Somewhere between the politics page and last night’s sports scores exists the commitments section of every newspaper. Inspired by compelling stories of love, we are reminded time and time again of the joy and meaningful connections that are found in relationships—something we deeply crave as human beings.

A recent New York Times article documents the love story of Alison Berkley and Ryan Margo, two spunky singles living in Aspen, Colorado whose unplanned encounter lead to “happily ever after.”

After years of recklessly dating all the wrong ones, Alison, a 41-year-old newspaper columnist and yoga instructor, and Ryan, a 38-year-old maintenance man at a residential complex, had both nearly given up on love.

That all changed on New Years Eve 2008, however. After a day on the slopes, Alison stopped by a bar with a friend where she unexpectedly met Ryan. Within minutes, sparks were flying and within months, they were in love.

The success of Ryan and Alison’s relationship stemmed from complementary personalities, honesty and straightforwardness, acceptance, admiration, shared experiences and empathy—all aspect that make dating for marriage successful.

  • Personality match. Ryan and Alison hit it off right away. They both love to talk and can fill a room with laughter. To this day, they still playfully argue over who gets to talk next. The combination of their dynamic personalities is what created such a strong bond from the very beginning.
  • Honesty and straightforwardness. One of the things Alison said she loved about Ryan from the start is that there was no mystery. He didn’t leave her hanging the next day and there were never any mind games. They were honest with each other about their intentions and never left the other guessing. It was their transparency and willingness to engage in meaningful conversation that created an honest, open relationship.
  • Acceptance. Aspen is a competitive town, but that doesn’t mean those who live there should be competitive in their relationships, too. Ryan and Alison are very accepting of one another. Alison doesn’t feel the need to diet obsessively because Ryan accepts her as she is. In the same way, she accepts his more humble lifestyle.
  • Admiration. Ryan is a handyman, and Alison admires his ability to fix things and enjoy life. More importantly, they both admire the sincere, kind-hearted nature of the other.
  • Shared experiences and empathy. Before meeting, Ryan and Alison both endured more heartbreak than anyone should ever have to. Previously married, Ryan was healing from the divorce of his first wife. Alison, a magnet for disastrous relationships, was healing from a long history of breakups. It was through these experiences, however, that they could truly identify with and understand one another.

Finding “the One” doesn’t always come easily. After years of time spent on all the wrong people, Ryan and Alison subconsciously understood that having a meaningful relationship meant sharing these common values. And because they shared them, they made each other better in every way.