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Valentine Love Stories

'Pay Attention to the Other Person's Needs'

The love story of Lin Su, 43, and Hannsen Su, 47, began in their native Taiwan. They've now been married 22 years and live in Centreville's Manorgate community — but he had to pursue her quite a bit before she said yes.

They both attended National Central University in Taiwan; she was a freshman when he was a senior, but they didn't know each other. Then in 1978, he went to the U.S. to get his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Ohio State.

"While there, he was ready for marriage, so he came back to Taiwan to find a wife," said Lin. "A relative of his tried to match us up, but I'd just graduated from college, I was 21 and I wasn't interested in going to a foreign country."

But, she said, Hannsen was persistent. "Before he met me, he'd been introduced to 20 other girls, but he wasn't interested in them," she said. "Finally, he said to me, 'I don't have much time to stay in Taiwan — why aren't you cooperating?'"

His approach took her by surprise. "A boy had never talked to me that way before," said Lin. "I thought this man was unique, and I felt special, so I became interested in him, too."

Later on, Hannsen brought Lin to his house to meet his parents, and they discovered that their mothers had been classmates in elementary school. (Although they hadn't seen each other in 23 years).

"That made things special, too," said Lin. "And it made it easier for me to say 'Yes,' because I felt so secure." As for Hannsen, he liked the fact that they'd both attended the same university and had things in common. "And she was very outgoing, and I liked more outgoing women," he said. "I liked to be able to socialize with friends, and an outgoing spouse helps."

As they got to know each other better, Lin also admired his intelligence; she says he still likes to analyze things and observe details. After she agreed to marry him, he returned to Ohio State to complete his studies, and they corresponded by mail and telephone. They married a year later, July 12, 1981, in Taiwan, and then moved to America permanently.

Today, Lin is a child-care provider, a Chinese-language teacher and a board member of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Taiwanese-American Association. Hannsen is a civilian research-engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda. They have three sons; Jason, 19, is an Echol scholar at UVA; Melvin, 17, is a Centreville High senior and Brian, 9, is a third-grader at Centreville Elementary.

Said Lin: "We believe family is very important and we like to do things together." They enjoy skiing, vacationing and regular family discussions, and Hannsen and the boys play basketball together. They also play music as a family. All three children play instruments, Lin sings and Hannsen plays guitar.

"We have a sense of responsibility for our home and family," said Hannsen, who appreciates Lin's dedication to their children. His advice to other couples is, "Be respectful to each other and pay attention to the other person's needs. Try to be accommodating and understanding."

Accordingly, Lin's understanding when he plays basketball, Tuesday nights, and he accepts her teaching, Sunday afternoons. "Valentine's Day is not a holiday in our culture," she said. "[But] romantic things happen every day because of our good relationship."