Yale’s new first couple

President-elect Peter Salovey and Marta Moret SPH ’84 have been married for 27 years.
President-elect Peter Salovey and Marta Moret SPH ’84 have been married for 27 years. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

Few Yale students expect to find lasting love in Toad’s or GPSCY, but fairy tales can take root within the walls of Yale’s finest social establishments — and the 27-year marriage of President-elect Peter Salovey and Marta Moret SPH ’84 is proof.

The tale of Peter and Marta traces its beginning to fall 1983. Salovey had just been elected president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and he would soon experience the first of many presidential perks: meeting Moret, his vice president for communications. Salovey had just entered GPSCY Bar on York Street for a GPSS meeting when he first laid eyes on Moret, and Moret remembers the moment vividly because, she alleged, Salovey put his glasses on to get a better look when she introduced herself to the group. But if it was love at first sight, it wasn’t quite reciprocated.

“She at first tried to fix me up with a classmate at the public health school,” Salovey said. “But I persevered.”

Hard work and perseverance may be the root of success, but it did not take much of either before Salovey and Moret decided to go out on their first date: After the second GPSS meeting, the pair agreed to meet up over burgers at the Brass Button, a now-defunct New Haven burger joint. The second date followed its fancy precedent when the pair went to a lunch in Coxe Cage for the Association of Yale Alumni tailgate at the Yale-Princeton football game that year, and then the relationship started gaining momentum. For the third date, Moret flew out to Chicago to accompany Salovey to his friend’s wedding over Thanksgiving break.

Two years and countless dates later, Salovey decided to take his relationship with Moret to the next level. The night before the two-year anniversary of their first date, Salovey hid an engagement ring in the pocket of a pair of pants he hoped Moret would wear the next day — and Moret’s fashion sense did not fail her.

While Moret called the ring “perfect,” the rock alone could not propose on Salovey’s behalf.

“I was sort of hanging around in case it happened,” Salovey said. “And then I was able to explain myself and formally propose.”

Moret said yes, and the couple was married in June 1986. For the reception, the couple picked the only band in Connecticut that would accommodate Moret’s Puerto Rican family members and Salovey’s Jewish relatives, so the ceremony became a whirlwind of salsa music and “Jewish wedding standards,” Salovey said.

The wedding was almost three decades ago, and the couple still remembers the day fondly.

“My brother took a video of that wedding which we take out and watch sometimes on our anniversary,” Salovey said. “We’ve been married 27 years, so let’s just say we were younger then — it’s pretty obvious when you see the video.”

But with age comes maturity, and Salovey said the past few decades have softened some of the stark contrasts between him and Moret.

Salovey is deeply committed to performing and listening to bluegrass music — a love that Moret, who prefers jazz and opera, happened not to share at first. But the initial dislike of bluegrass gradually faded, and Salovey said the couple’s best vacation was a drive down the “Crooked Road” in southwest Virginia, a music heritage trail for hillbilly, old-time and country bluegrass music. Moret said she now croons “along with Ralph Stanley.” For his part, Salovey has grown to share his wife’s interest in historic gardening, which involves restoring a garden to the way it existed when the area was first developed. While he does not participate, Salovey said he has learned to appreciate his wife’s dedication.

The couple’s dates, too, have evolved with time. They typically attend shows at the Yale Repertory Theatre, hike and drive through rural Connecticut. Most recently, Salovey said he looked forward to making a date of watching President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address two nights ago, and tonight, the couple will attend a show at the School of Music.

Levin said he expects Salovey and Moret to enjoy their role as Yale’s first couple because they are both enthusiastic about Yale and have attended numerous student events throughout Salovey’s administrative career.

Always the psychology professor, Salovey insists there is something to be learned from his relationship with Moret.

“I think the lesson from Marta and my story is not necessarily that love can be found at the GPSCY (or Toad’s for that matter),” he said in a Wednesday email, “but perhaps it can be by participating in student government activities.”

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