Dorothea, 66, and Dan, 71, met at Johnson C. Smith University in 1985. Dorothea was filling in for a colleague of Dan’s, who was taking a year sabbatical. The couple hesitated to get involved, knowing her days in Charlotte were numbered, but romance ensued. The couple had a commitment ceremony in Montreal in May 1986, and married in Charlotte May 31, 1987. They live in Charlotte and both tell their story.
Limited time: Dorothea, originally from High Point, was a specialist in East Asian history and had spent years in California, Hawaii and China. She accepted the one-year position to be close to family. Dorothea and Dan, who taught political science, bonded over the loss of his beloved cat. Despite wanting to keep personal and professional relationships separate, Dan asked her to dinner.
Academic norm: Dorothea was hired at Appalachian State University when the year was over, and the couple felt lucky that she was only two hours away. Friends of theirs, also in academics, made a marriage work while one was in Hong Kong, the other in Vermont. The Hoffmans lived and worked in two different cities for 25 years, meeting for long weekends, until Dorothea retired in 2012. They now live together for the first time, an adjustment they joke took some getting used to, but renew their wedding vows often.
The secret: Dorothea said an unlimited calling plan and daily communication is key to making long-distance marriages work. Even a quick conversation “keeps you in the loop of what’s going on in each other’s life,” she said, adding one of the perks of marriage is “having someone to share what’s going on inside your head.” Hilary Trenda
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