Belfast Telegraph

How we have made our whirlwind romances work for us

Short courtships may appear romantic as a couple in the first flush of love get swept along in those first heady days. Just this week, Texan supermodel Jerry Hall (59) and media mogul Rupert Murdoch (84) announced their engagement after a four-month whirlwind romance.

Mr Murdoch proposed to the supermodel when they were in LA for the Golden Globes and the pair are keen to get hitched.

Meanwhile, another courtship which saw the former Cheryl Cole become Mrs Fernandez-Versini after just 12 weeks is set to end in divorce. The 31-year-old former Girls Aloud singer announced in recent weeks she will split from her second husband Jean-Bernard (33) after 18-months of marriage.

We talk to three couples who say they didn't have to wait until they said 'I do' to know their soul mates.

‘Our families thought we were crazy and that we didn’t know each other well enough’

William Love (68), a retired social worker from Carrickfergus, lived up to his name finding the love of his life and getting engaged after just three days to Pat (70), a retired teacher. Now 46 years and two daughters later he reveals how his whirlwind holiday romance was the best decision he ever made. He says:

I am originally from New York and after college I joined the US Marines. At 22, I bought a one way ticket around Europe because I wanted to see the world. During this trip I found myself in Spain and met a group of American friends. One day we were on the beach when I saw the most beautiful girl. We got talking and I found out her name was Pat and she was from Northern Ireland. She went out for dinner with my group of friends that night and I thought she was wonderful.

The next day we met again on the beach and spent all day together. Afterwards we both ended up working at the same nightclub.

We never left each other's side after that and on the third day we started talking about what we were going to do when we finished travelling. I said I wanted to return to New York and become an artist, joking that Pat should join me and become my model and inspiration. She said I'd have to marry her first as she was a good Catholic girl.

I just looked at her and said well why don't you marry me then and she said okay. Even though I think we were both challenging each other to see how far we would go, deep down we both knew it was 100% serious.

I had a migraine the following day after the excitement of Pat accepting my proposal, so it wasn't until the fifth day that I bought her a ring in Barcelona and it was official. We both wrote to our parents to tell them we were engaged and getting married.

In those few days we just fell head over heels in love with each other and knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Of course our families thought we were crazy and that we were too young and we didn't know each other well enough. But it was like the cliched bolt of lightning or being hit over the head with something - it was out of our control.

Something must have been right, though, as we married in October 1969 just three months after we met and we have been happily married ever since.

We have two beautiful daughters, Rachel (40) and Sara (35). We also had a son Aaron Michael who was killed when he was just 17 after being hit by a police car at a pelican crossing outside the student's union in Belfast.

So when we took those vows, in sickness and in health, for richer for poor, for better for worse, we really meant them and it has been put to the test many times over the years, but our love for each other has never faltered and it is an enduring love.

We have spent time living in the States, living in Donegal where we still have a holiday home, and now we are back to Carrickfergus and very happy to be here again.

Looking back it was madness to get engaged after just three days and it was never something I would recommend to my daughters - but we just knew we wanted to be together.

I think we have lasted the distance because ours is a deep love that is very real. The basis is friendship and we've always talked about everything and shared everything.

There have been good times and bad times over the years, but we've got through everything together and it has just made us stronger.

We have the same sense of humour and can have a laugh. Our strong faith has also been important to us over the years.

I am a great believer in intuition and it just felt right with Pat. We made a commitment to each other all those years ago and we have honoured that commitment."

'Being together was the most natural thing in the world and we love it'

As a wedding planner Alise Taggart (28), originally from Atlanta, Georgia in America but now living in Belfast, knows all about love and romance. However, she didn't expect to get engaged to Conor Taggart (28), a financial analyst from west Belfast, after just a few meetings. She says:

On the last night of my trip to Ireland when I was travelling in Europe with my best friend, I met Conor. My friend and I were in a pub one night in July 2010 when I got chatting to him - and I liked him instantly.

We had a lot in common and I really enjoyed his company, but I was going home to America after I finished my travels, so I didn't think I'd ever see him again. To me it was a holiday romance.

