Electronic communication is pervasive these days, even when it comes to romance.
Tahlequah residents Cathy and Dan Cott have been married over 16 years, and met - or rather, chatted - for the first time online.
“We met in a chat room online for people in Oklahoma,” said Cathy. “He was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Enid at Vance AFB, and I lived in Norman and worked at The University of Oklahoma.”
Cathy and Dan emailed and talked on the phone for a month before they actually met face-to-face.
“I guess it was kind of love at first sight, because after our actual first date, I told my best friend, ‘I’m going to marry this man. He different than anyone I’ve ever known,” said Cathy.
Dan said technology wasn’t nearly as advanced back then.
“We hit it off immediately [online] and filled a profound void in each other,” said Dan. “But we didn’t trade photos before we met. This was in the time of text-only [online chatting] on a bulletin board system. So, to a degree, it was certainly love before first sight.”
The Cotts talked to the Press separately, but the similarity of the answers to questions gives evidence as to why their marriage is a success. They agree intelligence was a key attraction factor in their relationship.
“He is smart,” said Cathy. “That intelligence translates into great conversations, a hilarious sense of humor, a person who is interested in all kinds of subjects and activities, and he just makes me laugh and feel happy.”
Dan was drawn to Cathy’s intelligence, humor and independent streak.
“What attracted me to Cathy are the things I still love about her: her intelligence, her humor and her independence,” said Dan. “After nearly 17 years, we can still go out for a meal together and have more to talk about than time allows.”
Cathy attributes their marital success to teamwork. Dan agrees, but also pointed out they maintain individual interests.
“I have always maintained that every day we are with each other is because we choose to be, not because we need to be,” said Dan.
Cathy appreciates Dan’s compassion and fairness.
“I feel Dan’s greatest strength is his ability to see both sides of most situations and play devil’s advocate,” said Cathy. “It makes him a compassionate person when many people might not be. His weakness might be some of the same thing.”
Dan believes Cathy’s greatest strength is her capability as a great wife, mother and individual.
“I guess her greatest weakness would be an unexplainable affinity for chicken casserole,” said Dan.
Cathy related an interesting incident about name changes when the couple first married.
“My [last name] was Scott before I married Dan, and his, of course, is Cott,” said Cathy. “We thought that our names only being one letter apart was so funny. Well, our two oldest kids from my first marriage are Scotts. When I would fill out forms and put both names on them, the helpful people at the schools would always try to correct my spelling. I have to put a note on all their forms telling people that it’s not an error, that our names are Scott and Cott and to please not change anything.”
The Cotts advise couples considering marriage to share life, but also make time for individual activities, to overlook small differences of opinion, and to apologize when you’re wrong.
“You won’t always agree on everything and you shouldn’t,” said Cathy. “Admit when you’ve done something you’re sorry for, apologize and move on; don’t keep score, don’t hold grudges. Every time you part from your loved ones, not just spouses, tell them you love them.”
Her special Valentine’s Day message to Dan is more of a thank-you note.
“Thank you for not running away screaming when we met after you found out I was older, divorced, had a teenage son and a pre-pubescent daughter,” said Cathy. “Thank you for giving me our bonus baby, who is so much like the both of us that we knew it before she was even born. I don’t think anyone else could be married to either one of us; we’re a matched set.”
Dan’s message to Cathy was similar.
“I cannot think of any better way to spend my time on Earth than with you,” he said. “Thank you for being my partner in everything.”
Like the Cotts, Olga and Richard Hoenes met online – also in a forum with no photo capability. The Hoeneses have been married for 12 years.
“We met on he MOO in the early 1990s,” said Olga. “Don’t ask me what the letters stand for. Rich may know. It’s a social network. It’s like Facebook without the pictures.”
Richard said a MOO is similar to a massively multiplayer online role-playing game – MMORPG – only for social interaction, instead of fighting.
“We actually met very briefly once before on another site, where I was warned to stay away from her because she was a crazy troublemaker,” said Richard. “When we met up later, I didn’t realize it was the same person about whom I was warned.”
Richard was attracted to Olga’s humor, her outgoing personality. Olga was intrigued by Richard’s online posts.
“I was attracted to his reaction or answers to things people talked about,” said Olga. “He was rather sweet and innocent. I know better now, ha! He’s evil.”
Olga and Richard attribute their marital success to separations in their togetherness.
“I stay out of his business and he stays out of mine,” said Olga. “We have separate ‘stuff,’ like bank accounts, etc.”
“We don’t feel the need to do everything together or to force our interests or points of view on each other,” he said. “We don’t try to change each other.”
Olga appreciates Richard’s wealth of knowledge.
“His strengths are his faith and knowledge of many things. Some are useless facts, and he knows lots of useful stuff,” she said. “He’s a master of keeping things to himself when, unlike me, he could tell someone off for their ignorance on certain topics. His weakness? Amazon.”
Richard admires Olga’s resiliency.
“She’s been through a lot, but always comes up swinging, and without losing her generous heart and spirit,” he said.
“Her weakness would be that her self-image isn’t always the best. She tends to sell herself short.”
Olga advises couples considering marriage to wait.
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