Suzanne and Alan Moberly of Littleton, New Hampshire recall their early relationship as professor and student, the obstacles that kept them apart, and the chance encounter that, years later, brought them together.
Suzanne: I thought it would be interesting if we could record for posterity the history of our love affair considering that people wanted to gossip about us for at least two or three years after we were married. So I thought it would make a good story. I was married and my first husband, as I always tell all my students, the most hideously stupid thing I ever did in my life; marrying when I was in college. But it had its benefits because it helped frame our relationship later. I graduated from college in 1978. I worked at the college from, till 1980. For me I had always had this real attraction and this affection for Alan because he had been my professor and he had also been extremely encouraging to me. The fact that I was dealing on a daily basis with this person who took great delight in making me feel bad about myself and my life in general, but yet seemed to be madly in love with me, was that dichotomy of typical abusive relationship that having someone I had enormous respect for and that I always defined you as being one of the kindest and most decent men that I’d ever met. So that was also part of the attraction. So then when I found myself in possession of this special delivery letter, and of course I had already made up my mind that I was soon going to be leaving that relationship because as you know after graduating summa cum laude and finding myself driving around delivering mail and crying every day. That I’d finally reached the point where I was strong enough to divest myself of that relationship. So I came in and I remember us talking about it and when you told me that...Well, why don’t you tell who the letter was from and what you said? Alan: I don’t remember who the letter was from. Suzanne: It was from your soon-to-be ex-wife and the minute I found out that you were going to be on the market so to speak I was very pleased and then you had also encouraged me. Remember what you said that it wasn’t worth it staying in a marriage that wasn’t going to work out. It was just pure torture. The closer that I had come to actually leaving my first husband there was a lot of turmoil going on in that. Alan: And I should say that I had separated from my wife at this time. Suzanne: Right, for two and a half years. So our divorces had absolutely nothing to do with each other. We just sort of incidentally began to work out our relationship was developing on a more formal sense beyond student and professor. And the only reason I took your course is so that I would have the excuse to spend time with you. So, it worked… Alan: Well, as you said you were hunting me. Suzanne: Right, I was. I deliberately went hunting for you. So then I remember there was a time when, it was a particularly tumultuous and intense experience with my soon-to-be ex-husband and I had been really upset and I didn’t want to tell you what was going on. But that I also just felt I needed some sort of positive affirmation. And so I don’t know if you remember, you’ve talked about that time when I came and asked you how you felt about me. Alan: Well, you come in, as I recall you came in and said that your husband had called you a jerk or something like that. And you asked me… Suzanne: Among other expletives. Alan: Right! Did I think you were a jerk and by this particular time I had come to be much more interested in you. But this was, I guess, the first time when we began to be honest with each other about the feelings that we shared for each other and that you were someone special. So, that was I think, the first time we actually opened up honestly with each other to express our shared emotions. And things took off very quickly after that. Suzanne: Right. We did our interviews with each other. You want to talk about your interview? Alan: During the time that I had been separated from my wife I thought long and hard about the future direction of my life and I wanted to avoid trivial kinds of relationships and what I was looking for was someone that I could love and be with the rest of my life. And so the interviews that you refer to was, on my part, an attempt to see whether we had the basis for that kind of relationship that I was looking for. Suzanne: I also wanted to make sure that you were someone that I didn’t have to worry about turning into some sociopath later on in the marriage. So, I think 21 years later we can be pretty sure of that. Alan: And among the things that we discussed was the possibility of having children together. And I made it clear to you that that was something I was interested in doing. So, I guess in retrospect sounds a little clinical, but you have to ask these kinds of basic questions to understand what the situation is that you’re dealing with. So, I’m sitting here looking across the table at my daughter. So that possibility of children, of course, came to pass; we actually have three children. Suzanne: On January 2, 1989 you told me you loved me. And on January 3rd you asked me to marry you. Alan: That’s right. Suzanne: Right. Alan: Well, there was a lot of hard thought that went into the background before I made those statements that I loved you and that I wanted you to marry me. A lot of hard thought, because you know I’d just come out of a marriage that had lasted 30 years and this had to work; this had to be right. I had to get it right this time. So when I said those words I had given it a lot of consideration before I uttered those words. Suzanne: I know. And me as well.