Marvin Santiago's vision wasn't the problem, but he wasn't seeing his future when he accompanied his father to the optician's office in 2003.
His father, Mariano Santiago, had been there earlier buying a new pair of glasses, and he had met Krista Douthit.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
He says: “I thought she was very attractive but I didn’t think she would be interested in me.”
She says: “He had spiky hair and he was a typical 20-year-old. I was really caught off guard that his dad really did bring him in there.”
My biggest memory from our wedding day is:
He says: “Exchanging the rings.”
She says: “We were kind of untraditional. He wore his Chuck Taylors and I wore a dress.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
He says: “Communicate. Respect your spouse’s opinion and support your spouse in anything they want to pursue.”
She says: “Open communication is important and so is marrying your friend. We’re very close. We’re very open and honest.”
Krista was born in the Philippines and adopted at 5 weeks old by a Caucasian American couple. She grew up in Faulkner County. The Santiagos are also Filipino; Marvin was born in Little Rock.
"He said, 'Oh, you're a Filipino girl, I'm going to bring my son in because he needs a wife,'" Krista recalls of meeting her future father-in-law. "I'm sure my eyes were bugged out, but I giggled and said OK."
When he returned later that day to pick up his glasses, he indeed had Marvin -- who he had said needed a wife -- with him.
Marvin hadn't realized this was an attempted setup.
"I think my dad probably just told me he needed a ride," he says.
There were no fireworks. Krista says that as she fitted his father's glasses, Marvin sat across from her, silent with his hands shoved in his pockets.
"When I first saw Marvin, I thought, 'Wow, he looks like he belongs in a boy band,'" she says. "He had spiked hair, a blue track jacket, and probably Puma shoes. He just sat down in the chair beside his dad, didn't say a word to me, all slumped in the chair. I could tell his dad probably forced him to come in and he probably thought I was not cute."
The "not cute" part wasn't true.
"I thought she was a very attractive girl, but I never expected that someone like her would be interested in me," Marvin says.
Krista told her friend Linda about the experience later and discovered Linda knew the Santiagos, who owned Asian Food and Gifts.
"Fast forward to October 2006, I was at the State Fair with my friends Jason and Linda," Krista says.
Just after they left the Arkansas State Fairgrounds and drove down Roosevelt Road, Jason's car had a flat tire. Jason needed a tire key to be able to change his tire so he called a friend to help.
"His friend drove up in an Infiniti G 35, which at the time was my dream car. I looked at my friend Linda and said, 'OK, I don't care who gets out of that car. I am going to marry him!'"
She didn't recognize the young man who stepped out, but she asked if she could sit in his car to get out of the cold, dark night air. While she and Linda waited for them to change the tire, Linda informed her that the car's owner was Marvin Santiago, the guy whose father had said he needed a wife.
"I told her no because this guy is cute and I don't remember the other guy being cute," Krista laughs.
Marvin and Krista hadn't realized they had mutual friends -- Linda grew up with Marvin and he and Jason were also longtime friends.
When Jason's tire was fixed they all went downtown for drinks at a pizza place, and Marvin and Krista got to know each other better.
"I laughed a lot because this guy was funny," she says. "He asked for my number and I gave it to him."
Their friend groups started hanging out together more often and gradually Krista and Marvin started doing more things alone, just the two of them.
Their first date was lunch at Iriana's in downtown Little Rock. Krista was worried about getting pizza in her teeth or on her face so she ordered soup, and Marvin teased her about her menu choice.
On Sundays, their friends got together and the guys would play basketball and the girls would talk. On Tuesdays, Krista cooked and everyone came over to eat. She had been accepted to culinary school at the Art Institute of Dallas before she met Marvin, but when they fell in love she decided to stay in Little Rock.
"While we were dating, I couldn't get over the feeling that he was perfect for me. We both had our faults but we just fit together," Krista says. "We didn't have a traditional proposal, it was just very causal. Just us two talking about it and were like -- sure let's do it."
They were married at the Pulaski County Courthouse on March 21, 2009.
Marvin and Krista have two children, Madalynn and Maddox. They live in Little Rock where Marvin works as a user experience developer for Perks Worldwide. Krista is a registered nurse at Baptist Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is pursuing a pediatric nurse practitioner primary care degree.
"I know we were meant for each other," Krista says. "We are the perfect team and completely opposite. He is very organized and punctual, introvert, into hip-hop and boy bands, where I'm not very organized, always late, extrovert, and into old '80s and '90s bands. We can both make each other laugh. Every day I am so thankful God blessed me with a second chance with him, because I am absolutely in love."
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Marvin and Krista Santiago exchanged their wedding vows on March 21, 2009. They were introduced by Marvin’s father, who met Krista when he went to buy new glasses. She initially told his dad she was not interested, but another chance encounter changed things.
Marvin and Krista Santiago will celebrate a decade of marriage next year. Marvin didn’t need glasses but he’s grateful his father did. He’s also glad he’s the one his friend called when he needed help fixing a flat tire.
High Profile on 11/04/2018
Print Headline: Matchmaking fails, but chance encounter fixes it