There was an instant connection, but like most good things in life, it took time. Martha, (Founder and President of Life Elements) and Curt, (Co-Founder of Life Elements), share the story of how they met and married.
Spoiler alert: This interview contains hilarious and heart-warming content.
Curt: “Martha had a software company that outsourced IT stuff, and she had met a guy that I worked with, and he said: “You gotta talk to Curt.” So, we met in San Diego, and we had coffee—”
Martha: (Interjects) “He’s so wrong!
I went to this happy-hour-kind-of-mixer for technology. I was looking for companies that wanted to outsource their IT work, so I asked someone I met at the mixer. He said, ‘Yeah, call this guy,’ and the ‘guy’ was Curt Van-something-something. I couldn’t even pronounce his last name.
I called, and he answered, and there was an immediate connection. Just as soon as I heard his voice, there was just something that I found—not alluring—but a ‘welcome home’ kind of feeling. We talked on the phone, and as soon as I got off the phone with him, I went to the internet to find out as much as I could about this guy, and he did the same thing. (Even though Google really wasn’t a big thing back then.
One of the first things I found was a blog he had been writing, and I saw a post about his wife and daughter. I was living with my boyfriend who was also my business partner. So I thought, ‘no biggie.’
But, yes, they were looking for work. So we went and met with Curt and his crew. Curt was the last one to arrive at the meeting. I had my nice brown suit on, and here he comes, strolling in, and I did not find him attractive! Although he did have a great outfit on.”
Curt: (Interjects) “Now she gives me crap for my shirt matching my pants like the old “Girranimals” kids line.”
Martha: (Continues) “After that, we had an immediate friendship. Something from the moment we spoke on the phone, something about being home and being comfortable. It was easy being with him. I followed up after our meeting to have coffee with him just because I liked him, so we started meeting for coffee once in a while. I would stop into his office and just say ‘hey.’ We never even ended up working together. We just liked each other.”
Curt: “We’d have coffee at this place, right next to Surf Dog Records in Encinitas. It was founded by Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats. After a few months, we lost track of each other for whatever reason. About a year or so later, I was looking at one of the San Diego magazines, and I saw a pic of Martha at some society shindig, hootin’ it up at a mixer! Coincidentally, I’d also found her business card in my desk that same day.”
We hadn’t talked in over a year. By that time I was unengaged, and she was unengaged, so we started dating. But she didn’t really like me.”
Martha: “No, we were not dating! We were still just hanging out. Until one day, he called and said, ‘Hey, I’m taking my daughter to the zoo,’ and I couldn’t go. And I started getting these butterflies, and that scared me.”
Curt: “She was scared of commitment.”
Martha: “And from there, it was a love that just grew. It wasn’t head-over-heels, it wasn’t love at first sight. It just grew, and it kept getting better and better.”
Curt: “After a year and a half or so—”
Martha: “It was two years!”
Curt: “After two years, Martha asked me what my intentions were and I made the mistake of saying, ‘What’s the rush?’ and she stomped out of the apartment and threw her keys at me and said, ‘You have until Q4 to make up your f#cking mind!’ (This was May.)
I made the mistake of getting on my knees right there, and she said, ‘Don’t you dare!’
Throughout summer and fall, we would go on these hikes, and she thought every time, I was going to propose to her at the top of the climb...but that never happened. And she was disappointed.
Then, during a long Thanksgiving weekend in Palm Springs with a lot of other things going on I had a ring and was ready to propose. She was in a bad mood because there were family issues going on and every time I tried to propose something came up.
After two days of trying to propose to her, we drove two hours back home in silence, back to her house, and I asked if she wanted to take a walk and she said ‘no,’ so I went on my own. I was trying to figure out what I was doing with this ring in my pocket.
When I got back, she had taken a shower. We were both in our sweats. She had made a simple taco-kinda-meal, and she started apologizing for being rude—”
Martha: “And how could he ever possibly love me? I decided at that moment when he had gone for a walk that he was obviously the most patient man in the world. And he was obviously one of the best men I had ever met. And it did not matter if he married me or not. The fact that he was in my life was enough. But when he came back and sat down for dinner, he proposed with the ring!”
Curt: “I proposed to her at what’s now our dining room table. It wasn’t fancy, we didn’t have a mariachi band waiting in the wings; it was a really simple meal in our simple kitchen. Those meals are special times for us—sitting down at the table, sharing a meal, and recapping our day. That’s who we are.”