Dr. Dennis Erasmus and his wife Antoinette tied the knot in their 20s. Forty years later, the two are still happily married.
Blessed with four children and having worked together as full-time pastors of the Apostolic Faith Mission for almost all their lives, the two strongly believe that marriage is to be enjoyed. But just like any other marriage, they have faced challenges. One of the biggest was losing their first-born child just a few hours after birth.
But despite the challenges, the two have managed to remain happily married for 42 years and are passionate about helping other couples to build happy marriages.
And just what did it take for them to stay happily married for so long? They shared their tips with us.
Working as a team
One of the challenges we have seen when counselling many couples is that couples often compete in marriage. What has worked for us is working as a team, and celebrating each other’s gifts. Instead of competing, we believe in encouraging each other to excel and in helping each other become greater. We believe in the saying ‘love is a game that two can play and both win’.
Some people believe the man is the head of the wife or the home, but we believe in equality. For us it’s about who is gifted in which area. For instance, if the woman is gifted when it comes to the finances, let her handle the finances, and if the man is gifted in cooking, there is also nothing wrong with him cooking. There should not be just one person who heads everything and dictates who must do what. Marriage is about partnership and agreement. The most important thing is for couples to agree and share responsibilities according to their gifts, not gender.
We don’t believe in losing yourself in marriage, but we believe that sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things you like that might not necessarily be beneficial to the marriage.
100% dedication to one another
One of the things we have learned in marriage is that you have to be dedicated to each other; dedicated to making your marriage work and to loving the person you chose to be with.
Saying "I love you"
It’s important to always say “I love you”, “I appreciate you”, “I love being with you”. Saying these words is not just a ritual, but affirms your love for each other.
Having ‘us’ time
Life can get so hectic that we can sometimes struggle to have time to do all that we want to do, but over the years we have made sure that we schedule our private time. This time is so important to us that we even have it jotted down in our diaries. When our kids were small, we would ask a relative or a friend to babysit for us, while we would take this time to go catch a movie, go to the park for a walk, or whatever fun activity we felt like doing. We used this time to bond.
Understanding body language
It’s very important to understand your partner’s body language. We have noticed that sometimes your partner can say s/he is fine, but their body language could be communicating a different message. Even taking note of the body language when you talk about certain issues can show you how they really feel about the matter. But we have also noticed that this comes with time. You may not be able to read their body language from the beginning of the marriage, but as time goes on, you will.
Choosing to see the good in your spouse
It is so easy to see the bad in your spouse and to concentrate on their shortfalls and weaknesses, but in order to have a happy and good marriage, it’s important for each of you to see the good in the other and to concentrate on the good qualities.
Do not bad-mouth your spouse
Besides choosing to see the good in your spouse, choose to never bad-mouth your partner in public or to others.
Make a decision to enjoy your marriage
Lastly, we strongly believe that enjoying marriage is a conscious decision that a couple needs to make.
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