She Knew He Would Be Her Husband in 4th Grade

Angela and Raffaele on their wedding day

For many people finding love is a long complicated painful process. Some believe that you have to kiss many frogs to find the one that turns into your prince/princess charming. That was not the case for Angela (40) and Raffaele (41). Their love story is so simple, and the simplicity of it is what makes their love story so special and unique, even exciting.  I’ve asked Angela to share their story and her personal outlook on relationships with hope that some of you might get inspired.

 Angela and Raffaele grew up in Italy, in a town called Sezze, 70km (42mi) south of Rome. They first met in fourth grade in 1986 and married in 2001, at the age of 25. Right after their wedding, Raffaele was hired by a known high-tech company and the couple moved to Milan, where they lived for 11 years and had two children, now ages 13 and 6.  Five years ago, due to Raffaele’s job, the family relocated to the Seattle area, where Angela has started her business Bellangela, where she teaches Italian cooking classes and let her students experience authentic Italian lifestyle. The couple now expects their third child, the first to be born in the US.

Angela and Raffaele's love story
Angela and Raffaele today

How did you and Raffaele meet?

I first met Raffaele in 1986, when he joined my class in fourth grade. At first I didn’t like him. I had a good reason: our teacher brought us candies and gave him more than anyone else because he hadn’t brought his own. When I noticed that, being the opinionated girl that I was, I told the teacher, ”You teach us that ‘the law is equal for everybody’. You can’t tell us this and then give him more candies.” That special treatment made me unhappy with him. Now I don’t know if I didn’t like him for that specific reason, or maybe because deep down I really did like him and didn’t want to; young people hate before they love. Later that year our class went on a field trip and our parents joined us. I don’t know why, but I went to his grandmother and told her, ”I really like your grandson. I will marry him and we will have a lot of children”. But it wasn’t until we were 16 when something deeper developed between us.  It was when he showed up at my house to a brunch that my mother organized for all of my old friends that I hadn’t met for years. It was a rainy day and Raffaele got all wet when he rode his motorbike to my home.  I cannot explain it, but when I saw him with his wet black curly hair, I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God. He is a man. A really good looking one too.’ That was the moment when I realized that he was no longer the little kid who got more candies than I did. The next day I wanted to call him, but couldn’t do it myself. I asked my best friend Vania, who is also my cousin, to come by my house and call him for me. Just as she was picking up the phone to call, the phone rang. She answered, looked at me, and said, ”It’s him.“ So for the record – he called me first. He invited me the next day to come to his house to do homework together. The next day was February 7th, 1994 and we have been together ever since.  

Angela and Raffaele's love story
Angela, sitting second from left, and Raffaele, standing third from left, in 4th grade

Angela and Raffaele's love story
Angela and Raffaele on his 18th birthday

Angela and Raffaele's love story

Angela and Raffaele's love story
Angela and Raffaele as a young couple in Europe

What would you tell people who fall in love at a young age and then decide to take a break and try relationships with other people?

Maybe they didn’t find the one. When you find the one, you are sure about that person and you don’t want to try anyone else. I had feelings for other kids, but it wasn’t nearly as strong as what I felt for Raffaele. Even now, with his belly and his hair gone (I’m not the same as I was either!), I still think that he is handsome and the best one for me.

How do you know that you have met the right person?

You don’t know, you just feel. Trust your guts and feel the butterflies. That’s how it was for me. True love is when you feel that you want to spend the rest of your life with this person, when you are willing to fight for them, and make them the best person for you.

How do you make someone the best person for you?

Compromise, be sincere, talk, communicate, and ask for what you need from him/her. Work as a team and make sure that each carries half of the responsibility of the house, children, and family.

What is your secret for a long successful marriage?

Work like a team. Make sure that you want the same things in life, don’t be afraid of adventures, and be willing to support each other.

What is your recommendation to keep love going after so many years of marriage?

Dedicate some time to be a couple.  It’s great to be a close family, but a couple needs time to just be a couple: be intimate, go out for dinner or a movie. Sitting together for dinner with the whole family, hopefully with a nice tablecloth, also helps a lot to strengthen the team feeling.

What is your relationship advice for men?

Trust your woman and ask her to guide you how to make her happy.  When a wife is happy the family is even happier.

What is your relationship advice for women?

You are what you feel. Take care of yourself and do what makes you feel good, even something simple like putting on makeup. When you feel good about yourself, your husband and other people can feel that too.