After several dates with Long Thanh, Thu Hang knew he was the one. She vowed to marry him, but he denied her at least 20 times before saying yes.
Thu Hang, 32, from Nha Trang and Long Thanh, 39, from Ho Chi Minh City met by chance in Hanoi. She was on a business trip alone and he was traveling by himself in 2017.
“She’s pretty, in good shape, has great skin and her voice is very attractive”, Thanh recalled.
During their first Hanoi encounter, Hang felt like she was meeting a relative when the Southern gentleman approached and talked to her. The two exchanged phone numbers and went for a few drinks on Ta Hien Street in the Old Quarter.
Thanh works at a university, does a variety of odd information technology (IT) jobs and also invests in the stock exchange. He loves to travel and explore lesser-known places around Vietnam. Hang, whose main joy and passion was her work, was attracted to Thanh because of his extensive knowledge of Vietnamese history and global political issues
“He is not afraid to speak his mind and that definitely attracted me,” Hang said.
The two maintained contact even though they lived across the country. They never let on how much they were falling for each other but were still able to start long-distance dating. Every month, Hang flew to HCMC to meet Thanh and he often went to Nha Trang to meet up with her. When they hung out, Hang noticed that Thanh often generous tips to staff and security guards. He treated everyone with respect and kindness, which was different from his “bad boy” appearance.
Thu Hang and Long Thanh as a married couple in 2020. Photo by Hang Nguyen
Hang sells goods online in Nha Trang, and although her income is good, she has never been supported by her parents or the people around her. People don’t consider it a profession, but Thanh has always respected and encouraged her work. He advised Hang to go to HCMC because there are more opportunities for e-commerce there.
“I love him and I believe that he is a good man, so I promised myself to marry him. When I want to do something, I will get it done at all costs,” Hang said.
Since then, Hang’s resolve to inspire commitment in Thanh grew stronger and stronger. But as she became more proactive and determined, Thanh’s interest seemed to wane.
“I liked her but didn’t plan anything because I was afraid of getting married,” Thanh explained his attitude at that time. He was born in a broken home and lived only with his mother and sister, so he didn’t like the idea of marriage.
On holidays and Lunar New Year (Tet), Hang bought Thanh gifts every year. But he never reciprocal.
At a party in the summer of 2017, Hang cried when she realized all her friends had already gotten married. In tears, she called Thanh to propose to him.
But the perpetual bachelor still refused to relent yet.
“We just got into a relationship and I’m not ready to get married now,” he said.
Thanh said he hadn’t earned enough money to take care of his family.
Hang replied that she had money and if they combined their funds it would be enough. Then Thanh said he didn’t have a career, but Hang immediately countered that it didn’t matter because she did indeed have a stable career.
Thanh went on and said he was afraid that he wouldn’t know how to take care of his children. But Hang said it was a partnership in which she could help and she promised to raise the children side by side with him.
When Thanh said his mother was difficult, Hang said that she would work hard to be able to please her mother.
But after all those assurances, Thanh still refused Hang’s proposal.
Hang’s demeanor then changed and she finally put her foot down. She told her fickle man:
“If you’re in love but don’t want to get married, then what’s the point of being in a relationship?!” Hang said angrily. “Let’s just break up!’ she told him forcefully.
“Have you thought about it carefully?” Thanh asked.
“I’ve thought it through!” she replied.
The next morning, when Hang woke up, she called Thanh on the phone but couldn’t reach him.
He had blocked her number. She frantically sent him a long email but received no reply. She returned to Ho Chi Minh City to find Thanh, but he had changed his address.
“I was abandoned by my father, so I was really scared of that feeling,” Thanh said. “So, when she intiated the breakup, I was deeply hurt.”
At that time, Hang’s business was in trouble. Losing money and love at the same time, she became severely depressed and couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything for three days straight. On the fourth day, she returned to work in the hopes it would help her forget Thanh. After four months, her business became stable again and thoughts of Thanh once more began invading her mind.
She contacted a close friend of Thanh’s and asked that the friend deliver a birthday gift to her former lover. It had been nine months since they’d seen or spoken with or seen each other.
