Once upon a time is actually a long story before myself and my beautiful wife Andrea had our fairytale wedding.
As a matter of fact, it spans across 14 years.
Travel back in time with me. The year is 1993. The new South Africa is a year away, and changes started to take place as three schools in the Germiston area merged to form Oosterkruin.
That is where I saw my future wife for the first time. We were 9 year olds on the school playground, and it was love at first sight! My friends all laughed at me when I made the bold statement: “That is the girl I’m going to marry one day.”
This is also where my quest began to win my true love’s heart.
There were chocolates, flowers and love letters… lots of love letters (we still have some of them today). Our smart phones were pen and paper, it was so much fun!
But I still had to convince the proverbial Ogre of my good intensions. A boy wanting to date his pretty daughter? Her dad would have none of that!
It wasn’t until 1997 when I managed to locate the tower where Andrea was trapped in. She was recovering from an opp and my fairy godmother-in-law allowed me into the lair for a few moments. The Ogre was sleeping in his chambers. (Lucky for me, he was working night shift.)
The valiant knight that I was, brought along some not-so-nice smelling flowers, but I guess it was the idea that counted at the time.
Satisfied that all was well with my damsel in distress, I rushed back to my ride before it turned back into a pumpkin.
Unfortunately my fairy godmother-in-law wasn’t impressed, and the day Andrea returned back to school, I was informed that we can’t be friends anymore.
Although I made sure that I went to the same high school as Andrea, I decided that I would carry on with my quest without her even knowing about it.
1998: Nothing happened;
1999 – 2000: The only thing that caused a bit of excitement was the Y2K bug;
This was a busy year for the world. The most noteworthy would be the tragedy of 9/11 and the excitement of the first season of Big Brother South Africa. But for me it was the year where God intervened and graced me with a miracle.
It was nothing fancy. In one of our classes I had an open seat next to me, Andrea came to sit next to me – Simple.
The miracle happened when I asked her for her number – and she gave it to me!
At that stage I had my trusty Nokia 3310 for a year and had accumulated about 1000 free minutes during that period.
Guess how long it took me to finish it?
Looking back at all of this I can truly say that:
“Love at first sight” does exist;
Winning my true love’s heart is a lot of fun;
The ogre and fairy godmother-in-law are now my friends;
And while I’m holding onto my true love’s heart, as we live our vows everyday, I’m on an endless quest to rescue my damzel in distress, because she wants to feel wanted, loved, desired and treasured. We all do.
God had a good idea when He invented marriage. In fact Genesis 1 says that “it was very good”.
The reason God invented marriage, is because Adam was lonely. And a couple of verses later – after the creation of Eve – this is where the author of Genesis defines marriage, “A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
We were blessed to receive our key to having a successful, happy marriage on our wedding day. The scripture the pastor quoted on that beautiful Thursday night was Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A rope can have three parts rather than one part. If it has three parts, it is difficult to break it.”
The colors of our cord is significant.
Gold Strand – Represents God
The divinity of God is represented in gold. Our marriage is initiated by Him, will be built under His authority, and is intended to glorify Him.
Royal Blue Strand – Represents the Groom
As a new creation in Christ, the majesty of the Groom is represented in royal blue. As the husband loves his wife and submits himself to the Lord, the Lord in turn will demonstrate his great love in the marriage relationship.
White Strand – Represents the Bride
Having been cleansed by salvation in Christ, the purity of the Bride is represented in white. As the wife honors her husband and submits herself to the Lord, the Lord in turn will nurture and strengthen the marriage relationship.
As I mention in my previous post LI+FE – Living Intimately For Eternity, a Godly foundation in our marriage and glorifying His name through our marriage are the keys to our success.
Sometime during 2018, myself and Andrea wondered what it would look like if we had to turn what we valued as a family into a logo. Little did we know that it would actually become our family crest:
Coffee Bean – For the love of coffee!
Miniature Pincher – Our three bundles of joy that share the bed with us.
Est 2007 – The year when we started living our vows everyday (thanks dad for coming up with that one).
Grapes – We have the privilege of enjoying exceptional wine in South Africa.
Three Braided Cord – God is the foundation of our marriage.
Per Unitatim, Vis – Through Unity, Strength.
These are all the things that we love, enjoy together and make our team unique, but what does being a team mean for us?
