Wichita’s sweetest couple

Matt and Erika Lillie

Written by Sara Garrison

The love story of Matt and Erika Lillie began seven years ago. The co-founders of Opti-Life Health and Fitness Center first met while attending a meditation convention in Denver, Colorado, but it was their instant connection and chemistry that sparked their inspirational love story.

“I was dating someone else when I met Matt,” says Erika Lillie. “After I left Denver, Matt’s name kept popping into my head, randomly. I sent him a Facebook friend request and I never heard back. It was not long after my boyfriend and I broke up when Matt finally accepted my friend request.”

“It took me three months to finally see her friend request on Facebook,” explains Matt Lillie. “When we became friends, we started messaging back and forth on Facebook. I asked her to have lunch with me the next time she was in Wichita, which happened to be a few days later.”

Matt invited Erika to attend a spiritual meditation retreat the following weekend. During the retreat, sparks flew and there was a huge amount of chemistry between the couple. Attendees at the conference joked that cupid was flying around them.

The conference ended on a Sunday. The next day Erika flew to Florida to attend a conference for her job as a clinical nurse educator.

“We talked on the phone for a few hours that Monday night. During that conversation my heart started to get physically hot,” explains Matt. “It was such a strange, physical reaction. I asked Erika if she wanted me to ask her now or later and she said now. So, I then asked her to marry me. We had never kissed, held hands or even been on an official date, but we both knew we were meant to be together.”

“When we were talking on the phone, we both realized something beyond us, a God thing, was going on,” says Erika. “When he asked me to marry him I immediately said yes, which is totally unlike me. It was as if a force greater than myself, a higher power, was pushing me towards this union.”

When the couple told their families and friends, everyone was overjoyed. There was no hesitation or negative reactions from anyone.

“It was such a surreal and magical time that was unlike anything we have ever experienced,” says Erika. “Matt and I had such a strong connection. We knew we were meant to be.”

“What I love about Matt is that he is so thoughtful. He is always thinking about what is best for our family.” — Erika Lillie

Three weeks after the proposal, Erika moved from Olathe to Wichita to live with Matt. The couple was married in May 2014 and they welcomed their first child, Sam, in June 2015. Their second child, Sophia, was born in November 2019.

Becoming parents has meant the world to both Erika and Matt. The couple did not know if they would ever get married or even have children. Now they can’t imagine their lives any other way.

“My children are my whole world. People say you don’t know true love until you have children,” says Erika. “I was so career driven that I didn’t know if I would ever be a wife and a mom. Now, I can’t imagine my life any other way. My children are my whole heart.”

“Children view the world in such a fresh and authentic way,” says Matt. “Sam is always finding a reason to be joyful, and as a dad I love being pulled into his joy.”

“To this day, I look at Erika and I get still get butterflies that make my heart flutter. She is extremely graceful in how she flows through the world.” — Matt Lillie

Matt and Erika have always loved health, wellness and fitness. Years before Matt and Erika had even met, they individually nurtured visions of creating a health and wellness business that was community focused. Early in their relationship they discussed these visions, and their similar experiences inspired the creation of Opti-Life, which opened in 2017. Today, the business is thriving with over 1,500 members at their state-of-the-art fitness facility in Wichita.

At Opti-Life, Erika is a yoga and mindfulness Instructor. She teaches classes in the Opti-U classroom on topics such “Toxin-free Living,” “Facing Your Fears” and “Living a Balanced Life.” She also participates in a variety of public speaking engagements in Wichita. In addition to Opti-Life, Matt is founder and partner at Physicians Development Group.

Matt and Erika credit their marital success to mutual respect and commitment. The couple also makes an effort to carve out alone time each day, even if it is just for a few minutes. They also make an effort to have a date night once each week.

“We have definitely been through ups and downs in our relationship, but having a strong love for each other and knowing, no matter what the obstacle, that we will figure it out has been a key to our healthy marriage,” explains Erika. “In my opinion, the key to a healthy marriage is recognizing the other person’s love language and trying to put them first. Having patience and having faith are also really important.”

“Every relationship needs work and growth,” says Matt. “Love is a decision, not just a feeling. The heart feels, but the mind needs to remember it is a commitment. When you put the work into a relationship, that is what makes the special times even more special.”

Matt and Erika have a relationship that is an inspiration to all who have heard their inspiring story.

“What I love about Matt is that he is so thoughtful. He is always thinking about what is best for our family,” explains Erika. “Matt is a brilliant businessman. He dreams big and he makes those dreams happen. To see his incredible faith and fortitude is just amazing.”

“To this day, I look at Erika and I get still get butterflies that make my heart flutter,” says Matt. “She is extremely graceful in how she flows through the world. I absolutely love her laugh. When she laughs the whole world’s problems fade away and everything is right in the world for me.”

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