Twenty-one was a magic number for Sean and Mary when they first met. No, they weren’t playing blackjack or looking to get their first drink. “21” signified the total number of siblings each had. Mary had 11 brothers and sisters to Sean’s 10, and it’s not surprising their family experiences formed the common bond that brought them together on CatholicMatch.
“I must have looked over her profile a dozen times but moved on,” Sean, then 29-years-old, recalled. “She was alerted each time so I must have looked like some weirdo.” A seven-year age gap was the block holding him up, but finally he gave in and sent her a note telling her a little bit about his family.
Mary would later say that she knew right away she could marry Sean, but the first months of their communication stayed platonic, as they shared stories of their respective family experiences. “It took me FOREVER to come around,” Sean said. Indeed, though he lived in Iowa and she was just over the border in Wisconsin, making a face-to-face meeting easily doable, it took a year for their first date to occur.
Sean found meeting Mary’s father to be a little nerve-wracking, but found common ground on the movie Bullit, a film Mary tipped Sean that her father liked. And once Sean was in the house, he was right at home.
“Mary was impressed that I didn’t follow her around like a lost puppy,” Sean told CatholicMatch. “Previous suitors had. Instead, she was almost a little hurt that I could comfortably disappear and play ping pong or football with the kids.”
The return visit to Sean’s family went just as well. “My dad likes to gauge people by saying off-the-wall things. Mary didn’t even flinch,” Sean recalled. His father was impressed.” With the couple hitting it off, blending into the “controlled chaos” they affectionately called their family lives and each winning the approval of the other’s parents, marriage was the logical next step.
It still took some time for Sean to reach that conclusion. “Mary reacts confidently while I tend to think things over,” Sean said. Although I think it’s fair to say that thinking things over should not be confused with a lack of confidence. One person who was extremely confident was Mary’s father, who in giving his opinion to his daughter said “I don’t want you to date Sean…I want you to marry him.”
When Sean reached the decision to propose, he got together with his future mother-in-law to implement the plan. She talked Mary into a “girls weekend” of watching movies together. Therefore Mary was completely caught off guard on Friday night when Sean showed up. The element of surprise on his side, he took her for a walk the following day and as they crossed over a wooden bridge, he proposed.
Sean and Mary are not only settled into married life and started on their own family, but their success has extended to others. His sister Katherine and Mary’s brother Pete met at the wedding—they have now wed and are started on a family of their own. It’s a good thing Sean and Mary adjusted the wedding date to accommodate Pete’s tour of duty in Iraq. And the sweetest victory is that Sean’s brother Shea, a vocal skeptic of online dating, joined CatholicMatch and found his own spouse on the site.
“He used to call Mary the ‘weird Internet girl’, Sean said. After the marriage though, Shea secretly joined CatholicMatch and not until his e-mail was accidentally left open and his brother saw the various CatholicMatch notifications was the jig up.
One connection online led to not one, not two, but three marriages Those marriages have produced seven kids, four of which belong to Sean and Mary, now wed for six years. The blessings keep growing in Iowa.