ENGAGEMENT STORY: CHRIS & DOUG
We cannot hold back the “punch line” to this story, but it does just resonate so much: “It is Never Too Late.”
Doug was married to his wife for 22 years. At a rocky point in their relationship, they separated. After 6 weeks of separation, Doug’s wife visited and asked him to come home. Doug’s answer; “I can’t come home. I am finally being the person I am supposed to be. I am gay.” He has been living as an openly gay man for over 20 years.
Similar to Doug, Chris knew he was gay from a young age, but Chris went through “ex-gay therapy” as part of his fundamentalist upbringing. Chris was married for 37 years. Coming out and ending his marriage was driven by suffering from being in the closet and the ensuing PTSD. He came out 4.5 years ago.
Chris and Doug met in May of 2013 on Match.com. After some chatting on the site, the two met for coffee for their first face-to-face meeting. As Chris described: “I entered the coffee shop as Doug was coming out of the washroom and instantly thought, this is someone I can connect with.” Once at the table Doug “took off [my] jacket and saw Chris’s face and thought: ‘yeah, I got him!” Must have been something to do with the fact that Doug is a personal trainer. More importantly, they spent three hours really connecting with each other and the time flew by. Chris stated, “I didn’t want it to end. I felt so comfortable with him, no pretense. I walked him to his car, which just happened to be a Lexus sport coupe Pebble Beach Special Edition. I thought: 'I can deal with this!'”
For their second date, they went on a Day Cruise of the Toronto Harbour on a Tall Ship. Not really taking much notice of the scenery, or the other travel guests, again they were totally absorbed in conversation about their lives, their families, and their life journeys. Doug and Chris were pretty much together every chance they got every weekend for the next 4 months. Chris invited Doug on a vacation escape to St. Maarten. “I had not been on a vacation in 20 years without having a big argument with my travel partner, so I was kind of apprehensive that this vacation may ruin what was developing,” Doug pointed out. “We never argued then and have never fought in four years,” Chris underlined. “We are each other’s soul mate. Our differences of opinions are simply that: different points of view, where we always conclude with compromise and agreement. At our age, life is too short to spend time in arguments. We have always believed that communication is key to a good relationship.”
Chris and Doug remember going on a tour excursion to the French side of St. Maarten on a rainy day. During free time, they found a cozy little French cafe, where they sipped wine under the awning, shared tears and freely spoke to each other about some difficult periods in their lives before they met. It was a precious time together and their feelings for each other deepened further.
From that point onward, the two pretty much spent every weekend together until the summer of 2014, when they bought a home together in a quaint little artsy village in southern Ontario about 1.5 hours outside of Toronto.
Two years into their relationship, Chris and Doug started talking about getting married. “I knew Doug was waiting for me to ask and I was going to do it on a vacation we took to Hawaii, but couldn’t find the right moment.” That moment did come on June 8th, 2016, on the anniversary of their first coffee date.
The two were out to dinner and Chris was ready to pop the question, only to be scuttled by a family with children sitting down next to them and “ruining the ambiance.” So, the two headed outside where it was fairly cool. Chris asked Doug to sit down on a bench beside the river that runs through their village, to watch the swans. Doug replied, “Shouldn’t we just go to the car?! It’s cold.” But, Chris insisted and asked Doug to marry him. His answer was: “Really? Here?! Are you serious or just playing with me?” “Yes, really. Here. It’s for real. I know you have been waiting for some time. I love you very much. Will you marry me?” “Of course I will,” Doug replied.
The two worked with a jewelry designer to design their own rings from gold and diamonds they had and then set out to plan the wedding.
“I had no idea where to start,” said Doug. “I had nothing to do with planning the first one!” So, Doug took to Facebook and sought out a “good wedding planner.” (It is sheer coincidence that the woman they picked shared Doug’s last name.) “She’s been so helpful, especially in finding a photographer comfortable photographing gay men, able to capture the romantic feeling,” said Chris. “We really don’t have to do anything, but being gay men we have to be a little involved!” They also found Men’s Vows on the internet and loved the site!
They are keeping their June 10th wedding very relaxed: “No ties and no dress-up. Just a garden cocktail party,” described Doug. And, while not specifically themed, Doug is incorporating the color teal into the overall design and the two have opted for jackets, open shirts, boutonnieres, and boots for themselves, and have outfitted their children and grandkids in off-white and Taupe.
While the two will marry in an Anglican church, the service won’t be religious, but rather spiritual. And, in honor of Doug’s 20+ years in musical theater, the ceremony will include a couple of their favorite songs from Gershwin to Groban. A close friend of Chris’s – one who helped him through his coming out and divorce – will officiate. Chris’s youngest son will give a reading and Chris’s psychotherapist will be using the reading as well, to speak briefly about Love. Close to the end of the ceremony, we are also having the Rector from the Church give an Aboriginal Blessing. Doug pointed out: “it takes a village to get married!”
As for the reception, the soon-to-be-husbands will host 80 guests in their back yard.
When asked about their registry, they answered: “We had an awful time with that!” Given both men have a “full house,” and recognize that people might want to give them gifts, they’ve simply asked for people, if so inclined, to contribute to “their Wishing Well.” As for their honeymoon, they’re planning a River Cruise in Europe. Given the success of their numerous vacations together since St Maarten, their Honeymoon will no doubt set them on a wonderful life path as husbands.
“By the way, our former wives are attending our wedding,” the two proudly said. “And our kids and grandkids cannot wait to see us married.” Chris said: “When we found each other, I realized that the romance, connection and love that I watched over the years in the movies, and that always seemed to escape me, I found in Doug and in my genuine, authentic being.”
As for Doug, “I thought love had passed me by, but as I analyzed it, I just wasn’t ready. That’s why I had not met Chris until 2013.”
Both Chris and Doug specified that they could not be happier. Their blended family is so supportive and wish all the ‘happiness for us as a married couple’.
As we celebrate Chris and Doug, we want all of you to take great assurance and confidence in the fact that it is never too late for love, especially when you are ready for it. In Chris and Doug, we’ve found great inspiration and example.
We look forward to sharing details of their wedding in our next issue.