Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Inseparable even when oceans apart

Published:Sunday | February 16, 2020 | 12:05 AMVanessa James - Outlook Writer
Thaddeus and Tetlah Butler smiles for the camera as they celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss.
Tetlah’s mother, Geseta Walker, age 94, shares in the couple’s diamond anniversary at their Linstead home.
Thaddeus Butler holds his wife, Tetlah, of 60 years closely as they smile for the camera at their St Catherine home
Thaddeus and Tetlah Butler with Geseta Walker, Tetlah’s mother, as they celebrate the couple’s diamond anniversary.
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February 12, 2020, was a very special day for Thaddeus and Tetlah Butler as that was when the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. The two became one in 1960 and have been inseparable ever since, even when they were oceans apart. They were more than proud to share their 60 years of romance with Outlook.

“As a youngster, you go about and you see girls, and girls see boys, and then we just like each other and we went on from that,” said Thaddeus, before Tetlah joined in and gave more details on how they met.

“He used to come from Point Hill to my district in O’Meally [in St Catherine] to pick coconut and do what they have to do for the week. I lived at my grandmother’s house, and that’s where he met me,” said Tetlah. “When I was younger, he said he was coming back for me one day, but I never believed him. When I got to a certain age, he did come back and asked my grandmother if he could have her granddaughter.”

“In those times, you had to ask for permission and if the parent didn’t consent, then it’s up to you two,” Thaddeus finished the point.

A good life

The two said that they have lived a good life together, even through the ups and downs of their relationship, and that is something that they are equally thankful for. Thaddeus even revealed the secret to their long marriage.

“You must understand each other and you must trust each other,” he said. “Now as a young person, everything has its ups and downs, but when you understand each other I am supposed to know what you don’t like, and you should know what I don’t like, so you wouldn’t keep on rubbing it in. Understanding is very important,” he said.

He stressed that knowing your partner is just as important because without understanding, the whole relationship falls apart.

The union has produced five children – four girls and a boy – who were all born and raised in the United Kingdom (UK), as the couple migrated there. Thaddeus left a year after their marriage in 1961, and Tetlah followed a year later in September 1962. They spent 45 years living in the UK before returning to Jamaica in 2005 to their home in Linstead where they continue to enjoy each other.

“He treats me as a baby because I was just 17 and he was 20, so he has been taking care of me from then. He comes in with the money and he does what he has to do and I am satisfied,” said Tetlah.

“We have five children and they never heard us quarrel with each other. If we do quarrel, it’s when they are gone to school, and we don’t let them know what we quarrel about,” Tetlah shared. “However, when we quarrel and they come home from school, they will see that mom’s face looks funny, but mom not telling them what’s wrong, and dad still has his dinner. I still cook and give him his dinner, and he still has to eat when I give him his dinner. So the children can’t say, ‘Why dad not eating his dinner?” Tetlah explained.

She revealed that money was not something that the couple ever argued about.

Thaddeus, now 80, and Tetlah, at age 77, still enjoy time alone and find time for the things they both love.

“Sometimes we go to the beach or a hotel for the weekend, and we have been on about three cruises,” said Thaddeus,

“We are not a boring couple. We were poor and we fought our way up, so now we are enjoying our life,” Tetlah added.

When asked what they would change about the 60 years they have spent with each other, Thaddeus stated without pause that he would change nothing.

“I wouldn’t change anything! I have enjoyed my marriage,” he said.

However, Tetlah explained that she would like to return to England.

“I would like to go back to England. If I were to choose, I would go back. He [Thaddeus] likes it here, but I don’t!” she said. “He wanted to come back, but I didn’t want to leave my children,” she explained.

The Butlers said that their children visit each year, and they sometimes still take trips to England.

Their message to other couples includes the same principles that have kept them together for 60 years – knowing and understanding your partner, and trusting each other.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com