In honor of Valentine’s Day: Local couples share their special love stories

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we asked our readers to share stories about the love of their lives. A toast to these five, sweet local couples:

Danita and Bob Sillers, Carmel Valley

Our story begins on Aug. 9, 1979, the date we fell in love. Two years later we boarded the Blue Lagoon Cruise. We had seen the movie. It was beautiful and we decided to get married there. Our boat arrived at a small island, dropped anchor and tied the stern off to a palm tree. We dressed in wedding sulus (sarongs) and fragrant leis of palm leaves and plumeria flowers splashed with oil to purify our bodies. We were taken ashore just before sunset, flanked by the ship’s crew dressed as Fijian warriors. Soon we heard the putt-putt of an outboard motor on a dugout canoe carrying an elderly priest from a nearby island.

That day our two souls became one, barefoot on the sand at sunset, on the beautiful island of Nanuya Lai Lai, Fiji. During the ceremony we exchanged rings that my husband Bob made for us. We feasted on traditional roast pig and chicken, drank cava and champagne, and danced in a sandy clearing lit by tiki torches to music played by our Fijian ship’s crew.

To this day we’re very much in love. Every Valentine’s Day for 35 years he’s written me a love poem, which we’ve made into a book that chronicles our love affair.  He brings me flowers.  We tell each other “I love you” every day.  We touch often. We kiss good morning, we kiss goodbye and hello, and kiss goodnight.  We dance.  We remain fully aware of how lucky we are to have a love that has never faded over the years.

Each August we explore new romantic places like Paris, Bora Bora, Rome, Spain, Germany and Mexico, but we’ll never forget our wedding day, barefoot in the sand at sunset on the small island of Nanuya Lai Lai, Fiji.

Michelle and Sean Crawley, Rancho Santa Fe

I met the love of my life at the Village Preschool in Rancho Santa Fe.

You never know when you are going to meet “the one.” I met Sean Crowley at the age of 3 on the playground at the Village Church’s preschool in 1981. Though it was not love at first sight, we grew up together and shared a multitude of parallel memories as “lifers” (K thru 8th) at the Ranch School.

They say that the best marriages begin as best friends. Sean and I became friends in 7th grade while being seated together in Lindy Delaney’s science class. A great friendship turned romantic in the 8th grade and continued to develop throughout our years in high school at Torrey Pines and Santa Fe Christian.  As high school sweethearts, we constantly heard “it wouldn’t last.” We proved everyone wrong with a relationship that not only survived high school — but thrived — and with our parents’ blessing, we made the big jump to the University of Arizona together.

College brought four more years of opportunities to grow together, as well as a very special day our senior year when Sean proposed. I made the easiest and best decision of my life on June 30, 2001 by becoming his wife. After a lovely wedding we finally moved in together, into a home we built across the street from the Village Preschool; bringing it full circle. Our honeymoon lasted the next 12 years as I loved Sean more with each passing day and watched him grow into the amazing man, husband, and father that he is today. On 12-12-12 we were blessed with baby Cara, who I only hope will share in my luck in meeting “the one” when she attends the Village Preschool.

Happy Valentine’s Day Love.

Amy and Preston Sims, Solana Beach

It began when some friends and I walked into a bar called The Camelot Inn in San Marcos and saw him on stage singing in a duo with his sister. I said to my friends, “He’s kinda cute,” and shall we say the rest is history.

Our love story began on that day 24 years ago. This year my husband and I will be celebrating our 20-year wedding anniversary. This may sound cliché but, as time passes, our love continues to grow for each other. I would say that first and foremost, we have fun together. We make each other laugh every single day. I feel cherished. He supports me. He believes in me.  Plain and simple, he loves me.

