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After Waiting Almost Half a Lifetime, This Couple Proves That True Love Is Worth the WaitShe grew up in San Juan, while he's from Louisiana. Fate, faith, love, and patience.by Kat Patiño-Marquez .
It’s often depicted in movies and TV shows we love to watch – the almost palpable pressure for singles, especially single women, to get married when they’ve reached their prime. When you’re a Filipino at this stage in life, you’ll get questions like “kailan ka ikakasal?” It’s also a given for titas and titos to remind you about your ticking biological clock. Once you’re in your 30s and you haven’t settled down, jokes about being an “old maid” can be common, too.
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Mia Estolano-Levert wasn’t exempted from such pressures. She grew up in a typical Filipino household where the man was the breadwinner, and the woman stayed at home. “My dad always said to look for a man who would take care of you, and my mom always said always to learn how to take care of your husband and kids in the future,” she shares.
At a young age, Mia’s parents already trained her and her siblings to take care of themselves and their home by asking them to work on household chores, washing their own clothes and cooking their own food. You could say that, in traditional standards, Mia was fit to be a wife and a mother. Back then, she was sure she’d head down that path.
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“I had a timeline!” Mia admits laughing. “Basta, I said to myself that at 28, I need to be successful or at least earn a lot…to be financially independent. Then, get married at 28.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Mia’s "plans" were waylaid, however, when she lost her dad while she was still in college. She concentrated on her career to helping the family.
A boy who learned how to be a providerADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Mike Levert, who grew up on the opposite side of the world in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the United States, had similar plans as Mia. After graduating with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Math from Louisiana State University, he imagined he’d have a family one day.
“I just imagined a normal family with kids [where] the wife takes care of everyone then the husband comes home doing nothing,” he jokes. “Just typical family stuff: husband taking care of his wife. [She] will have the option whether she wants to work or not.”
Despite making efforts to find that special someone, nothing stuck. So, he concentrated on work, hoping someone would come along eventually.
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By the time Mia was in her 30s, she had achieved most of her career plans and was financially independent enough to travel. “It was a repetitive cycle of work and then travel. One of my birthday traditions is to do something I’ve never done before or go to a place I’ve never been,” Mia shares. Some of these places include Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Greece, Spain, France, and Italy.
Mia had a life most can only dream of, but a part of her “childhood plan” still hadn’t materialized. Despite meeting people and going on dates, she had not found the One.
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Friends shared their concern she was on her way to becoming an old maid, and some even encouraged her to “get pregnant na lang,” so she wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be a mother. But Mia knew it wasn’t for her.
As years went on, though, she started questioning her life path. “I was doing very good with work, like, really good. But I was not happy and couldn’t understand why,” she admits. She recalled wanting a quiet, domesticated life where she would care for a farm — far from the life she was living then.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
So Mia made a life-changing decision — she resigned from her work, joined a meditation and reiki healing program, and then traveled to the U.S. to volunteer at farms to learn about organic farming.
It was during a 10-day trip for a Vipassana meditation program where she realized she hadn’t wholly grieved the death of her father. Mia realized she was holding on to emotions she wasn’t allowed to feel when she was younger, which clouded her priorities, values, and views in life.
“I just needed a very long vacation to figure out what makes me happy and just to be away from everyone so nobody could influence me in any of my decisions,” she shares. It was during this time that Mia converted from being a Roman Catholic to an Evangelical Christian.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
With a new purpose in life, Mia was satisfied she had made the right decision. She was happily volunteering at a farm in Arizona when Mike came into her life. They connected on eharmony, an online dating site for like-minded singles, and started exchanging emails and calling one another. It was only when Mia traveled to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras parade that they met face to face. Mike already knew that he had unexpectedly met up with the woman who would eventually be his wife admitting, “I knew pretty quickly on the first date.”
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Love is worth the waitADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
It was their similar values in life that initially attracted them to one another. Mia recalled always being at ease with Mike even when they started talking about their pasts, hurts, and values. “I felt secure and honest with him,” she shares.
During the first few months of dating, the couple invested time to get to know each other. Mike would drive a total of 81 miles back and forth almost every day to visit Mia, and in turn, Mia stayed an extra month in the U.S. to be with him.
After two to three months of dating in the U.S. that included a week-long trip to Hawaii, Mia had to fly back to the Philippines. Thanks to technology, they made the relationship work despite the distance. “The way we handled the distance most people would have given up. We just have good chemistry, and we get along. We laughed a lot,” Mike admits.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
But being separated took its toll especially when they both waited almost half a lifetime to find each other. They got married in 2017, and the two now reside in Prairieville, Lousiana.
“We like to watch movies and some TV shows, and going to art festivals,” Mike shares. Mia adds, “We both love to eat…we like to go to estate sales and spending time at the beach. Mike has been the number one champion of my passions — cooking and art.”
While adjusting to slow living, Mia started a blog, Be With Mia, where she shares and chronicles their lives as well as the recipes she prepares for herself and Mike.
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Mike, who is now in his 50s, and Mia, who is in her 40s, are now planning their future, which includes flying to the Philippines, so Mike can meet Mia’s family and prepare a formal church wedding.
As for having kids, Mia shares, “if it is according to God’s plan, we would love to have kids. If not, I am sure He will still bless us with happy lives.”
Despite this uncertainty, the two are both in agreement that they couldn’t have met earlier, admitting they both needed to be wiser, smarter, more mature, financially capable, and happier with themselves to be ready for each other.
When asked if they would change anything if they could, Mia shares, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I like the way God let us meet at the perfect time, he refined and prepared us to have this beautiful union.”
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