They fell in love a bit more each day he drove her to their high school in his Ford Roadster. Now, 83 years after they tied the knot, John and Ann Betar are ready to share the secrets of love everlasting on social media.
For the first time, the United States’ longest-married couple will take to Twitter on Valentine’s Day to field questions on love and marriage from young romantics hoping to learn the secrets of their success.
The Betars raised four daughters and one son in Fairfield, Conn., where they still live, and now have 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren — and counting.
“I’m so glad to be living through all this modern stuff,” Ann said to Yahoo News, “because it’s an education to me! It’s something I knew nothing about … but through your children, your grandchildren, you learn an awful lot!”
Her husband added, “I’m just happy to be living, without pain. So nice, so lucky.”
John Betar, 104, was born in Syria and arrived in the United States in 1921 at 10 years of age as a World War I refugee. He spoke only Turkish.
He fell in love with “the girl next door,” Ann Shawah, now 100, while driving her to Bassick High School each morning in their hometown of Bridgeport, Conn.
Much to their distress, Ann’s father announced that he was arranging for her to marry a man 20 years her senior. On Nov. 25, 1932, at 21 and 17, the couple fled to Harrison, N.Y., where they got hitched the same day.
John ran Betar’s Market on Broad Street in Bridgeport to provide for their growing family. He closed the grocery in 1963 to start a career in real estate.
Yahoo News asked the Betars if they could shed a little light on the secret to a happy marriage before the Twitter event.
“Really, it’s just about devoting your time to understanding one another,” Ann said.
“Live within your means: Be content with what you have in life,” John said. “Oh, and always agree with your wife!”
Answering questions through Twitter will be a brand-new experience for the couple.
“What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than [to] get insight from the oldest couple in America?” asked Handy co-founder and CEO Oisin Hanrahan in a press release. “With 204 years of collective experience between them, John and Ann have so much wisdom to share. It’s inspiring to see that they have built and continue to maintain a happy home after all this time together. We at Handy are honored to help them share their tips and tricks with the world.”
Handy is an online service for booking home cleaning and handyman services. The organization plans to donate money to a charity of the Betars’ choosing.
Aldo Civico, an anthropologist who teaches conflict resolution at Columbia University and Rutgers University, told Yahoo News that the key to a lasting relationship is unconditional love.
“When I had the opportunity to do conflict resolution work with couples I observed that a crisis is often created by unmet needs,” Civico said via email. “The secret is to constantly grow in one’s capacity to give unconditional love. Lasting love is about fulfilling each other’s needs.”
The Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian marriage enrichment program, first dubbed the Betars the country’s “longest married couple” in February 2014.