someone that you can be yourself around”
They were married in February 2018 with only two week’s notice. Luis explained “We went to City Hall to enquire about how to prepare the marriage paperwork and came out with a date set for two weeks time. We had a very small wedding, just close family.” The next day they went to the North of Portugal for their honeymoon and stayed in a hotel that was formally a monastery. Luis reminisces “Having dinner there that night, I saw the happiness in her eyes. It was beautiful.”
Emmaleen: Can you share a loving story from your relationship?
Sandra: “Luis is very family orientated and before we became a couple, he came over to talk to my mother. That meant a lot to me.”
Luis: “Every time I picked Sandra up from the airport when we were dating, I would bring her flowers. One day, I decided to play a joke on her, I left them on the back seat of the car. When I met her in the airport I could see that she was upset but it was a lovely surprise to give them to her when we got back to the car.”
What is the key to a happy relationship?
Luis: “Forgiveness without losing your identity. Being silly with one another; embracing your inner child and not taking life too seriously.”
What is Love?
Sandra: “A deep friendship that extenuates what you want and need. Respecting each other”
Luis: “For me it is different, I am very romantic. I spent four years on my own, not dating anyone trying to figure out what I want in a relationship. I was raised with a strong female influence, my mother, grandmother and my sister had large roles in my upbringing. Love is like the chills you get when you listen to moving music. It’s that strange feeling you experience in those loving moments which you cannot identify. It’s realising that you share that feeling with another”
What is your advice to anyone looking for love?
Sandra:” Do not lower your standards. Do not succumb to the pressure of being single, it’s never too late. Get to know them and do not be afraid to say no when it’s not right”
Luis: “Never force a feeling. Be aware of the signs. To me it was also beneficial that Sandra had been married before, she had that experience and I grew with that”
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