Through the years we’ve made it through some huge life challenges together beginning when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the beginning of our relationship, through the many years of infertility, the birth of our daughter through a surrogate, the adoption of our son from Russia, my brain surgery to remove a tumor and, most recently, the traumatic loss of both my mother and his sister. At the time, each of these life curves appeared insurmountable. With our shared faith in God and our faith and belief in each other, we’ve not only made it out of those events alive, but we have made it out stronger as a couple because of them.

When we were married, we had our wedding rings inscribed with a famous song quote from John Denver – “For Peace Beyond All Fear.”  I have been blessed with this peace through my husband Preston, for whom I am eternally grateful and know that our love story is yet to write many more chapters.

Yamia and Asaf Benhaim, Carmel Valley

Our story begins nearly 18 years ago, thanks to the handiwork of our parents’ modern-day Jewish matchmaking.

I had just graduated from high school and was off to college at UC Riverside and Asaf at UC San Diego. Our first couple of years together were spent driving back and forth on weekends between Riverside and San Diego. By 2001, we graduated and began living together in the cheapest apartment we could find in the UTC area.

With some money saved up and encouragement from our parents, we decided to start our own internet marketing company. We were just two kids, 21 years old, not even married yet, when our first baby, iMatrix was born. I cold-called at the kitchen table and Asaf built websites in the spare room. I remember the feeling of elation as we signed on some of our first clients. And while other friends our age went out drinking and partying, we stayed in our apartment, working through the night and into the morning. We didn’t eat out at restaurants or take exotic vacations. We never got financial help from parents, loans or investors. Every dollar we made, we saved and put back into iMatrix.

And so, as iMatrix continued to succeed and prosper, so did our relationship. On Aug. 28, 2002, we finally got married in Israel surrounded by our friends and family. In 2005, our first son, Nathan, was born, followed by Noah in 2006, and twins, Talia and Liam in 2010.  Our four children are definitely our biggest success and achievement. Yes, it’s pretty awesome that 12 years ago we started our business in an 800-square-foot apartment and it now operates from a 22,000-square-foot office building in Sorrento Valley, with more than 150 employees and 10,000 clients.  Regardless of all that, our family is still the most important thing and we value that. We never forget our humble beginnings and the teamwork it took to succeed in our business and personal life.  I know we would not be in the position we are in, if it were not for each other — we drive each other.

It’s been an amazing ride together, and I feel so fortunate to have my best friend, business partner, and husband by my side. Sure, four kids and running a business has its challenges, and it’s not always roses and rainbows, but that’s life, and you drive past them together. It’s you and me against the world, Asafy! I love you! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cynthia and Gunnleiv Waage, Del Mar

Cynthia wrote about meeting her husband of 52 years, Gunnleiv, in 1961:

I was giddy with relief as I exited the classroom after a morning of testing. As I waited for my friend, Judy, a swarm of students rushed past me on their way to lunch.  I knew them all except the tall, fair-haired boy in the corduroy suit, white shirt and paisley tie. Our eyes met, we smiled at each other and I thought, “He’s the one for me.”

Just then, Judy arrived. She remarked on the fair-haired boy’s good looks and I agreed with her. We hurried to the parking lot and drove to the local diner in Judy’s car. When we arrived, the waitresses were taking food orders from two-dozen hungry college students. I found an empty booth for us and seated myself next to a window. When I looked up the fair-haired boy was sliding into the place across the table from me.  I know that Judy and two others sat with us that day, but my attention was fixed on the face opposite me as we introduced ourselves and began a conversation that lasted through lunch.

Gunnleiv Waage was the boy’s difficult-to-pronounce Norwegian name and his pleasant voice and interesting stories made for easy listening. Leaving the diner, we agreed to meet later for a drink and more conversation at a local pub after which he would drive me home.

The next day he phoned and we made plans for the following week. Our first date was dinner at an elegant restaurant. His charm, intelligence and affectionate manner left me no choice but to fall in love with him, and I did.

One day led to another and each one found the two of us together. The relationship was so easy and enjoyable that it seemed inevitable that we would never part. 

— Compiled by Karen Billing

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