In June 1993, Roger and Terri Richter of Orient got married for the first time. Except, not to each other.
Roger, 56, was living in Omaha, Neb., when his wife suddenly died of a heart attack in 2005. One year later, Terri, 49, also living in Omaha, Neb., unexpectedly lost her husband to a brain aneurysm.
As time passed, their friends encouraged them to move forward with meeting a new companion.
“My friends encouraged me to set up a profile on eHarmony,” said Terri. “They heard about it and wanted me to meet someone.”
Perhaps Terri’s friends were on to something.
A 2013 study published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the status and satisfaction of 19,131 people who tied the knot between 2005 and 2012.
The results of the study indicate more than one-third of marriages in America begin online. Additionally, couples who met online were found less likely to separate or divorce than couples who met through traditional channels such as friends, family or work. According to the study, couples who met online also reported to be more satisfied with their spouse than those who did not meet their spouse online.
Roger and Terri, who began their search for a companion online in 2008, started by filling out questionnaires on eHarmony, which collected information such as personal preferences, physical characteristics and personality traits.
When eHarmony indicated Terri was compatible with Roger, he decided to contact her.
“I was a little hesitant about him at first,” said Terri.
However, after learning Roger was a widower, she felt he would be able to understand her.
The Richters began dating in September 2008.
Terri recalled their first date — dinner, a live band and long conversation on the restaurant’s outdoor patio in Omaha.
“While we were sitting outside, he said, ‘I’m going to marry you someday,” said Terri.
A few hours after dropping her off, Terri said Roger sent her a message at 4:30 a.m. asking if she was awake. Sleepless, she invited him over for coffee which turned into lunch.
“We talked so much I felt like I already knew him,” said Terri.
Four months later — Christmas Eve — Roger proposed.
The Richters, who moved to Orient in 2011, will celebrate their 5 year anniversary in April. Until then, they will celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Doubletree Hotel in Omaha, where they were married.
“We just have so much in common,” said Terri. “There are days when it’s a hard day ... memories ... but with him we can talk about it without hurting the other.”
Feeling discouraged, Joe Anson, 49, of Creston said he logged onto his Plenty of Fish account one night to delete his online dating profile after a bad date in 2009.
Prior to that, Joe said he met a woman from the website to play a round of mini-golf. However, when she arrived, she did not look like the photo she presented to him online.
“That was the fastest round of mini-golf I’ve ever played,’ Joe chuckled. “I thought, ‘I’m done with this.’”
However, as Joe went to delete his profile, another profile titled “Steelers Girl” caught his attention.
“I’m a big Steelers fan and I thought, ‘she can’t be all that bad,’” said Joe. “So, I clicked on her (profile) and we started talking.”
On the other end of the conversation was Tina Anson, 46, of Creston.
Tina, who has raised her now 15-year-old daughter Erin since birth on her own, finally took the plunge into the world of online dating at the nudging of her co-workers. She said she never thought she would meet anyone online. Ever.
“I wasn’t brave enough,” she said.
After joining, Tina’s opinion of online dating changed.
“I met some creeps and I met some okay people, but, I never talked to any of them like him (Joe).”
Tina said, when a concerned friend found out about Joe, her friend contacted him and asked for all of his personal information to investigate him a little further.
“The only thing she didn’t ask for was my social security number. I would have given it to her,” said Joe.
“He would have done that,” said Tina. “And, that’s what made me feel so comfortable with him. He didn’t have anything to hide.”
After a month of talking online, Joe, who lived in Johnston at the time, asked Tina out. For their first date, the pair met in person at Lakeside Casino in Osceola. After their first in-person encounter, they talked the night away on the phone and met up the next day in Des Moines.
Tina and Joe said they immediately connected over their love of football and the fact they were both single parents.
In 2009, when Joe and Tina began communicating online, Joe, too, was a single parent to three boys - Logan, Tyler and Dylan - now 8, 11 and 13 years old.
“It was just me and the boys for quite awhile,” said Joe. “It wasn’t like any of us had just come out of a relationship.”
“Mine walked away and his walked away,” said Tina.
However, it wouldn’t be long after meeting before Tina and Joe made their commitment to one another official. During a Christmas gathering in 2009, Joe proposed to Tina in front of his family. On October 9, 2010, they married.
For their first year of marriage, Joe commuted to Creston every weekend to see Tina. He wanted his children to finish out the school year before they relocated to Creston. Joe and his children moved to Creston in 2011.
Tina’s first impression of Joe was that he was a gentleman. On their first date, Joe presented Tina with a faux rose made of red feathers.
“He used to send me flowers two, sometimes three, times a week,” said Tina. “He was such a romantic. He still is.”