A Bond Built on Family, Faith, Hard Work and Sushi

Soon after he began dating Rexanah Wyse, Eric Morrissette began receiving text messages that he found suspicious.

The messages would arrive early in the morning, around 4 or 5 a.m. They were from Ms. Wyse. Her texts would always convey some kind of positive message, something like, “Good morning, today’s a great day for a great day, you’re a wonderful person, you’re a champion, you’re going to help so many people today — we love to see it.”

To Ms. Wyse, these texts were instinctual, a way to give Mr. Morrissette a boost. “I wanted the first thing he would see to be a positive text message to start his day,” she said, “and to remind him of how wonderful and great he is as a human being on this planet.”

But to Mr. Morrissette, Ms. Wyse’s zeal was, at first, a little jarring.

“I’m a kid from Brooklyn,” he said, “so this level of positivity, it felt like, ‘Is this person trying to shake me down?’”

Ms. Wyse and Mr. Morrissette had started dating in January 2018. They met through the dating app OkCupid, and had their first date at a chic sushi restaurant in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington. They made an impression on each other quickly.

“You’re beautiful and you’re thoughtful and you’re smart,” Mr. Morrissette remembered thinking, “but you’re also so focused on your family.”

The two discovered that they share some core similarities. Their faith is one, their families’ immigrant roots, another.

“I’m a daughter of immigrants and Eric is a child of an immigrant,” Ms. Wyse said. “It provided comfort,” she added, “knowing that there is this shared tapestry of commonality that we have between each other.”

About two months into their relationship, Ms. Wyse experienced a difficult loss. Her paternal grandmother died. Ms. Wyse wasn’t sure that she could sustain a budding romance.

“I remember kind of pushing him away,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Eric I’ve got a lot going on, it’s cool, you can do your own thing.’ He’s like, ‘no, I’m here. I like you, I’m here.’”

The relationship could have struggled during this period. Instead, it deepened.

“I found myself focused on a person beyond my job that I cared about in a way that I hadn’t really before,” Mr. Morrissette said.

Both Ms. Wyse and Mr. Morrissette knew going into the relationship that they were looking for something long term. Sometime during the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, that solidified.

“We’re getting married or we’re breaking up,” Ms. Wyse remembered saying, “there’s no in between.”

Mr. Morrissette proposed in December 2020 in his College Park, Md., home, where he had created something of an exhibition about their relationship — the walls were lined with photographs of their time together. He brought sushi from the restaurant where they had their first date.

Ms. Wyse, 33, the chief of staff of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Mr. Morrissette, 34, the director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Department of Commerce, were married Aug. 21 at the Mansion at Strathmore, an events space in Rockville, Md. The marriage was officiated by Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat from Missouri, who is a Methodist pastor, in front of about four dozen guests.

Ms. Wyse and Mr. Morrissette now live together in College Park, so there’s no need for her morning texts anymore. But if she were to, she’d find that Mr. Morrissette has rethought his initial suspicion about them.

“They changed my perspective entering the day,” he said. “No one had ever done anything like that for me.”