Excavating the site of their relationship reveals that, even though the couple only spent a few months together before getting engaged, the two have created a strong foundation for their future.
WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING
“I think they’re perfectly matched,” says Stallings’ father, Reverend Larry D. Stallings. “They’re compatible, terribly interested in what the other is doing, and they promote each other’s interests. They’re talking about adopting children and having a family.”
He says he was impressed with the couple’s forethought, and adds that he had no doubts about the couple, even marrying so young.
“Maybe their journey seemed more natural to me than to others because it was so parallel to mine,” the father says. “I wanted to marry Billy’s mom the first week I met her, so as the next step in their relationship it seemed perfectly right to me.”
While the older Stallings waited a little more than a week to propose to Diane Kasser, the two have celebrated well over 30 anniversaries. Kasser is just as supportive of her son’s decision to get married.
“We feel that they’re mature, that they’re young in years but they can handle this,” she said. “They each put the other one first and give 100 percent to the relationship.”
The couple’s friends have also been supportive of the relationship, and agree that youth should not be a barrier to their marriage.
“People who say they’re too young don’t know them very well,” says Mariah A. Bush ’10, a close friend of the young couple’s and their official wedding photographer.
Megan A. Shutzer ’10, another friend who fully supports the couple’s decision, says that most people who know the couple well have reacted with enthusiasm—with one possible exception.
“I think my parents are disappointed because they love Billy and they wanted us to get married,” Shutzer jokes. “Every mom Billy has ever encountered is disappointed he’s not marrying their kid—he’s such a mom-pleaser.”
NOT A PIECE OF CAKE
But not everyone at Harvard has expressed the degree of enthusiasm shown by friends and family. Stallings and Nauert have encountered skepticism about their decision to marry so young, especially as they only began dating several months before the engagement.
“Most people at Harvard are focused on traditional forms of normative success and wouldn’t get engaged as undergraduates,” Stallings says. “It’s not even an issue even of being too young, but of jeopardizing chances of success. But I know I will certainly achieve my greatest success through being in love with him.”
The couple’s hopes and plans for the future have defied their peers’ skepticism. While they say they have been lucky to avoid encounters with homophobia and have been accepted and supported by most of the people closest to them, their greatest trial has been in their interactions with Nauert’s parents. Though they were relatively understanding when Nauert came out to them as bisexual before starting college, their reaction to his relationship with Stallings was less accepting.
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