Secrets of the successfully married

By Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat Time of article published Feb 14, 2012

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For Valentine’s Day, South African celebrities share their top tips for wedded bliss...

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Leah have been married for 56 years.

“Besides caring for the other, honesty, respect and faithfulness – essential elements for any meaningful relationship – I would say there are three secret ingredients behind my enduring love affair with Leah.

“The first is encapsulated in the notice she has put on the mantelpiece proclaiming, ‘You are entitled to your wrong opinion’. It is about tolerating one another, even when you don’t always agree.

“Leah’s tolerance of me is definitely part of the glue that holds us together.

“The second is humour, the ability to laugh with each other and at ourselves. Humour and humanity are closely interlinked.

“Last but not least is the desire to affirm one another, to be romantic, to show concern, to open car doors, to pay compliments: You look smashing in that outfit, Wow! I love you!”

Showbiz duo Des and Dawn Lindberg have been married for 47 years.

“Contrary to what people might think, I am convinced our marriage kept our careers going and the fact that we shared our work kept our marriage together.

“We didn’t have time to contemplate divorce.

“We were too busy planning our next tour or production.

“Our focus was also on our family.

“We worked from home, so we were always on hand to help the kids with homework, and when they were small, we took them with us wherever we went.

“The family unit is and always was paramount.

“Here’s the secret formula: passion, compassion, hard work, and, above all, a sense of humour.

“Being married to volatile Des, I did need a sense of humour.

Des says: ‘Being married to dynamic Dawn, I had to develop one, or else!’

“P.S. We still hold hands at the movies.”

Yvonne Chaka Chaka and her husband Doctor Tiny Mhinga have been married for 23 years

“I don’t know if there’s a recipe for marriage.

“It’s a work in progress.

“Obviously if there are kids and extended family involved, you’ve got to look at those things.

“But at the end of the day it’s all about you.

“It’s all about love, respect, understanding, tolerating and respecting each other’s views.

“With me what you see is what you get.

“I don’t pretend to be someone else.

“You also can’t just go and want to change somebody.”

Iain MacDonald, artistic director of the South African Ballet Theatre, and Karen Beukes, one of SA’s best-loved ballerinas, married 11 years ago.

“We both love God more than ourselves and each other.

“Our shared faith in God keeps us united and is the most important aspect of our relationship.

“We also strongly believe in maintaining our friendship, have enormous respect for each other and laugh a lot together.

“We share the same sense of humour.”

Actor Jack Devnarain and wife Pam have been married for 17 years.

“You need to make sure that each of you grow as individuals within the relationship.

“I think for some people the big problem stems from the fact that they think they know everything there is to know about their partners.

“But I don’t think that’s true.

“As long as two people grow in a relationship there’s always something to discover.

“That is part of the adventure and what keeps the passion and spark alive.

“It’s essential in maintaining a marriage.”

Boxer Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala and his wife Mapule have been married for 21 years.

“She’s the love of my life, and we have two boys.

“My wife and I started dating in the 80s. We were friends first, then lovers and then we got married.

“The key thing in a marriage is communication and trusting one another. We respect and support each other. In the business I don’t shut her out.

“We’re involved in each other’s lives and also give each other space. At home we agree to disagree.

“It’s important to have a powerful woman to support you and you being behind her. Couples are made that way. I enjoy my marriage.

“It’s a difficult process but you work at it.”

Stoned Cherrie founder Nkhensani Nkosi and husband Zam Nkosi, a TV personality and production executive, have been together for 17 years but married for eight.

“I would attribute the strength of our marriage to a deep spiritual bond which is strengthened by the shared principles of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.

“We have known each other for years and have an unconditional acceptance of ourselves and each other. Although we are both consistently finding ways to improve ourselves, we never try to change each other. It also does not hurt that my husband is easy on the eye – nudge, nudge, wink wink.”

Actress Bonnie (nee Mbuli) and actor Sisanda Henna have been married for seven years.

“We share the same values. We have a commonality in our faith which is half the job done. It’s the platform on which we solve our issues. We know that forgiveness is key, holding a grudge poisons a marriage, and staying angry with one another is not allowed.

“Vulnerability towards each other is also important. The other person is on our side, so we don’t try to protect ourselves from them, and can express when we are feeling sad, needy or anxious.

“We set aside specific times to go out on dates, like going bowling, taking a walk or going to movies.

“If we don’t schedule it, it’s not going to happen.

Actress Vinette Ebrahim and her life partner actor Ivan D Lucas have been together for 20 years.

“It’s not always easy because we’re both very passionate people.

“But I think our secret is saying how you feel when you’re feeling it.

“Also, don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it. Don’t be afraid, too, of being a bit silly at times with each other as well, even when you’re 50-plus. Part of being in a relationship is that we take ourselves so seriously that we forget about the lovely things, especially as we get older.

“We forget the silliness that used to be attractive.

“Be that silly sometimes and don’t always be so serious.

“For our anniversary this year, we’re going to the Sting concert.” - The Star

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