Outlook on marriage | A tale of love and devotion
Norah and Basil Allen were young souls who fell deeply and passionately in love. Today, 56 years later, their love prevails and is stronger than ever.
Born and raised in Browns Town, St Catherine, the two met in the house of the Lord. Norah remembered the details. "I was in the church first, before him, and he had a cousin who was my friend and I always used to visit her. He also visited her as well." From there, they grew closer. As time passed, their love grew stronger and they celebrated their nuptials on June 5, 1961.
According to Norah: "I wasn't very sure he was the one for me. Maybe for him, but not for me." Basil, on the other hand, was quite certain. "I knew for a fact that she was the one. I looked at her from the beginning and I just knew that she was the one for me. And I am sure I would have no other one but her."
Marriage can be like the Tom and Jerry cartoon series - couples argue all the time, but cannot live without each other. According to the Allan's, it's a partnership that comes with several valuable lessons. For Norah, the most important lesson she has learnt about marriage is to understand and sincerely please each other. "It is important to know what the person likes and what they don't. There are times when you think that you know everything about them. But there are times when you will just not get it right. Sometimes the thing is not what you really want to do, but just to please them and let there be peace and quiet. You should try your best to do it," Norah said. "I agree with her," her husband chimed in. "Try to understand and please (your spouse). And you should not go out of your way to do things (your partner) would not like. I don't shout at my wife, and we have never quarrelled," Basil said. "The most important thing in a marriage is to have God in front of you. You to need to have God in your marriage. Learn to pray and pray secretly. Also, teach each other about Him and talk about Him. Sometimes (you will have) things you would like to emphasise. There will be times when you are not able to speak it out, but secretly you tell it to the Lord," Norah said.
With decades of love under their belt, here are tips the Allens have offered for a successful marriage:
Tips from Norah
1. Be contented. There are times things will not go the way you want them to. Nevertheless, you have to be satisfied with what you have and make a way so that you can live a happy life.
2. Learn each other's ways. This goes back to being aware of their preferences, likes and dislikes. Life will definitely be better this way.
3. Be helpful. As partners, you must help each other. Always work together and help each other.
4. Avoid company. Keep quiet, because too much company and especially bad company is not good for a marriage. At times, they will offer you bad advice. So, always try to keep away from them.
5. Know your priorities. You must know what is important in your marriage. For example, you don't have to be rich to be happy. At all times, you should try to be happy and make good of what you have.
Tips from Basil
1. Love unconditionally. You must have love within you. In fact, add love to everything that you do as a couple.
2. Put God first. You must acknowledge that there is a God and He should be at the centre of the marriage.
3. Exclude parents from your marriage. If you want to live a good life, take your in-laws out of your marriage. No matter how they promise to be good to you, you should exclude them from your private life, especially your marriage.
4. Be thankful for small mercies. Sometimes you will expect a big package, but you will not always get that. But no matter what, you should always be thankful for what you have received.
5. Be a good home keeper. Do not be misguided to tarnish your home.
With six children, the couple believes that their marriage has got stronger. "If you see them you will love all of them," Basil said proudly. For the Allens, parenting requires a sacrifice for their children. Said Norah: "I did most of the talking. I was always at home growing the children by myself because my husband spent most of the time travelling on the farm work programme." Norah has been a teacher for more than 40 years and noted: "It's not that things were not hard, but we had to find our way around. I can remember times when we went to bed not having anything and the next morning the children had to go to school. So, at five in the morning, he would have to get up and seek a loan from someone." As a parent, Basil has learnt some valuable life lessons. He said: "Never work for yourself to kill yourself." It means don't wreck yourself in a bid to achieve everything. Today, the couple lives for themselves, their children and their 13 grandchildren.