Erica (Davis) Popely and Ben Popely have been married for ten years. Now both 41, they are just as smitten as they were when they first met 13 years ago.
Erica and Ben met at a dance in January of 2007 that was led by a nonprofit called Vocational Visions, which offers social, career, and learning opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. Erica has Down syndrome and Ben has autism.
That night, they chatted and got to know each other, and even had their first kiss.
“It seemed like it was love at first sight,” Ben told The Orange County Register.
When Erica came home and told her mom, Kathy Davis, that she had a boyfriend, Kathy wasn’t sure if the boyfriend was real or made-up at first.
“She has a big imagination,” Kathy told The Orange County Register. “My daughter often says, ‘Oh, I’m going over to Hawaii tonight,’ and when she gets up in the morning she’ll describe being there.”
She asked for more details about Erica’s boyfriend but didn’t get a lot more information about who he was.
“Erica would come home and say, ‘Mom, I have a boyfriend! We held hands!’” she said. “She’s always had a good imagination, so I wasn’t sure he existed. I asked what his name was, and she said, ‘I don’t know.’”
The two young lovebirds saw each other a couple of times a week through the Vocational Visions program, where they would cuddle up together. Then, a few months into the relationship, Ben met Kathy for the first time and asked if he could take Erica on a real date. Kathy was cautious, and wanted to get to know him better first. Then a couple weeks later, he and Erica went on a date.
Erica had always talked about getting married someday to the perfect guy — and that guy turned out to be Ben.
“I love him like the whole world,” Erica said.
Ben proposed to Erica two years after they met. He popped the question at yet another dance they attended together, getting down on one knee and asking her to marry him with a microphone in hand, so the entire room could hear.
Erica responded with an ecstatic, “Oh yeah, baby!”
They got married in 2010 and took their honeymoon at Disneyland.
“He’s a good husband,” Erica said. “He’s so lovable, and hot and sexy. I love him.”
“We have a good friendship and she’s beautiful,” Ben said.
Erica and Ben live in the same house as Erica’s parents, Kathy and Larry. They have their own private two-room suite upstairs with a living room and a bedroom. Neither of them are able to drive and they can’t live on their own together, but they both have jobs. They decided before they got married that they didn’t want to have children.
“It wasn’t practical to have children,” Ben said. “We wanted to work on being in love, on taking care of each other.”
Their personalities complement each other wonderfully, according to Kathy. While Ben is laidback and goes with the flow, Erica likes to follow a schedule.
According to Ben, the reason their marriage has worked so well for ten years is pretty straightforward.
“We listen to each other,” he said, “and I love her just how she is.”
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.