Friday, November 6, 2009

How I found couples to interview for my relationship story

About the couples I interviewed for my “Show me the love” article: I didn’t know them before I interviewed them.

Surprisingly, my Milwaukee couples were easy to schedule. One of my friends put me in touch with Seng, whom he worked with. And Jill, a childhood friend, suggested I contact Young and Suzelle, who said yes right away. My Facebook post was helpful, but I still needed two more couples that I could interview in person.

In the meantime, I stumbled upon Diane and Todd’s blog, White on Rice Couple. They are food writers, photographers, videographers, and world travelers, so I guessed that they’d be comfortable sharing their story. They agreed to participate right away.

I just needed one more couple. Deanne, a friend from an online writing class, had mentioned Help A Reporter Out. I posted a query and crossed my fingers.

Three women contacted me. Over the next couple of days, one declined because her boyfriend didn’t want to participate; she said he was very private about their personal lives. A second woman had already scheduled a time for the interview but backed out. She and her boyfriend felt that the Asian American community in L.A. is “teeny tiny” and they didn’t want to say anything that could be misconstrued. (It’s hard for me to imagine one tiny Asian American community, but I did empathize that they didn’t want to be misunderstood.)

Thankfully, Lydia was the third HARO person who contacted me. And she and Rohan did a terrific interview.

So I found couples in a range of ethnicities — Laotian, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese. And the couples differed in their ages, the length of their relationships, and whether or not they had children, so they highlighted a variety of experiences.

What these couples did have in common was a respect for their relationship. That’s not surprising, that the people who'd be willing to talk about their relationships were the ones who felt relatively happy and secure. (I wish I could’ve also interviewed those other couples. But that would’ve been a different story.)

Ultimately, I’m glad I interviewed couples I didn’t know. It’s not that they were any more articulate than my friends would have been. It’s that I didn’t have any preconceived idea of what their relationships were. So I had to ask all the questions — how they met, how they decided to get married (or not), what kind of stuff they fought about. It was truly a learn-as-you-go experience.

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