It took 14 years.
They met in college during the heady days of Greek life and Herschel Walker. Fall football and spring socials found button-down fraternity boys longing for the patterned sundresses on the sorority girls. The times when coupling is an adventure and auditions happen for the potential life-long gig.
These two met among mutual friends. Friends so close that in time they began to refer to themselves as "The Family." As college came to a close, the young and innocent partiers graduated to the real life of jobs and committed relationships. Most of those who were paired began to predictably marry.
Frank and Lisa were no different than the other members of The Family. Good times were plentiful in college and the relationships were deep and meaningful. Engagement for them was as joyful as it was expected.
But Lisa's life was unsettled, things were happening beyond her control. Most destructively, her parents' bitter relationship was wasting under the challenge of an empty nest.
It was 1984 and with 10 days before the wedding, Lisa panicked and pulled out of Frank's life. He was devastated. Who could understand her decision? His friends came to his defense. Obviously she had problems. Her character was questionable. She was no good for him anyway, they said. Move on with your life, they said.
And he tried. He dated. Frank had several long-term relationships. But he just couldn't commit to marry. One even had children that he parented as well as a long-term boyfriend can. But he had lost his one true love. He knew he would never love that way again.
Lisa moved on, literally. She left the state, found love and married. And all seemed to go well until it didn't. Arguments unresolved led to bitterness and resentment. Her dissatisfaction with him -- and with her own life -- led to greater distance. Divorce became the reasonable outcome.
It was a totally random and somewhat awkward moment when they found themselves in the same gate at the Denver airport waiting to fly to Atlanta. The time and the space dictated their closeness. They chatted, cautiously. Slowly probing life's movements they shared their ups and downs during the past decade.
Oddly, Frank was concerned with what his friends would think. The Family had been through many more football Saturdays, babies born and even the death of a parent. It was weird to think of bringing her back into the fold. He and Lisa cautiously began to talk.
But it was too late already. From the moment they locked eyes, they began to imagine the possibilities, allowed hope to flicker and the die was cast. Friends would have to understand.
They set the wedding date. They would be married on the same date, in the same church, and with the same people gathered as would have gathered 14 years before.
He says she was definitely worth the wait. She says she's a better wife for the lessons life has taught her. The race goes to the passionate, not necessarily the fast. True love really does prevail.
Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and works with individuals and couples. Contact him at Bruce@BruceConn.com or call 478-742-1464.