On the 25th of November 2017, in the heat of the South African summer, I was in complete ecstasy and completely exhausted and relieved that the year was finally over. That day will forever be engraved in my mind. 2017 was probably one of the most challenging years I have ever experienced.
D’Niel and I married just after handing over my Miss World crown in 2016. We planned to work, travel, and take over the world together. About a month after we married, I unexpectedly fell pregnant, and our plans inevitably changed overnight. However, in 2017 I was back at medical school and gave birth to our firstborn son in January, and my husband was working and living in Stellenbosch; therefore, I had to face and set out on the journey of being a parent all by myself. I don’t want to go into too much detail…
On the 25th of November 2017, after a six-year long-distance relationship, surviving Miss South Africa, Miss World, and medicine, the three of us, D’Niel, our beautiful son, and I, approached the 939.3 km road from Bloemfontein to Paarl. We were finally on our way to our first home together as a family! We spread our journey to our new home over two days and overnighted in Beaufort West for the sake of our ten-month-old son. Tears filled my eyes, and gratitude filled my heart when I realised I could, for the first time, pack all of our dirty clothes into one suitcase!
It wasn’t long after we moved into our home when D’Niel and I realised how important it would become to set out time to be alone, to bond and talk about the meaningful things in life. Unlike some couples, we knew we did not have a couple of years together alone in marriage before the two of us became three. Amidst being newlyweds, trying to make our first house a home, raising our son, and starting new businesses, we had to work particularly hard on getting to know one another inside out.
This hard work has continued throughout our marriage because life still happens even though we try to truly connect. Sometimes, at the end of the week, we realise that we’ve barely spoken about the things like our feelings, fears, and the future. At times, we only get to say “good morning” and “goodnight” for a few consecutive days. Can you relate?
I came across an author and book that opened my eyes to new and profound ways of honouring each other in marriage. The book is called Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr Emerson Eggerichs. This book helps you discover the greatest secret to a successful marriage. It reveals why spouses react negatively to each other and how they can quickly, easily and biblically deal with conflict.
A short description of Love & Respect: “Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It’s the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, yet few couples ever find. While both men and women deserve love and respect, amid conflict, the driving need for a woman is love and the driving need for a man is respect. When either of these needs isn’t met, things get crazy.”
Using the principles I’ve discovered in Love & Respect, I’ve witnessed that a few thoughtful and relatively effortless activities can spark and reinforce old connections. Quality time alone can bring back that “Oh my goodness, I’m glad you’re my best friend” feeling.
Here are a few fun activities you and your partner can do to rekindle that bond for the next 5 days:
On a piece of paper, write down 3 things you respect or love about the other person and hide it somewhere they will find them during the day. Ladies, it would be great to write three things you respect about your husband. Men, write down three things you love about your wife.
Be cautious of your tone of voice. Before saying anything to your partner today, reconsider how you will be coming across. Loving and respectful? Or are you filled with resentment and disrespect? Here is the tricky part; it doesn’t matter who seems wrong or right; your reaction remains your responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and words toward your partner today.
Complete the couples-bonding-quiz today by taking the time to ask and answer the following 7 questions:
Share your favourite childhood memory.
What are you afraid of?
What is your idea of a healthy relationship?
What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see us 6 months from now?
What kind of person do you want to be tomorrow?
What was the first thought you had about me when we met?
Decide to show love and respect intentionally. Women, do one thing that feels respectful to your husband. Men, do one thing that feels loving to your wife.
PS: Book about 60 minutes in your schedule for tomorrow’s activity. You are welcome to arrange a date night out or at home.
During the 60 minutes you set out to spend together today, share your main 3 goals for the next 6 months with each other. Discuss how these goals could influence one another, pray about it together and choose how you will be supporting one another in these goals.
Ek en my man het jou 5 Dag challenge gedoen. Eintlik net tot op Dag 3 gekom en dit het toevallig op ons huweliksherdenking geval. Dit was een van ons lekkerste dates ooit gewees! Ons het opad soontoe gesê dat ons niks oor ons baba mag gesels daardie aand en dit was soveel makilker as wat ons verwag het, want ons het so lekker gesels oor daardie 7 vrae. En sommer na 10 jaar se saamwees en 5 jaar getroud wees het ons vrek baie van mekaar geleer. Ons doen uiteindelik vandag Dag 4 en more Dag 5.
Dankie dat jy dit gedeel het!
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So often I would read your posts of see your videos- especially when it is about the years of your long distance relationship and (virtually) nudge my partner in the ribs…
Long distance is extremely hard on a relationship, and we still have another 8years to go!
I find it helpful to hear about other people’s journeys in this regard… maybe you would be willing to go as far as design some programs for these unique situations too?
Much love C
Thank you for being such a inspiration!
Thanks for sharing your life, family start.
It sure takes a while to adapt our lives when we ‘join’ lives on average it takes about 18 months to 2 years for these adaptations to take place. (similar to a trauma in our lives such as a death, divorce or an disabling accident) No wonder young couples have a hectic start, with a baby on the way and getting married and still making ends meet in the first years of marriage. As I’ve mentioned to you the 1st child is born into a ‘MARRIAGE’ and the following into a family and more ‘sommer so innie bonnel’
It’s difficult for us men to accept that we are still the ‘most important person’ but of a lessor priority when baby or babies arrive.
Happy to say we will be celebrating our 40th Wedding anniversary this year in September. Not withstanding that there were times of wanting to give up, difficult times when business went really bad and the sheriff came to attach some of our hard earned goods. (Stupid young mistakes that could have been avoided instead of being hard headed and ‘tough’)
It is easier to fight the ‘WOLVES AT THE DOOR’ together than to have trouble at home and at work!
As ‘hongersnood by die voor deur inloop, LOOP LIEFDE BY DIE AGTER DEUR UIT!’
IV’E HAD TO LEARN THAT NO MATTER HOW BAD THINGS ARE, trust is paramount!
We agreed even before we decided to get married that GOD is a given, then we are each others partner, then or children’s parents, an employee or employer, then our friends friends.
Learned that when you lose ‘things’ perhaps everything all you have is YOUR FAMILY!
Very valuable tips and points to consider.
I heard of a couple that were asked how they managed to stay together for 60 years, and the reply came that they were to make a list of 10 things that each one was allowed to do and ‘get away with’ and this helped them.
When asked what was written on the list, the reply came ‘we never made the list!’
How then did this work?
Once again the reply came from both, LUCKY FOR YOU THATS ONE OF THE 10!
Have a great day!
Dankie Rolene! Mal hieroor. Eenvoudig, tot die punt en met impak.
Ek en my man gaan sommer vandag wegspring! Ons love ons dates (gewoonlik n sneaky koffie date deur die dag) en dis juis dan wat mens besef HOE belangrik dit is, soos jy sê. Om te connect. Dink baie huwelike connect net nie, of mense weet nie hoe om te connect nie, so baie dankie vir jou input, gehoorsaamheid en liefde in dit wat jy en julle doen.
❤️ Erin Nel
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