Relationships are hard; we all know that and I’m sure sometimes it feels as if we’re failing at it. This goes for all types of relationships; family, friends, and romance, even professional relationships but this post is about love with a significant other; romantic love. If you don’t know, I am a romantic and I won’t say ‘hopeless romantic’ because I have hope in love. I believe love is one of the most if not the most powerful source of hope we have on this earth but when it comes to romantic relationships, love can hurt sometimes.
I’ve been blessed to be married to someone who teaches and challenges me every day and one thing I’ve learned in the time that we’ve been together, is that compromise is key. If you’re going to love someone, you have to love them completely and unreservedly, with all their kinks and coils. You have to choose them every single day. Being in a relationship is work, a lot of work and communication should be the foundation on which you build that relationship.
In 2020 I asked a few couples to share their secrets with me on what makes their relationships work and although all the couples are married, I believe the advice they offer can be used by couples in any stage of their relationship but its important to take note of if you are planning on marrying the person you’re with.
I updated the number of years they were married.
EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE
ANTOINETTE AND DENNIS ERASMUS
MARRIED FOR 48 YEARS
Lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
From the start of our marriage, we adopted the philosophy of equality in which husband and wife are equals, submitting to each other in reference unto God who is the head of our family.
We both believe that God has given each one unique gifts for a purpose to live in harmony and to enjoy marriage. Each one’s gifts are for the benefit of the family and the community. Such a marriage creates a safe place for children to grow and develop to their full potential and again to live out their God-given gifts, and by doing so, we send them out as healthy adults.
LUCREZIA AND ALISTAIR FRAY
MARRIED FOR 36 YEARS
Lives in Midrand, South Africa.
We feel the following are our most important experiences for nurturing our relationship and making our marriage work:
* Have respect for one another.
* Constantly communicate. It allows us to express our feelings
* Making time for each other eg. Have regular date nights
* Understanding that marriage is about compromise
* Being supportive of each other as marriage is an equal partnership
A simple example is comparing a marriage to a garden. If we do not water the plants and take care of it, they will most likely die. It is the same with a marriage; we need to work at it to make it a success.
MAXINE AND CLAUDE PHEIFFER
MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS
Lives in Cape Town, South Africa
This is what works for us:
* We put God first
* Prioritise your time together
* Marriage is a partnership; it’s not a 50/50 partnership but 100% from both partners
* Have fun and take time to be silly and laugh together
* Make sure your marriage is your safe space for one another
* It also helps if you are best friends
* Make time for romance and regular date nights
* A little PDA also helps!
MARRIAGE IS SACRED
CANDICE AND PJ FLANAGAN
MARRIED FOR 16 YEARS
Lives in Midrand, South Africa
Our advice to young couples is to remember a few very important factors for a happy marriage;
* Be committed and faithful to your partner. Marriage is sacred and magical. Don’t destroy it with infidelity.
* Love your partner unconditionally with every flaw and fault. Nothing can make them feel more special than knowing that they are loved for who they are.
* Take time to listen to each other, whether it’s problems or just them telling you what they love and hate or had a bad day or a good day.
* Compromise. Marriage is about two people, not one person. You can’t always have what you want. It works both ways. It’s not always about you.
* Make time for each other. No matter how busy you are, always spend quality time together. Go to a movie or dinner or a favourite spot you like to hang out.
* Be their strength and hero and let them know that they can count on you. People in this world will always let you down, hurt you, and disappoint you. Assure your partner that you will always be there for them, no matter what.
* Put your partner first. They are special and important and should always come first.
* Respect and trust. Treat each other with respect. Don’t degrade or say hurtful meaningless words or bring your partner down.
* Be easy to forgive and forget. If your partner does something you don’t agree with, talk about it, work things out, and move forward. Don’t dwell on the past or keep reminding them about a past mistake. You cannot move forward in your marriage (or relationship) with unforgiveness.
* Don’t compare your marriage to other couples. Every marriage (or relationship) is different, beautiful, wonderful, and special. Rather look at the strengths your marriage has and how great you are together.
There will be problems. Marriage is not a bed of roses. Don’t take the easy way out and look for an exit. Talk about your problems. Voice your opinions, likes, dislikes, and work things out.
MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN
ROZANNE MCKENZIE AND CHRIS BISHOP
MARRIED FOR 10 YEARS
Lives in Weltevreden Park, South Africa
What’s worked for us over the years is to both have similar values. Chris and I met in our 20s and we have grown together as a couple over the years. Family is so important to us, but it is also good for us as a couple to spend time together, just us. We laugh and we enjoy each other’s company but we also argue and talk things out when we don’t agree. Our relationship is a safe space where we can be open and honest.
LEARN YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
BRITTNEY AND DIDIER CHABOT
MARRIED FOR 2 YEARS
Lives in Saskatchewan, Canada
After 7 years of living together we can say with certainty that the best advice we could give is as follows:
* Learn your partners love language- “ If your partner prefers words of affirmation or acts of service in lieu of gifts, you’ll not only save money but a lot of heartache over feeling unheard or unseen in your relationship. I prefer words of affirmation and he prefers acts of service. It took us a few years to figure it out but once we did, it was like a veil lifted and there was a whole new relationship under what we had previously built” -Brittney
* Give each other space to be your own person — “Do things you enjoy together, but also pursue hobbies and interests in your own time. Relationships should be the coming together of two whole people” — Brittney
* “She loves to hike and be outdoors while I much prefer to collect comics and play video games. She supports my gaming and befriended a few of my gamer buddies while I support her on her adventures by giving her the freedom to just go where her heart desires and we can both have new stories to tell each other and have downtime as individuals” — Didier
* Never stop laughing- “ Oh it drives me insane when I’m gearing up for a fight and he cracks a dumb joke or makes a silly face and I forget what I was mad about! It obviously is not that important if he can derail me with one bad dad joke” — Brittney
* Understand one another’s pasts but don’t use them against each other or use it to excuse away bad behaviours — “ His family communicated in a different way to mine and it caused a lot of friction for a few years in our own communication with one another until we both had a few discussions about what we needed and why/ how that need came to be. In doing so, we can now be empathetic towards each other and still hold one another accountable when we fall into bad patterns” — Brittney
* If you do something wrong or say something in anger, ALWAYS apologise as soon as you recognize it — “ Brittney has a quick temper and she knows it. When she gets irritable and snaps at me or aggressively folds clothes or puts away dishes, she always makes the effort to stop what she’s doing and apologise and explain why she’s frustrated or upset. Sometimes it’s because of something I did but often it’s got nothing to do with me and it helps us avoid arguments “ — Didier
MARRIAGE IS WORK
If you’ve read through all of these tips and advice from the various couples, you’ll notice there are three key things to take away here.
3) REMEMBERING THAT A MARRIAGE OR A RELATIONSHIP IS A PARTNERSHIP
Like I’ve said in the beginning of the post, this advice can work for any couple; whether you are married or if you are planning on getting married. If you have the intention of marrying your partner, sit down and talk to them and make sure you are both on the same page. Too many hearts have been broken because of conversations that were not spoken. In March, my husband and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary and I’ll forever be grateful to the people who offered their advice on this post.
Matthew 19:6: So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”