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  • Writer's pictureEmmaleen Muldoon

What is love? Leonie and Patrick

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

“I never wanted to get married, ever. I can’t put a word to it, something changed, I just wanted her to be mine.”

Leonie and Patrick

Leonie and Patrick have been married for forty-five years and have three grown-up children. They live together in Hawkwell, England. Patrick grew up in Essex. Leonie grew up in London and moved to Essex when she was five or six. Her family was in the pub business, it was whilst working in her family pub at twenty-two years of age, that she met Patrick.

I couldn’t wait to speak to Leonie and Patrick about what makes a successful relationship and see what love means to them.

Patrick had a mutual friend that took him to Leonie’s family’s pub one night. Patrick recalls upon seeing Leonie behind the bar for the first time, “it was love at first sight.” A few weeks passed, and Patrick kept returning to the pub to see her; after a few drinks to ease his nerves he asked her out. She agreed and so after work that night he took her to a fashionable burger bar on the seafront, as it was one of the only places open, their relationship began from there.

Two months after dating, they agreed to get married. Patrick was in Scotland with his friends to participate in his sport, Rally car racing. Desperate to get back to see Leonie, as he was missing her so much he set off early one morning for the long drive home from Scotland. He crashed his car pretty spectacularly and ended up overhanging the side of a big bridge. Patrick said, “I should have been dead.” Once he made it home, the shock manifested itself in a flu-like condition. Leonie said, “I went over to check that he was alright, that’s when I realized how much I loved him and that’s when we decided we wanted to get married.”

They married in October 1973 and had their reception in the family pub, despite a thunderstorm on the day, Patrick said “It was the best wedding I’ve ever seen, the people, the atmosphere, Leonie’s parents had made such an effort. There was so much food, food I had never even seen before.” Leonie was twenty-two, Patrick was twenty-seven, Leonie said “getting married when you’re younger is good, as you do so before you get set in your ways.

Patrick said “ I see things differently “If you marry too soon before you have really lived, then you don’t know yourself. In our day it was different, we hardly ever left the country, now people do much more with their lives before settling down. Making the decision to marry later now in these times might be more sensible.”

Despite being young and despite only having been together a short while, Leonie and Patrick really wanted to marry. Patrick said “I never wanted to get married, ever. I can’t put a word to it, something changed, I just wanted her to be mine. I remember after meeting her saying to my mum, I’ve found the girl I’m going marry”. For Leonie it wasn’t as instant, it grew, she said “He was someone that everyone loved, my mum liked him. Dad couldn’t get enough of him, and that was unusual for my dad as he didn’t normally like my boyfriends. He was very kind, loving and unafraid of showing his love and using romantic words.” Leonie explained that his drinking caused her hesitation at first and so he stopped drinking. Leonie said, “ I never told him to stop, he just saw that I didn’t like it.” Patrick joked “I think her father was upset that I gave up drinking, I was one of his best customers.”

Emmaleen: Can you share a loving story from your relationship?

Leonie: “Several years ago we tried to arrange a ceremony to renew our vows, for many reasons it just didn’t happen. Patrick had been asked to make a portable altar table to be used by a church for a retreat. The church knew of the aborted wedding blessing and ended up organizing a ceremony for us to take place at the altar that Patrick had made. It was a complete surprise. They told us that it was a dedication ceremony when we got there were several priests and people from church to watch us renew our vowels. It was really lovely.

What is the key to a happy relationship?

Leonie: No one is perfect; it’s about not being afraid to say sorry. Be forgiving, and there’s no point in holding a grudge. It’s about enjoying each other. Friendship is important too, having good friendships with others, as seeing what your partner is like outside of the house is good, you get conversation and laughter that you don’t get when it’s just you two, you get to see a different side to them.

Patrick: Laughter is so important. Life goes too fast; one minute it’s Saturday, the next minute it’s Saturday again, you need to enjoy it, you need to enjoy life.

What is love?

Leonie: Love is not thinking about yourself, it’s consideration of the other person’s feelings. It’s about not giving up.

Patrick: “There is no magic recipe; it is sacrificing oneself for another. Its tolerance, no one will ever get on one hundred percent of the time, it’s about not leaving at the first disagreement.

What advice do you have for someone looking for love?

Patrick: “Don’t go out there looking for a type, it is the whole being that’s important. Leonie was different to any girl I had ever been out with. It is the whole package that’s important”.

Leonie: “You just don’t know when you’re going to meet them, I had no idea he would walk into my life that night. Give up looking, let love find you.”

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