Love Through the Ages: Betty and Alan
For this couple, love began 47 years ago in a flower shop in Birmingham. Alan, then a university student, came to the shop to begin work as a delivery driver during his Christmas holiday from university and there he met the young florist working behind the counter, Betty. “I was the designated driver from the start, I suppose,” Alan jokes, “and the rest was history.”
After four years together, Betty and Alan tied the knot.
All these years later, Betty admits that on their wedding day they had no way of knowing what a lifetime together would truly come to mean. Mainly, she says, because when you’re a youngster you don’t think that far ahead. “We made our vows and said until death us do part, but you can’t imagine what it’s like after 20, 30, 40 years. You can only make a decision based on how you feel at the time and because you hope it will work in the future.” But it takes more than just hoping: Alan adds that longevity “requires flexibility because we all go through changes through life.”
When it comes to making a successful marriage, the couple agrees that an attitude of flexibility and evolution is essential. Watching your partner change and develop overtime should be something that binds you together rather than pulls you apart.
Couples stay together a long time because they’ve become more intertwined with each other. It isn’t something instantaneous, but rather a story that evolves over a long period of time.
While thinking about the strength that comes with flexibility, Alan laughs admitting that he got Betty to move house 16 times and live in four different countries on account of his work. “He didn’t tell me that when he asked me to marry him!” Betty remarks. Once, after having thought they were going to be moving to L.A., Alan had to break the news to Betty that they would instead be moving to Glasgow. Betty says she was happy to move, despite the much more dismal weather conditions than she had initially been promised. But being together means making compromises, even when it comes to sunshine.
And at the heart of compromise is respect for the other person. “Relationships, marriage or partnerships are something that have to be worked at,” Alan says. “It isn’t a sprinkling of Stardust and everything will be going alright. The little things don’t matter, what matters is making the right decisions together on the big things. The best way to do that is to have mutual respect and understanding while also being loving and kind towards that person.”
Betty and Alan have shared in each other’s support through good times and bad. Since retiring they’ve embraced adventure, spending four months a year travelling to the likes of Australia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bali, to name but a few. They agree that “it's important to remember that as you go through life, you shouldn't stop seeking adventure.”
But after nearly half a century together, you learn that life will always bring its challenges. Back when they moved to Connecticut, both Betty and Alan went for routine check-ups. Their doctor quickly got in touch to tell Betty she had good news and bad news. “Put simply, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
The good news was that it was detected much earlier than usual, meaning she had a good chance of fighting it. Her treatment was a difficult time not just for Betty but for everyone who loved her. Thankfully, she eventually finished treatment and was declared cancer-free.
To celebrate they went to a jeweller in Connecticut and decided to add two side diamonds to her diamond ring to represent the past, present and future—and gratitude for all three.
On her other hand Betty sports a three carat ruby that they had made at Taylor & Hart by their granddaughter—and our Design Director—Kate, to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
It feels very special to have a piece of jewellery that can mark a moment in time, and to bring a sense of hope. It’s good to have something tangible that can bring you back to a lesson that you’ve learned along the way.
It seems that at the heart of Betty and Alan’s relationship is a deep sense of appreciation, both for each other and the opportunity to live a meaningful, fulfilling life. “People don’t get to the end of their life wishing they had spent more time at work,” Alan warns. “Two people will make each other happier and more fulfilled together than either of those people ever could on their own. Love is the most significant event that happens to you in your life.”
We couldn’t agree more.