Frances and Peter Wilps of Broad Channel were selected as the winners of The Queens Courier Valentine’s Day Couples Contest:
In traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom often promise to love each other “in good times and in bad,” but for one Queens couple, it would have been more appropriate to say “in good weather and in bad.”
Natural disasters, however, were the last thing on Frances and Peter Wilps’ minds when they were matched on the dating website eHarmony.
Both were previously married with children, and for the first time decided to go online to find love.
Frances said she didn’t have high hopes of meeting someone, but thought, “what do I have to lose? Let me give it a whirl.”
Her first few dates were “a disaster,” but her first date with Peter was the opposite.
“Everything he said [on his online dating profile] seemed so sincere,” said Frances.
But that magical first meeting almost didn’t happen because Peter lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey and Frances resided in Broad Channel, a distance of one to two hours, depending on traffic.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to go through with this. It’s a big waste of time, the commute seeing each other,’” said Frances.
Still, Peter was persistent and called her for a date, agreeing to meet her at Frenasia, an Asian restaurant on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.
“[Frenasia] has kind of become our home. It’s our every Friday night thing,” said Frances.
About five months later, in August 2007, Frenasia was where Peter proposed.
It was also where the couple went to have a private moment following their wedding.
“We walked in there as husband and wife, and we sat down and someone sent us a bottle of champagne and we ate a little something,” said Frances.
Following the wedding, Peter moved to Frances’ home in Broad Channel, and the adjustment was easy. Like his wife, Peter grew up in Queens.
The real test of their marriage came a few years later when Irene hit New York City in August, 2011, followed by Sandy only 14 months later.
Their house sustained some water damage from Irene, but Sandy destroyed the Wilps’ entire first floor.
“We knew we would get water, but we never thought the magnitude of it would be what it was”, said Frances.
Though many personal items were lost, fortunately their wedding photos and other keepsakes were fine.
“On the mantle I had a bunch of pictures and my husband said take them off, bring them upstairs and I was questioning him, she said. “Thank God I listened.”
A few months later, they are slowly fixing their first floor, but there is still no heat, appliances or furniture in downstairs.
“You learn what you take for granted, that’s for sure,” said Frances.
For now, they are living in a bedroom and are dealing with the financial burden and rebuilding what they lost in the storm.
Sandy “has been very trying,” on their relationship, said Frances.
“We are on top of each other 24/7 and it’s tough, the stress of no money and the house is a mess,” she continued.
But along with adding stress, the disaster has also strengthened their marriage.
“The support from one another has been fabulous,” He’s just wonderful. When I need him, he’s always strong. And I’m there for him when he has his moments and he’s upset and he’s worried,” she said. “We’re each other’s backbone.”
As winners of The Courier’s contest the Wilps will receive a “King & Queens for a Day” spa package from Christie & Co. Salon * Spa in The Bay Terrace.
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