I could write volumes of the means and ways to a successful marriage, but I’m only covering the four essentials relating to us. They are Trust, Empathy, Acceptance and Mutual Growing. TEAM – Easy.
As God is the foundation of our marriage, Trust is the cement that holds everything together.
Time and again there are business trips, office lunches, seminars and other events that myself and Andrea attend without each other, but we’re transparent with one another, talking about the details and getting an understanding of what each event entails.
It means that we always assume the best in each other.
There are times when Andrea just wants to pore her heart out and all I need to do is hold her, but the important part is to listen.
It means I don’t necessarily need to give advice and try to fix it for her.
That is what Empathy is all about.
When I accept Andrea I’m able to say, “I love you just as you are. I don’t want to change anything about you as a person. Each of us has married a sinner, and we’re not perfect, but that is just fine with me. There is no part of her I would trade in for the world!”
When I can say those things, I’ve accepted my wife.
We were steadily dating for 3 years, engaged for another 3 and the year we turned 23 got married.
According to Statistics South Africa, marriages registered in 2008 compared to 2017 decreased with 27%. The median age of a bridegroom is between 30 – 34 and a bride is between 25 – 29.
Compared to the average millenial, we’re quite an exception. We have a decade’s head start in “becoming one body.”
In the early ears of our marriage the idea was that we were connecting “I- dentities,” but we soon came to realize that we were actually molding a “we-dentity. In mathematical terms it is closer to 2 / 2 = 1 than 1 + 1 = 2.
Finding our “we-dentity” was a journey of love, support and encouragement where we not only were able to pursue our own goals, but after a bit of trial and error we found the activities we enjoy together as well.
We made marriage the adventure of our young lives, and we’re better off for it!
The brain is a wonderful thing.
Now you might be thinking how do I get on the topic of the brain, but keep reading.
Some of the cells in the brain are called “mirror neurons.” As the name suggests, they help with mirroring an action, or imitation.
For example, we’re at the Sharks vs WP Curry Cup Final. The ball is passed to Pat Lambie where he runs straight into Eben Etsebeth, which carries him back three steps and puts him down!
The spectators react with a booming,”ugh!” Expressions of shock and pain on their faces, and when they replay it on the screen in slow-mo, you get a similar reaction from everyone.
That is because the brain doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. It is as if you’ve experienced it personally.
Mirror neurons react the same way in our relationships as they would in watching a game of rugby. So be mindful of the family, friends and colleagues that you spend the most time with, because your attitude, habits, even your mannerisms will stem from them.
For us family and friends still come and go, but we perpetually cultivate the relationships that help to mold, build and strengthen not only our “we-dentity,” but every aspect of our lives. As a result we don’t have a lot of friends, but we have realized that it is quality over quantity that determines the level of our success.
And they lived happily ever after.
Fairy tales make it sound so easy, but the truth is that “living happily ever after” is high maintenance.
The old adage goes, “what you sow you will reap.” A 21st century equivalent would be, “your returns will depend on what you have invested.”
And don’t think it is just a simple thing of pouring time and energy into your marriage. It all boils down to the choices we make:
What are you investing?
Selfishness? Neglect? Belittlement or impatience – will ultimitaley lead to indifference. Indifference says, “I don’t care enough to give you my time or energy,” and the two of you will never be what God intended you to be.
After God, Andrea and I are at the top of each other’s priority list and always choose to invest love into our marriage – Compassion, empathy, patience and prayer, which have paid incredible dividends through our years of marriage.
How much are you investing?
Do you know someone who’s stingy in their marriage? Not because they’re frugal, but because they live in fear?
The fear of giving more than they would receive, or that their spouse would take advantage of their kindness. You not only choose to control rather than to contribute, but you refuse to trust God with the outcome.
Different investments yeild different results at different times. Andrea and I don’t expect immediate returns from each other. We are faithful that God will always provide.
The benefits far outweigh the costs.
The main reason why a marriage performs poorly is because of a bad investment strategy i.e. Little, none or bad investment goes into the marriage.
I am proud to say that our marriage only goes from strength to strength, because Andrea and I invest lavishly and consistently into each other’s lives, and the returns have always been 10X, 30X, even 100 fold.
Did you like this post? Are you also marriage ambassadors? Please share with your family and friends, or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you! Blessings.