“All my life, there has never been a girl that treated me as kindly and patiently as Hang,” Thanh said.
Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder, and over all this time apart he realized his missed her and that she was truly the woman for him: her love was real, and more importantly, she cared for him deeply and unyieldingly.
Through their mutual friend, the two rekindled their relationship and Thanh showed even more affection to Hang than he ever had in the past.
Hang and Thanh before getting married. Photo by Hang Nguyen
However, when Hang proposed to him again, Thanh still refused.
“I have proposed to him in person about 20 times, not to mention all the times that I texted and called him and asked him to be my husband,” Hang recalled.
On an evening in 2020, after three years of love, Hang happened to read a message from Thanh in which he wished his ex-girlfriend a happy birthday. She was angry and believed that he was unfaithful, so she wanted another breakup.
But sometimes the storms of adversity lead to quiet, calm and peace afterward.
Thanh realized this may be his last chance to prove his love to Hang.
So, he brought her home to meet his mother for the first time and officially accepted her marriage proposal.
“I used to think that even my father abandoned me so how would a stranger ever really stay with me,” Thanh told Hang. “But you changed my perspective.”
In 2021, the couple finally got married and moved to HCMC together. Hang thought she had finally found eternal happiness that would last the rest of her life.
But how quickly her expectations then began to crumble again.
“We are like the moon and the sun,” she said. As an IT worker, Thanh has for a decade worked all night and slept all day until 4 p.m. The habit was impossible to break and it meant the couple had not time to spend with each other as Hang worked a normal job in the day and slept at night.
Knowing this kind of family life would be no way to raise children, Hang decided that she either needed to help her husband change, or ask for a divorce. When their baby was born, Hang suffered from a lack of breast milk so she asked Thanh to take care of the child at night, while she would care for the baby during then day.
Thanh started practicing preparing milk and changing diapers for the baby. There were many nights when the baby cried and Hang wanted to get out of bed and help Thanh, but she turned away and pretended to sleep instead. She wanted to let Thanh take care of the baby by himself to know how hard it was.
“I realized how hard it is to take care of a baby,” Thanh admitted. “Hang my wife had the burden of having the birth and taking care of the child both.”
At night, when he saw his daughter sleeping soundly and she looked exactly like him, Thanh felt happy and sacred.
Instead of staying up at night and sleeping during the day, Thanh changed his routine to fit his wife and child. He also bought her favorite food and gifts regularly. Thanh understands that his wife was a workaholic and didn’t have much time to take care of their daughter, so he decided to quit his job to do everything in the house from cooking and cleaning to babysitting.
“From a careless husband, now all I want to do is make my wife happy,” Thanh said. Suddenly, his instinct of being a husband and father woke up.
Thanh and his 20-month-old daughter. Photo by Hang Nguyen
The couple then opened a joint business, a spa shop, and also maintained their business selling goods online. According to Thanh, Hang is the CEO and she manages everything, while his job is focusing on taking care of their daughter and working as a shipper for the shop’s orders when he has time.
But even after these incredible successes, there was one more last obstacle.
Hang’s mother Huynh Thi Thu Thuy, 62, said that the day she brought Thanh home the first time, her family didn’t like him because they saw his dyed hair and felt like he didn’t speak to them in a serious and respectful way.
After a year of living with Hang in Ho Chi Minh City, Thuy found that although Thanh might seem childish on the outside at first, he really loves his wife and daughter very deeply and was willing to sacrifice his career for his family.
Thanh regretted being heartless to his wife in the past, so now he always wants to make up for the lost time with her. He realized that growing up in a broken family doesn’t mean that he has to follow in the footsteps of his parents. On the contrary, Thanh now knows that his duty is to break that chain and build a happy home for his children, his wife, and also, importantly, for himself.
The lesson of this long story is that Thanh doesn’t have to repeat the mistakes of his family’s past, nor does he have to repeat his own mistakes. He can change, and in changing himself he has found the key to a fulfilling life for himself and his family.
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