Belfast Telegraph

How three local couples found a lasting love

By Maureen Coleman

Three Northern Ireland personalities tell how they found true romance with their partners and reveal the secrets behind their loving relationships.

Belfast singer Brian Houston, who is in his early 40s, is married to Pauline. He says:

I was 16 when I first proposed to Pauline. We were in her hallway at the time and I asked her to marry me. We'd been going out together for a while and I knew in my heart that she was the girl for me. I'm an all-or-nothing type of guy and I didn't think there was any point in dating if it wasn't going to go somewhere. I had gone out with other girls before her but I'd always moved on fairly quickly if I saw something in them that I didn't like. I didn't want to mess around.

We met when we were at primary school in Braniel, but I didn't really know her. We just grew up in the same area. Then she started going out with my older brother. She must have been about 13 at the time. They dated for around six months. Funny enough, I didn't like her then. For a start, she was going out with my brother.

I remember one day, it must have been about two years later, I was walking into a room as she was walking out. Our eyes met. There was an immediate spark. I asked her friend to ask her out for me. Pauline said she would agree to it, as long as I didn't dump her after a week. I must have had a bit of a reputation for that type of thing. Anyway, I said I wouldn't and we started going out. She dumped me a week later.

When I was 19 we split up for a while. It was a fairly long break of three months. Pauline went off to Canada and I went to France. I knew, when I was away, that she was definitely The One. It took for us both to be away from Northern Ireland to realise what we had. We met up at the airport and I proposed to her again but she said she had to think about it. She kept me waiting for a month. But we got married 18 months later. We were both quite young, Pauline was 20 and I was 21. We went on to have two children, Stephanie and Danny. They're 23 and 21 now.

The biggest shock in our lives came when Pauline was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy. But her illness was a fantastic confirmation that we were meant to be together and that we had both found the right person to share our lives with. The fear of losing someone you love really focuses your mind. I remember we used to do things like go out for long walks together, making positive declarations of health or quoting verses from the Bible. We changed our diet and lifestyle. As far as I was concerned, we were in this together. It was our battle against cancer, not just hers. She has been cured of cancer eight years now.

In terms of my career, we decided that it was a journey we also wanted to take together, so she works with me now. It is important to me that I have someone who supports me. At the moment I'm up in the North Coast working on a new album and I have a show coming up at the Grand Opera House on March 16. Pauline is here with me while I'm working on my album.

I am romantic, I'd like to think. One time, when Pauline had the cancer and was in bed ill, I bought her a new Mercedes sports car, wrapped in a pink ribbon for her birthday. But it's the little things that count too, like always being there for each other. Everything we've been through as a couple, as a family, has confirmed to us that we made the right choice when we decided we’d marry.

We were good friends before love blossomed

Presenter and former Miss Great Britain, Gemma Garrett (30) is married to Andy Cosgrove (29. She says:

I guess you could say that Andy and I had a whirlwind romance, although we actually knew each other for around six years before we got together. We hung out in the same big crowd and always got on well. I thought he was a really funny guy, but he was going out with someone and so was I.In the Christmas of 2008 I bumped into him in town. He was shopping for his girlfriend's present and didn't know what to buy her, so he asked me to give him a hand. It's strange now to think of that, but we were mates and that's all there was to it.

The following summer we were all heading off to Ibiza. Andy had split from his girlfriend at this stage and I was dating someone too. But we decided to share a room. After all, we were friends. Things started to change when we were away. A few wee things happened and I started to look at him differently. We would sit up into the early hours, talking about everything. I felt that I could really be myself around him. Because we spent so much time together, we began to see a different side to each other. He told me that he'd always thought I was a bit mental, a bit wild, but that during that break, he'd seen a calmer side to me.

When we got home we started dating, but we weren't exclusive. I remember Andy saying to me that my lifestyle scared him. There were the magazine photoshoots, the Russell Brand fling, me being in the papers. I was advised by my PR man to say I was single. Andy found that all hard to deal with, which was understandable.

Then in January of 2010, he came to me and said that he needed to know what was going on between us. I knew I had feelings for him, but we'd both been seeing other people. We agreed there and then to give it a go, to have an exclusive relationship.

A month later he proposed. I came home to find a huge big box in the middle of the room. When I opened it up, it was filled with helium balloons, with a tiny ring box inside. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. We tied the knot in September of that year.

Andy makes me feel secure. I used to say I didn't believe in love, that I would only ever marry for a nice lifestyle. People always thought that was strange because my mum and dad are so happily married, but I guess I'd been let down before and had met so many losers. Andy changed all that for me. We are so compatible and he makes me laugh every day. He knows when to let me off with things, but when to put his foot down. I definitely believe that our relationship works because we were friends to begin with. It's such a good foundation for a marriage.

I know Wayne would do anything for me

Northern Ireland-born actress Jayne Wisener (24) is engaged to Wayne Austin (34). She says:

I first met Wayne at a friend's birthday party. I'd moved over to England for my career and had been living there a couple of years. I went along to a 30th birthday party and there he was. He was a friend of my friend's fiance. I remember thinking that I liked the look of him and wanted to go and talk to him. And when we got chatting, we hit it off immediately. To be honest, I felt like I'd known him all my life.

On our first date, we went for a long walk along the South Bank in London, then on to a pub for a few drinks. It was all just so relaxed and I felt really comfortable with him. I guess I knew straight away that I liked him. We've been going out about three and a half years now and we live together in Kent.

What makes Wayne so special is that he is the most selfless, giving person I've ever met. And he is so supportive of me, which is very important, given my choice of career. I know he would do absolutely anything for me.

Wayne is proud of me and understands my job. He's totally fine with it. Let's just say he's seen the worst of it in the thriller Injustice! In a new film I've done called Life Just is, I have to have a full-on snog with Paul Nicholls. I took Wayne along for the screening and beforehand, the director did a test scene, just to make sure everything was working ok. Of course, it had to be that scene they showed. But Wayne was cool, he knows it's my job.

Wayne is romantic, but maybe my idea of romance is different from everybody else's. He is very thoughtful and always shows me that he loves me in little ways. That to me is more romantic than big bouquets of flowers. That's not to say he doesn't get me flowers as well ...

The way he proposed was pretty romantic. He got me loads of little surprises all weekend, leading up to the proposal. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He'd already spoken to my parents about it. They really like him, they know he makes me happy and that he's good for me. We're getting married this July at St Patrick's in Coleraine, followed by a reception at the Royal Court Hotel in Portrush. I'm really excited about it and can't wait. Wayne's sorting out the suits at the moment and then we're sorting out the bridesmaids' dresses. I'm having four bridesmaids. My parents are coming over to England to meet Wayne's parents for the first time, so we're looking forward to that.

Things are going really well at the moment. I have a new drama coming out this month on BBC2 called Six Degrees, about students living in Belfast, and then I'm marrying Wayne this summer. 2012 is going to be a great year.

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