Last Thanksgiving, TODAY and NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford became engaged to David Williams, who works as a policy director at Harvard. In the months to follow, their engagement led to big plans for a destination wedding in the spring and embarking on a new chapter together.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. As Radford reported on a virus that was much more dangerous than government leaders and healthcare officials initially believed, the pandemic also hit home — Radford’s baby brother and aunt contracted the illness. Just as all of this was unraveling, the virus was already impacting her future. Like so many other engaged couples, Radford and her fiancé’s wedding plans were put on hold.
“Of course, the wedding postponement pales in comparison to the real grief that others were feeling from COVID,” Radford told Know Your Value recently. “So David and I made a collective decision to use this time as an opportunity to slow down, redefine and reimagine,” she said.
When Radford sat down with Know Your Value’s Mika Brzezinski in February, just days before Covid-19 became recognized as a global pandemic, she shared what it was like to be in a long-distance relationship and to find time for one another in the midst of the couple’s very busy, yet fulfilling careers.
The long-distance romance, with Radford in New York and Williams in Boston, was the easy part. For Radford, the more challenging part was actually finding “a David,” someone who understood and supported the demands of her busy career.
“I didn’t even know a David existed,” Radford said. “The person became so important. Someone who understood, this is part of who you are… you belong to me, but you belong to the world too,” she explained. “My gift is for me to serve the world, it’s not just for me to be David’s partner. He’s the most beautiful part of my life, but I’m also a daughter and I’m a sister and I’m a journalist. The gifts God gave me are for me to serve… that’s my calling, and he was someone who understood that serving spirit.”
Today, Radford and Williams are finally living together in the same city for the first time since college. They anticipate the day when they can exchange vows and celebrate their love with their family and friends, but for now they’re simply celebrating each other, their village and the world’s collective resilience as the pandemic continues.
Here’s how the couple swapped their wedding plans for new lifestyle changes that inevitably turned any disappointment into newfound hope and a stronger connection.
Take time to be still
It’s natural to look forward to and anticipate big future milestones, but in a situation like COVID when even hugging loved ones has to wait, Radford encourages couples to take time to “be still.” This means living in the present moment and truly savoring your day-to-day experiences, such as cooking a meal at home together, opening a favorite bottle of wine or playing a board game. With a quieter social calendar, it also involves leaning in to what brought you two together to begin with and knowing that the stronger foundation you’re building right now will make for a stronger future when the pandemic ends. For now, this might mean creating new couple time, like lighting candles and watching “Homeland” together, Radford shared.
Trade big for small
During the pandemic, Radford has traded in grand gestures of celebration for smaller gestures of appreciation and acknowledgement. For example, she and David write letters to one another every week or so. “I take the time to tell David what I like most about him,” Radford said. “I’ve written to him… my favorite thing is how affectionate you are. I always know how you feel about me because you’re consistent in your affection.”
Get creative in how you connect
Along those same lines, get creative about how you connect with your village. Radford’s postponed wedding was overshadowed by an outpouring of love and support by the couple’s family and friends, especially when they hosted a special Zoom meet on their would-be wedding day, complete with a virtual toast.
Radford encourages couples in a similar situation to take the time to write to people who would have been guests to their wedding and connect with them. This experience led her to develop a new and deeper appreciation for the people in their lives. “I have an entirely new respect and love for the people in our village because of the way they respected and loved on us,” Radford said.
Focus on what you can control
With so many factors outside of our control right now, Radford encourages everyone to focus on what they can control, from leaning in to a healthier lifestyle to working harder at their jobs. Collectively, the couple recognizes that they can continue to focus on the fact that they found each other and can now cherish the time they spend together. “I continue to show gratitude – to a God and a Universe that led me to find my person,” Radford said.