When I decided on this “celebrating love” series, I knew that I wanted to feature couples who were inspirational. Who were raw. Who were real. I also love hearing both sides of the love story, so you can imagine my joy when Simone told me that they had decided to each write their own responses to my questions!
So without any further ado, here we go:
Tell me your love story – how did you two meet? What was the road you walked to marriage?
I was friends with his sister. He was a teacher. He was perfection. Pure. A-student, introvert, perfectionist and waiting-on-his-future-wife type of young man. I was the gypsy, free-spirited, loud, extrovert, with more ex-boyfriends on my resume than I had fingers (and perhaps even toes!). So obviously he way out of my league.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; I totally fancied this man, but knew that he would never be interested in a girl like me. I was convinced he was looking for a pure, typical pastor’s wife-type, submissive and quiet.
(Just shows how wrong our assumptions can be!)
We became friends as I was over at their house so often. We would spend hours talking about absolutely everything under the sun. And when he finally took me for a coffee – just the two of us – I still did not suspect he actually liked me. In my naiveness, our coffee dates became a regular thing. We would change our plans in order to keep our Tuesday coffee dates. Until one coffee date he was nervous and finally told me that he had been praying about our friendship-turned-relationship, and that he feels I am the woman he is going to marry.
And yes, I also had a boyfriend at that time. So I politely turned him down. But I loved spending time with him and wanted to keep this beautiful friendship we had. Meanwhile, this man also decided that if he can steal me away from my current boyfriend, I can also be stolen. So he backed off. He was such a gentleman that even after I split up with my boyfriend and called him immediately, he responded with “It still doesn’t change anything between us.”
I was like, “What?! But you said…”
But he wanted to make sure my heart was 100% only his, not just a rebound and wouldn’t settle for anything else.
It was only months later that we decided to take that step and become official. And I kid you not – he made an appointment with my parents and asked their permission to court me! Dating, but with the intention of making me his wife.
Almost four years later, a small separation time while he was working overseas, and we got married on a rainy June morning, and have been (95%) happily married for almost 14 years!
I remember a simpler time, a time when I was still young and free and on my own. I thought I was happy, having everything I needed. However, it was an unexpected friendship that caught my eye; my heart and turned my life up-side down. The friendship with Simone came unexpected. The more we shared our hopes, dreams and preferred future, the closer and deeper our relationship grew.
When we decided to start a relationship we purposefully chose to put certain boundaries in place. We purposed to be a role model in every arena of our lives. Whether at school, at our church’s youth group, work life and amongst family, we wanted to demonstrate a different type of relationship that would inspire others to do the same.
Everything went well for about 3 years before I made a decision to work abroad. We naively thought our relationship would survive the distance and lack of communication (pre-Whatsapp and pre-Facebook era). Through the season of hardships our perspective of attaining a “perfect story” was like a rug that was pulled from under us. We had to work hard on (re)building trust, kindness, and forgiveness. A relationship is only as strong as its weakest point. It was persevering this storm together, and coming out on the other side, that proved that our relationship had what was needed to last forever.
Every phase of our relationship, whether it was the initial courtship, blossoming as role-models, a season of separation, rebuilding trust and forgiveness, or the decision to unite as one as a married couple and the subsequent building a family, taught me a vast amount of life-lessons and an appreciation of the fullness of life. Simone is my best friend, confidant and the one I choose to share my life with. Each day; every day; forever.
What drew you to each other? What do you love about each other? And what annoys you about each other?
What do I love about him? Oh so much! He is almost the exact opposite of me, and I truly would not have that any other way. We balance each other out. He saves his chocolate, I eat his chocolate. He makes the money, I spend the money! Jokes, jokes! But in all seriousness, I love that he brings structure to my crazy mindset and lifestyle. I love that he is passionate about leadership and lives to bring excellence to all he does. I love how he loves me, and our children. And how he purposefully puts us first in everything he does. He is way considerate. I love how good he is with money, how he needs me when he is sick, and how he encourages me to do what makes me happy.
Don’t you worry that it is always sunshine and roses, because he can really annoy me as well. He never knows where the medicine is, or how much to give the kids (I also just read the bottle, come on!), he takes forever to make a decision (because he is thoroughly researching each option) and he spends waaaaay too much time in the bathroom!
My first response is “Her creativity”. But more than that, I think it’s her “out-of-the-box” mentality, the way she sees the world. Challenging the norm. I love her honesty. Whether I want to hear it or not. She is genuine. You always know where you stand with her. I love that she makes everything an event, and that she always puts aside dedicated time for friends and family – her close ones.
I’ll be honest, she can also be a little annoying at times. She constantly interrupts me. (Even while I was typing this!) Sometimes she can be a little too honest – sharing too much information. But even with all her quirks, I would choose her a thousand times over again.
You guys have been through so much together. What are your tips for a successful relationship/marriage?
Simone & Juan:
A woman needs to be loved. A man needs to be respected. The more respected he feels in a relationship, he more loving he is towards his wife. The more loved she feels, the more respectful she acts towards him. And so the cycle continues. But the reverse is also true. And that is the terrible cycle we hope to stop in so many marriages around us.
When I am disrespectful towards my husband – maybe even in a joking way in front of our friends at a braai – he will unknowingly respond unlovingly towards me. And when I feel unloved, I react with disrespect.
And so the downward spiral continues.
So many couples have told us, “But I am always the one to apologize first, or the one who has to give in and try and make it better. Why always me?”
It’s hard to not think about it that way. Because we get tired. But think about it as when we were kids and would make a current in the swimming pool. When you do it on your own, it doesn’t have much effect.
If someone joins you, the water begins to move with you and create a vortex. Eventually the water will carry you around and around in the pool, without you even trying. Even when you try to stop, it takes all your energy to stop the force that pushes you to go with the flow. But convince one person to stop this cycle, and push through the current in the opposite direction, and you can bring it to a complete stop.
This is our hope for your marriage. That when you see him being short with you and irritable, you would genuinely be able to ask him what you have done that might have come across as disrespectful. That he can stop your attitude by going against the stream and asking you what is making you feel unloved. Break that cycle. Shower him with respect. Repeat with loving kindness towards her. Sometimes the cycle can be stopped immediately. Other times it might take a few tries. But we promise you, keep doing it. It will turn. And your marriage will thrive because of it.
There you have it folks; I have been married for 18 years this year and I’m going to be quite honest and say that I had never thought about the cycle of respect and love in the manner that Simone and Juan have so eloquently put it. Food for thought, eh?
Simone is a follower of Christ, mama to 4, wife to 1, friend to many, homeschooler, entrepreneur and blogger (just to name a few of her titles). She blogs about the joys and experience of living life as a large family, covering all aspects from finances to intimacy and everything in between. She loves trying and experiencing new things. She says that her parents always encouraged her and her siblings to live outside the box, which as you can see is something that her husband loves about her – so I hope that she has thanked them properly!
And that’s it for now, please let us a comment and let us know what you think!
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