A couple who got engaged within three months of meeting say their relationship is still going strong 30 years on because they ‘put their marriage before their kids’.
Sonya Heath, 52, met her partner, Al, 53, at a camp where she was working as a nurse. The pair connected instantly.
Sonya wanted to be sure he was the guy for her and on their first date she questioned him on his values, financial stability and family dynamics.
Luckily for Al, he passed the ‘interview’ with flying colours and Sonya returned home to tell her family she could see herself marrying him.
Within three months of dating, Al proposed.
They’ve since had three children together – Summer, 27, Levi, 24, and Quinten, 22 – but insist they have always made their relationship ‘a priority.’
The parents even tell their children they love each other more than the three of them.
While the family go on holiday together, Al and Sonya made it a point to go on a trip once a year without the kids. They also had regular date nights.
And this tactic worked because the loved up pair are now celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this July.
Meanwhile, Sonya said she is ‘more in love’ with Al as time passes.
Sonya, a music pastor, from Toronto, Canada, admitted: ‘I remember seeing him and thinking that guy is good looking. He is something else.
‘When we spoke, and I thought “he’s the sweetest.”
‘We swapped numbers and went on a date. I interviewed him. I wanted to make sure we aligned. I didn’t want to be with a playboy. I wanted a guy who adored me and loved me.
After meeting in July 1992, Soya and Al, a pastor, quickly hit it off and started dating in September of the same year.
When Sonya was away on holiday with her family, Al packed a backpack full of letters for each day they spent apart to remind her of him.
After both realising they were ‘all in’, Al got down on one knee on Christmas Eve 1992 and Sonya said “yes.”
The pair said their successful relationship is partly down to good communication.
‘We’ve always had boundaries with how we speak with each other,’ Sonya said.
‘We never call each other idiots for example.’
After starting a family, the couple still wanted to prioritise their marriage.
‘We’ve always dated, even after having kids,’ Sonya said.
‘When Al came home the first thing he’d do was see me.
‘There are times when the kids need everything from you, but we’d always tell them we love mum or dad more than them.
‘We’d go on vacations with the family and one with just him and I. You love your kids, but our marriage was something we wanted to keep alive.
‘It’s about having an adventure with the other person.’
Since their children all left home in 2019 the couple have been embracing their empty nest life.
Over the years they have visited 36 counties together.
‘I can’t imagine life without him,’ Sonya said. ‘I feel bad when people don’t have someone. It’s such a blessing. He’s my safe space.
‘We’ve done so much more in life together than we would have apart.’
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