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On Love

Weddings: Deborah Fleischaker and Aram Schvey

After three years of being in a committed relationship, Deborah Fleischaker was ready to take the next step with her then-boyfriend (and commitment-phobe) Aram Schvey. When a life-threatening medical diagnosis hit the couple, however, Schvey would prove he was in it for the long haul.

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By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 11, 2010

By the time they hit the three-year mark, Deborah Fleischaker was frustrated.

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She and Aram Schvey had been dating since 2006. They'd lived together for a year and were in their mid-30s. Plus, they were happy -- laughing and traveling and carrying on with the kind of banter that Woody Allen would write.

"I knew our relationship was fantastic," Fleischaker says. She was ready to move toward marriage. The problem: "Aram is definitely a commitment-phobe."

It hadn't seemed that way at first. The two public interest lawyers met on JDate and arranged a weeknight date at Zaytinya in the summer of '06. She got his jokes and was brave enough to try a briny fish roe delicacy, and he left knowing he wanted to see her again. There was a follow-up e-mail waiting for her when Fleischaker got to her desk the next morning.

They'd gone out a few more times by the time Fleischaker left on a business trip to Hawaii. Schvey sent her off with a box full of envelopes and instructions to open one every other day. Each contained a note and some memento revealing an insight about himself.

"I remember my friends teasing me like, 'Oooohh, he's falling in love with you,' " she says.

And he probably was: "In my relationships, they tend to ramp up pretty quickly," he says. "I guess I'm an intense person, or I'm attracted to people who are also intense."

There was never any ambiguity or game-playing. Schvey did "all the things you always hope someone is going to do," Fleischaker says. They met each other's families, fell into an easy relationship and within six months she felt certain it was headed toward marriage.

But Schvey is slower in his decision-making, especially when it comes to topics associated with words like "forever." "I was really happy with the relationship that we had," he says. But he had lingering questions about how anyone really knows when it's right.

Even after he'd bought the ring, it stayed in a bathroom drawer. Every couple of months, Fleischaker would broach the topic and Schvey would say something like, "Ehhhhhh, I'm this much closer," she recalls.

On Oct. 2, 2009, as they drove out to a family weekend house in Cambridge, Md., for her grandmother's 90th birthday party, Fleischaker was feeling particularly touchy. "I just didn't want to be questioned: 'When are you getting married? Why aren't you married yet?' "

She didn't know that eight hours earlier, Schvey, now 35, had woken up and decided he was ready. He stopped thinking about "forever" and reminded himself that Fleischaker was the woman he wanted to be with that day and the day after. He pulled the car over in front of a field, picked a bunch of wildflowers, gave her the ring in a trick box (that he eventually showed her how to open) and played a slideshow on his laptop that he'd prepared months before.


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