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By America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts

Here we sit gazing at the beautiful turquoise blue ocean from our perch on the balcony of our room at the Marriott Casa Magna in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico.  We are conducting interviews of successfully married couples in Mexico as we continue our travels around the world searching for the best marriages.

Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel and Luis, two lovebirds who have been married for 33 years.  They come from different backgrounds but are very much in love with each other.

Luis grew up terribly poor in a small town in Mexico just to the west of Leona Vicario.  While his beginnings were humble, he has done well for himself and his family over the years.  He recently became the general manager for a resort hotel in the Caribbean, no small accomplishments for a boy who grew up with 10 siblings in a wooden pole hut with a dirt floor and a palm leaf thatched roof.  

Most of us can only imagine what it was like to grow up that poor in a community where there is very little opportunity.  Luis cut wood stakes at an early age and sold them to other families to burn for cooking and for keeping their homes warm at night.  We were so curious about the little town he grew up in that we rented a car and drove to it earlier this week.  It doesn't look like much has changed over the years.  And those thatched palm leave roofs still adorn the modest huts with the dirt floors for many of the village residents.  Luis has, indeed, come a long way.

Isabel had a different upbringing.  Her father would be considered rich by most any standard.  The view from her bedroom growing up was the beautiful turquoise colored ocean of the Caribbean Sea near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Her father was a land developer along the Mexican Riviera by the Caribbean Ocean.  He got in on the ground floor of a series of resorts that now dot the white sands of the Caribbean Ocean from Cancun to Tulum.  Tourism is now the number one industry in this part of Mexico and Isabel's father got very rich developing those luxury resorts.

As you can imagine, the first time Luis and Isabel met they paid little attention to each other beyond a nod of the head when a friend of one of her brothers, Artemio, introduced them at a local Mercado one Saturday afternoon in Playa del Carmen, where Isabel shopped and Luis worked at a local hotel washing dishes.  

Over time, this daughter of a wealthy land developer and this son of a pauper began to cross paths more frequently at various locations around town.  And as curious as it might sound, they began, as Luis says, "making eyes at each other!"  One warm Caribbean afternoon Luis asked this beautiful rich girl if she would go out with him and for some unexplainable reason according to Luis, she said yes!

Given the traditions of the time, Isabel's father would certainly object strenuously if he found out his daughter was dating a dishwasher.  In her father's day, the families of the bride and groom arranged the marriage.  The thought of a rich girl marrying a poor man was simply out of the question!  Luis and Isabel knew that, but their love for each other grew every time they were together and grew even stronger when they were apart.

So you are asking your self, "What is the rest of this story?"   Did love triumph over family traditions?  Did Luis marry Isabel over the objections of her father?  Well, the truth is, Isabel's father loved her deeply and while he had great apprehension about her daughter's choice of a poor dishwasher for a husband, he did see great promise in Luis.  In fact, he was quite impressed with Luis' intelligence and industriousness.

More importantly, he trusted and respected his daughter's judgment and as he frequently said, his daughter "was just like his wife" – strong, independent, a mind of her own – and he admired his daughter for being the same!  In a country where men often ruled the roost after marriage, Isabel's father was a non-traditionalist.  He admired strong women and could not stand in the way of her desires when it came to the man in her life.  Luis was a good, decent, and honorable young man and if his daughter wanted to marry him, that was good enough for her father.

The wedding was lovely and for a marriage between rich and poor, it was a marriage to remember.  The guest list was long and represented all the social classes of Mexico.  The rich and famous met the poor and the underprivileged.  And in the end, they all danced the night away to the sounds of the best mariachi band in Playa del Carmen!  It seems that in the end, people are just people, irrespective of their socio-economic class.   The marriage of Luis and Isabel are a testament to that.

Now, 33 years later, Luis and Isabel are still madly in love.  They have succeeded where most similar cross-social class marriages in Mexico have failed.  Their marriage has taught them much about the power of love, the importance of family, and the lessons of strength and conviction.  These two lovebirds broke the trend many years ago and are a living portrait of love and marriage, Caribbean style.

Simple things matter in love and marriage.  Choosing the one you love for love tops the list.  Love well!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
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INDIE Book Awards Gold Medal Winner
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal for Relationships and Marriage
Available at GoldenAnniversaries.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and at Bookstores


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