Posted by on February 07, 2013 in Blog

By Jade Zoghbi

Spring 2013 Intern

When broken families challenge the foundation of society, and high divorce rates in the United States appear to come with changing morals and new pressures for couples, two people celebrating their commitment to and unconditional love for each other at their 80th wedding anniversary inspires us to share their joy and blessings.

Don’t hold grudges, live within your means, compromise and try to understand each other. Are those the principles for lasting and happy marriages? They may be part of the lifestyle that has guided this beautiful couple through 80 years of marriage.

John Betar (101) and Ann Shawah (97) crossed paths and fell in love in a Syrian American community located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. On November 25, 1932, the two decided to spend the rest of their lives together. This year, the Christian marriage enrichment group Worldwide Marriage Encounter has nominated the couple as the longest married couple in the United States. In celebration of their anniversary, Anna and John will be marking this special year at the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport.

A young John and his brother immigrated to America in 1921 to support their father in creating a new life and foundation in the United States. At the time, Ann Shawah the daughter of Syrian immigrants lived in the same neighborhood.

Though Ann was initially arranged to marry another man, whom her parents had chosen to be the right partner and provider, the 17-year-old Ann independently pursued the relationship with her true love, the 21-year-old John.  Ann says that, "At 17, you wonder if you're making the right choice," she said. "I had grown up with him and we had good times together and we knew each other very well. And it's turned out to be 80 years. ….God seems to have been with us. And we've been very fortunate and wonderful."

Through moments of challenges and happiness in their decades together, the two have worked hard, created a home, and raised a large family. They live the American Dream at its best. John opened his own grocery business in 1938 while Ann supported their five children. Since then, the family has grown and compromises 14 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren whose young spirits continue to invigorate new energy into the couple’s life.

We wish them all the best.

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