Manny and Karee have been married 14 years and have 6 kids – five girls ages 13, 9, 7, 5 and 3, and one boy age 11 – lot of girls in the house! Manny is a psychiatrist, and Karee is a blogger at Can We Cana. They are writing a Catholic marriage advice book together to be published in 2016.
Every couple has valuable treasure hidden in their relationship. The objective of our Featured Couple interviews is to “mine” and share that treasure with other couples – in order to encourage, inspire and motivate them to become better spouses and build better marriages!
Today’s featured Spouse Date couple is Dr. Manny and Karee Santos.
How did you first meet?
We met briefly through a mutual friend, exchanging rushed greetings while crossing a busy street in midtown Manhattan, and the moment passed. Two years down the road, we met again at a party given by the same mutual friend.
What was your first date? What encouraged you to keep dating?
Karee: On our first date, we joined ten of Manny’s colleagues at a barbecue restaurant. The second date was a picnic and a concert at Central Park.
Manny: It may sound cliché, but after I met Karee I couldn’t stop thinking about her and more than dating, I needed to know her better, in person, by email, by any and all means possible. The more I knew about her, the more certain I was that this person was placed in my life for a reason. Looking back at how we met and how our relationship progressed always brings a smile to my face. I could go on but I’ll stop there.
What was your best date ever and what made it so outstanding?
Back when our second child had just turned one year old, we got babysitting for the whole weekend and went to a little bed-and-breakfast together. We called it our Hot Date Weekend. That was 11 years ago!
How do other people describe you as a couple?
Manny: That’s a tough one. A good friend of mine whom I’ve worked with for 20 years and who is sadly in the midst of a divorce says we’re the only exception to her cynical and rather negative view of marriage.
Karee: My mother describes us as loving and totally committed to each other, to the family and to making the world a better place. But that’s what moms are supposed to say.
What’s one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a couple and how has that challenge affected your marriage? How would you encourage other couples that may be facing this challenge?
In December 2000, nine months after we got married and five months after we conceived our first child, Manny was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. Since then, Manny has suffered through three more brain tumors (usually while I am hugely pregnant). Every time, we’ve clung to our love for each other and for God, renewing our commitment to love to the end. And yet every time it’s gotten harder. These are the junctures where the rubber hits the road. Are you committed to forever no matter what? Is your spouse? Are you in it for yourself or are you in it for each other? How much do you trust God to take care of your future? It helps to be surrounded by couples who believe in forever and will pray for you and emotionally support you.
What are some marriage resources that have helped you build a better marriage?
Good babysitters are probably our number one marriage resource! We try to have a Hot Date Night once a month and couldn’t do it without babysitters. Also, the Bible has a surprising amount of marriage advice on everything from in-laws to finances.
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that you have had in your marriage and how that has helped you become a better spouse.
Karee: In the early years of our marriage, we couldn’t imagine how anyone could find their spouse difficult to be around. But recently, I wailed to my mother on the phone, “Marriage is hard!!” She shot back, “You’re just finding that out?” And she and my dad have been married 50 years. It helped to learn that marital difficulties are okay. They’re normal and you can get through them.
When you think about your future together, what are you most excited about?
Manny: Facing life’s inevitable ups and downs together while holding hands and kissing like we just got married.
Karee: Well, we have some important milestones coming up. Our oldest child is entering high school next year and our youngest will be starting kindergarten. Also, seeing our marriage advice book published in 2016 will be a terrific culmination of all the work and research we’ve been doing together.
What is your idea of the ideal date?
Repeat of Question number three: get babysitting for the whole weekend and go to a bed-and-breakfast together.
Manny and Karee, thanks so much for sharing your story! I love your advice to surround yourselves with other couples who will support your marriage. Looking forward to your book!