Couple finally get married 43 years after bride's mom pressured her to end relationship
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One couple have finally tied the knot after over four decades apart.
The husband and wife's relationship endured heaps of pressure from the bride's mother.
She encouraged her daughter to end things based on her disapproval of the man.
The American couple first met each other at Loyola University in Chicago in 1971.
After 43 years, Jeanne Gustavson, 69, and her new husband Stephen Watts, 73, have finally got hitched.
However, the process was a long and difficult one.
Upon meeting, when Jeanne was a junior and Stephen was a senior at university, the two shortly began dating.
Remembering the time, Jeanne recalled that she found Stephen 'very striking', the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Speaking to PEOPLE magazine, she said he was: "Extremely handsome, dressed impeccably, always a gentleman - everything you'd want in a boyfriend."
However, Jeanne's mother strongly objected to the relationship.
The mother disapproved of the interracial nature of Jeanne and Stephen's budding romance and, as Jeanne recalls it, she went 'ballistic'.
"She didn't want this relationship to happen at all," Jeanne explained.
While the pair continued to date in secret some years following, the external pressures eventually became too much for them to handle.
"I was completely overwhelmed by everything," the 69-year-old said.
"The family issue was always weighing on me because it fractured the relationship between my mother and myself forever.
"She was always my mother and I always loved her, but it affected our relationship for the rest of my life," she admitted.
Jeanne eventually succumbed to the pressure and ended the relationship which she deeply 'regretted'.
"I would've lost my entire family," she explained.
"I knew that if I did marry him, I probably wouldn't see my family again."
Flash-forward forty-years and two had lead entirely separate lives.
Now divorced, Jeanne then went looking for her university sweetheart to rekindle their relationship.
She recalled: "Everything came up a dead end when I tried to search for him.
"There was virtually no trace of him."
Until, in April 2021, Jeanne discovered that Stephen resided in a nursing home based in Chicago from his niece, Adrienne Baskin, who responded to Jeanne's letters.
"I needed to know: Was he okay? Was he married? Would he forgive me?" Jeanne said.
Upon finally reuniting, after over four decades had past, Jeanne was over-the-moon to find that Stephen 'still loved' her.
Even with two strokes and a leg amputation, Jeanne said: "He was still the wonderful man that I knew 50 years ago. He had withdrawn. There were little glimmers of his personality."
The two moved in together in Oregon in the August of that year.
Stephen has called Jeanne 'wonderful' and his 'heart and soul'. He's said he wants to 'live with her always'.
Skip-forward some more months and the 73-year-old finally popped the question Jeanne had been waiting for for over forty years.
Jeanne revealed: "When he proposed, I said, 'A thousand times yes!' We're trying to make up for lost years."
The two officially got married on 15 October 2022 with 65 guests at the ceremoney. Jeanne changed her name from Gustavson to Watts.
She said: "I gladly took his last name. I've wanted it for a long time."
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org
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