Most people remember something romantic when they talk about a meeting of hearts. You hear stories of one person meeting the other in a coffee shop or perhaps bumping into each other in the workplace. For Mikee & Sam, it all started with socks, of all things. Mikee’s coach had asked Sam—who didn’t know Mikee at the time—to hand him a pair of socks. It was an odd request. Too odd for a girl to oblige to—but deliver them to him she did. What Sam didn’t know was that it would set off a series of events that would eventually lead to the photographs below.

One of those moments was when Draco, Mikee’s best friend in college, asked Sam who her crush was in order to fish out information for Mikee. Draco went as far as randomly sharing a “fake crush” to Sam so she would also open up to him. With things going as planned, Sam replied, “Gusto ko yung kasama mo palagi, si Mikee ba yun? Ang bait niya eh.” If the scene could have been scripted any better, angels would have sung hallelujah in unison. The odd thing about it is Draco didn’t tell Mikee immediately about the serendipitous news because he knew there would be so many opportunities for the two to meet. And when Sam and Mikee formally and officially met during a victory party, there was no stopping their story.

After a months of getting to know each other, Mikee and Sam finally became boyfriend and girlfriend and started a challenging journey. One of the couple’s most difficult challenges came when they were both professionals already as they found themselves sustaining a long-distance relationship. Mikee would pursue a career in Canada while Sam started teaching in Singapore. It was during these trying times that they would learn the true definition of love.

They learned that not everything new they discover about each other was necessarily good nor enjoyable. In patience, they learned to be more understanding of each other as both would learn how to adjust to each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. In kindness, they learned how to speak gently after having disagreements. Mikee would call Sam’s phone over and over just to be able to fix a misunderstanding or even just to apologize. They are just about the gentlest souls that you will ever meet yet when it comes to fighting for the survival of their love for each other, these two are warriors in every sense of the word. In most cases, they didn’t expect it, but every little squabble or quarrel that they went through, every time they would patch things up and say, “Let’s fix this”, every decision they made in order to do the right thing, would be a direct reflection of how they fought for the relationship.

In 2015, the couple finally tied the knot in a civil wedding. It was a leap of faith as they would still be living and working in different countries even after their civil union. And even though they spent more time apart than together, they endured so many cold, lonely nights wishing for this day to come.

Every successful couple’s timeline will be littered with challenges. Mikee & Sam’s story is no different. They have literally gone against the odds of time and space and have come out the other end stronger than ever. Four years of being apart after being married to the love of your life is no easy feat—even for these two. They had their share of frustrations and trials yet when asked if it was worth it, I don’t think Mikee & Sam would hesitate to agree that it was. Both acknowledged that they knew they were right for each other because they didn’t hold the other person back.

After getting to know them, you would easily conclude that they’re two of the best people you’ve met in this world. Both are easy to get along with and have hearts of gold. I only met Mikee a few weeks before the wedding but what struck me about him was he was just as kind and as Sam. If you’ve ever uttered the words, “These two were made for each other”, then it would apply to them with a few more superlatives describing the two. However similarly-molded both are, they would be the first to tell you that they have had their share of differences.

Some of the most significant realizations that I’ve had have come after I’ve witnessed how two people face their wedding day. Mikee & Sam’s day started out literally with overcast skies which didn’t bode well for the rest of the day. As the chairs were being set up outdoors, it started to rain so the stylists had to make a decision of moving everything under the tent. To some families, it would be both a logistical disaster, perhaps for some brides, it would have been considered as a huge wrinkle on their big day, but for Mikee & Sam, they focused on the big picture because for them, the only essential thing for them that day was they were finally together. Looking at how they responded, it simply humbles you and forces you to refocus on what really is important in your life. Some couples like Mikee & Sam simply let go and allow God to direct everything in their lives–from the intricate to the insurmountable–and these two modeled that completely. You can’t help but hold a conviction that no matter what happens in their future, a bright and triumphant story awaits.

Most of the love stories you hear during weddings are highlights. Yet we forget that before everyone’s “Happily Ever After” moment, several behind-the-scenes happen. People fight, some people break up and get back together, while others—like these two—spend years apart. These are the kinds of moments that you never forget: the ones that make you stronger even when your heart and soul are breaking each and every day, longing for the one you love. Love isn’t easy and it never will be. It is not for the faint-hearted. If you aren’t willing to risk everything in love, then you’re not doing it right. It never thrives with any “Plan B” because if you’re not willing to give a person your all, then you’re not loving them with your all. I guess that’s what’s so mysterious about love: effort doesn’t guarantee success. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try with everything that you have. Mikee & Sam reminded me of how it’s okay to have a different love story than others—and being different from the rest is exactly what makes yours more beautiful. They taught me that just because things are difficult doesn’t mean that you should give up with what you have. Their dedication reminded me that even though you’re totally different in your taste of music or movies, the only thing you need for your love to grow is to see the other for who they really are and to celebrate them. Not “despite” of the differences but because of them.

To the silent fighters–the ones who do not know the meaning of giving up, the relentless and the tireless as well as the lovers of the long game, may you always celebrate the pauses of your life and love fiercely in the moment.

Your love is on the way.