Her Persistence Paid Off – The New York Times

Four years ago, Barbara Delgado received a text message from Giovanni Rivera asking who she was.

“I was partying like a crazy person and had so many numbers I didn’t know who she was,” said Mr. Rivera, 40, who at the time was separated from his first wife and enjoying the bachelor life. “I met a lot of people because I didn’t want to be alone.”

“I didn’t remember meeting him either,” Ms. Delgado, 33, added.

In the days after, the two talked on the phone several times before agreeing to meet the following week. “I told her my philosophy of life and discovered she was a great listener,” Mr. Rivera said.

Months before they began talking, Mr. Rivera in February 2017 was suspended without pay from his position as a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer, leaving him with more time on his hands. (He is appealing the decision.)

Mr. Rivera, who is Italian and Puerto Rican, grew up in the Bronx and received an associate degree in labor studies from SUNY Empire State College. He has an 8-year-old daughter, Bella; he and his ex-wife share custody.

Ms. Delgado, who was born in Mexico City and raised in Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration. She is the owner of the Hair After NYC, a hair and makeup business based in New York.

On July 5, 2017, the day of their first date for drinks at Carroll Place, an Italian restaurant and bar in Greenwich Village, Mr. Rivera arrived an hour early. Ms. Delgado, coming from work, arrived an hour late, just as he was preparing to leave.

“Barbara was apologetic about being late,” Mr. Rivera said. “I thought she was stunning, unpretentious and real. She asked about Bella and didn’t talk about herself. We gabbed until 3 a.m.”

Ms. Delgado said she liked his outgoing personality and smart humor. “He was family oriented and a great conversationalist.”

She was not willing to call it quits, however. “I quickly called him back because I thought he was honest, from a similar culture, and had a big heart,” Ms. Delgado said. “He encouraged my career, and I trusted him. I wanted to give it a chance.”

Her persistence paid off. In 2018, they moved into an Upper East Side apartment together, where the couple was forced to confront Mr. Rivera’s anxiety about not working and his frustrations about needing to borrow from his savings.

“My anxiety was high and I drank to feel normal, but after two years of Barbara’s love and waking up happy each morning, I tapered off,” he said. “She has supported me every single day.”

Ms. Delgado added, “Even though we had some rough patches with his anger over the job situation, I am an optimistic person, and he treats me with love, like a best friend. Things are better now.”

In December 2020, the couple moved to Edgewater, N.J. They spent a great deal of time with Bella, taking her to area malls, street fairs, trampoline parks and on trips to Lake George. “Barbara has helped me gain the love of my daughter who barely saw me during my marriage because I worked such long hours,” Mr. Rivera said.

On Feb. 15, while Ms. Delgado was unpacking groceries in the kitchen, he proposed with a topaz ring. “I cried while saying yes,” she said.

They were married Oct. 19, on Miami Beach behind the Shelborne South Beach hotel, because Ms. Delgado had dreamed of an oceanfront ceremony in Florida. To honor their different cultures, the service was translated in English, Spanish and Italian by the officiant, Frank Nunez, who is ordained as both a Catholic and Universal Life minister. Face masks and hand sanitizer were provided to their 39 guests.

A 1950s Cuban themed outdoor reception featured cigar rollers and, as décor, a rented 1959 Ford Thunderbird painted pink.

“Givoanni’s struggles have been difficult, but have made our resolve unbreakable,” Ms. Delgado said. “Throughout all of that hardship our love grew stronger. We can face whatever challenges come our way.”