A few days later, though, I got a friend request from him on Facebook. And I was surprised at how excited and glad I was to hear from him. I had butterflies and contacted him straight away and we chatted back and forth throughout the rest of my trip.

As I was flying back to the States from Dublin, Conor and I had a chance to spend three days together and they were wonderful. I knew there was something special between us but I had to go back home.

It was devastating having to leave him, but when I got back home we were on Skype and Facebook talking every day and I realised I really liked him.

A few months later I flew over for two weeks and that cemented things - we fell in love and knew we wanted to be together. Conor came over to meet my family in November for Thanksgiving. Everyone really liked him, but I don't think they realised at that stage how serious we were about each other.

Neither of us were looking to settle down or get married at this stage in our lives, but things just progressed and when I came back for a visit in December, Conor proposed.

He was giving me my Christmas presents and he had written a story about our time together and our journey so far - when I looked up he was on one knee with a beautiful ring.

All of our friends and family were completely shocked and concerned about the speed of things, as we had only known each other a few months and only spent a few weeks together. By this stage, though, we were both sure it was what we wanted and it was for keeps.

We promised our parents we would wait for a while to get married - and we were married 14 months later in Atlanta in April 2012, before moving back to Belfast and settling into married life together.

Everyone told us that things would change when we were married, as neither of us had ever lived with anyone before. But it was the most natural thing in the world just being together and we love it. He's my best friend and I love being married to him. I chose to be with him for always - that's what we promised when we married - and we meant it.

It may have been quick, but I do believe when you meet the one you really do know and it doesn't matter how long you have known them for.

We have a lot of similar interests and I love Conor's sense of humour.

He makes me laugh every day and I think you can't put a time on love."

'Life is short enough and I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of it with him'

Rochelle Bannon (42), a social worker, lives in Michigan, America, with her husband Aidan Bannon (37), a plastics manufacturer from Leitrim, Co Down. Rochelle has three children from her first marriage; Philip (19), Ethan (17) and Gillian (12). She says:

I met Aidan on an iPhone dating app called Twine. I had only been on it for three weeks when we started talking - and we talked non-stop as soon as we met. This lasted for a few days before we became Facebook friends and started talking on there, too. We then started to Skype each other.

He was living in Charlotte in North Carolina at the time, which is 12 hours' drive away from me. After a few weeks of talking all the time, though, I knew I had to see him, so I drove through the night to his house to surprise him.

He was working in an Irish bar at the time and I was a divorcee with three children but something just clicked and I knew I had to see him.

Aidan was completely shocked when I arrived and we met over the gate and couldn't hug each other quick enough or long enough. We both felt like we had found something we had been looking for all our lives. I spent the weekend with him and we found we had so much in common. It even turned out that we had been in the same places and cities at the same time, including Germany but our paths just hadn't crossed.

We continued to talk on Skype everyday for hours when I returned home. Then Aidan got a call that his mum was ill and he had to go back to Leitrim.

Although we were talking everyday I really didn't know what the future held at that stage, as I didn't expect him to come back to the States.

I missed him so much and wanted to be with him so much, that a few months later I flew over to Ireland with my daughter to spend the summer with him and his family.

It was when I was leaving that Aidan proposed. He bought me a Claddagh ring and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes straight away, as I knew I wanted to be with him forever.

Some of my friends thought I was mad, as we had spent such little time together but the friends and family who had seen us together gave us their full support as they knew we were meant to be.

At our stage in life, you know when you meet someone if it's right or not and you don't want to waste any time. Life is short enough and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of it with Aidan. He makes me so happy and my children love him, which was so important to me.

We met online in November 2013, and we married on October 24, 2014 at a very romantic ceremony in Michigan. We incorporated lots of Irish themes into the wedding as Aidan's family weren't able to attend at such short notice but we found a way to post the wedding live on the internet, so they could all watch and be part of it.

They even had a big party over here to celebrate our wedding. It has been an amazing journey and we believe we are truly soul mates. Time was never a factor for us - we just fell in love.

I think the fact that we talked so much at the beginning brought us closer and gave us a deep connection that wasn't just physical.

It might seem quick in some people's eyes but we just knew we wanted to be together. We wanted to grow old together and we wanted to start as soon as possible."

Belfast Telegraph


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