Couple: Chandler and Benjamin Rennison
Met at: Recovery Room
Years together: Eight
The dive bar love story of Chandler and Benjamin Rennison has it all — initial sparks at the undeniably romantic Recovery Room, a first kiss by the dumpster of the old Vickery's downtown, countless Coors Lights. But the kicker is that time Chandler knocked her future husband's front tooth out — while kissing. Hot, right? And it was only the second or third time they'd ever made out.
To be fair, Ben's teeth were fragile from a recent skateboarding accident. Regardless, the couple was undeterred. "But then he just takes the tooth, sits it down on the table, and continues to make out with me," recalls Chandler, a psychologist at Laing Middle School of Science and Technology. "To me it didn't matter — he only had one tooth, but I was so smitten at that point in time."
That was in June of 2009 — not long after Ben, an Englishman who'd been living in the States for about a year, met Chandler, who had her sights set on moving to Washington D.C. for grad school in six months. She'd even been there for interviews, going as far as assuring a friend in the capital, "I'm not gonna marry this guy. We're just dating."
That move never happened, of course. Instead of switching cities, Chandler stayed busy falling in love night after night in the smoking section behind Rec Room. "We've had some pretty messy nights here," says Ben, who's currently an engineer at Boeing. "We've been almost on our knees some nights devoting love to each other outside. People would walk by like, 'Will you two shut the fuck up?'"
From the get-go, part of their connection lay in a place in Cornwall, England that the two had in common. "My spirit animal is a town called Falmouth," Ben says. Chandler had spent two weeks there at the same time as Ben years before. "She showed me photos and I saw friends of mine in the photographs who she was sat with having a fire on the beach. I said, 'No way — I lived with that guy!' So we had that in common immediately. And she could do a good English accent."
The couple remained bound by everything from their love of bikes and beers to art and poetry, their adoration for one another manifesting in handwritten letters throughout the course of their relationship. This communication, something Ben and "Chan" excel at, was both sweet as well as useful when it came time to prove their devotion to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2012, when the two were married. Even Ben's proposal, for example, which happened on Sullivan's Island, where Chandler grew up, transpired via letters.
On Nov. 11, 2011, the two prepared messages on why they loved each other, placed them in a bottle, and tossed it into the sea. For most, such a gesture — paired with a sunset, dolphins aplenty, and a picnic — would indicate a proposal may (definitely) be in the works. But for Chandler? Nope. "We do things like that with each other all the time," she says.
You'd be hard-pressed to find another couple who's still so enamored with one another eight years and two kids — Millicent is five months old; Evelyn is two — later. So what's their secret? Besides being flexible and forgiving, and having a sense of humor about life, it boils down to the same thing that brought them together. No, not the sticky floors and sweet allure of Rec Room or the intoxication of cheap beers — but rather the constant desire to talk all night, years after first drunkenly getting to know each other. Chandler says that as time goes on, there's a lot to learn of each other still.
"We communicate to the point that it's exhausting sometimes. Sometimes it's just beautiful," she says. "You and your spouse are consistently growing and changing. Your partner doesn't always do it at the same time as you, so you have to continue to communicate during that period of time."