DAY OF love KEEP THE SPARK ALIVE
Ntombizodwa Makhoba and Palesa Morei asked some of the country’s cutest couples about their secret to long and happy marriages
Retired Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana player Jabu Mahlangu’s 11-year marriage, which has borne three children, has been sorely tested. He’s the first to admit he was standing in the way of their happily-ever-after.
“I was busy with the outside world – indulging in booze, drugs and girls – not realising that my marriage was falling apart. But my woman was always there for me,” he says.
Jabu says at one point he didn’t even look into his wife’s eyes because of the things he had done.
“I remember telling her to file for a divorce – not because I didn’t love her any more ... I just felt she deserved to be with a better person, who would respect her,” says the man who still becomes emotional when he thinks of that time.
“When I told her that, she couldn’t say a word; she just looked me in the eye. We started praying and crying together. I will never forget that.”
When his career crashed and his life spiralled out of control, Jabu lost everything, including his cars and house in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia. Thwana was all he had left.
“We had to stay at my wife’s parents’ house. Everyone was laughing at us, but Thwana kept telling me everything would be fine.”
Jabu says honesty, trust and prayer have kept them going.
“Our marriage is getting stronger each and every day,” says Jabu, who has been drug- and booze-free for almost three years.
He is also a born-again Christian, and acknowledges his wife for this too.
Jabu’s advice for young husbands is: “Always tell your wife you love her and how beautiful she is. Tell her every day. If you don’t, another man will.”
Today, Jabu has made plans to spend Valentine’s Day together.
“We are going out for dinner and maybe a spa treatment. This will also give us an opportunity to reflect on our marriage and talk about our future plans.”
Popular celebrity designer Gert-Johan Coetzee tied the knot with his childhood sweetheart, Vicky Visagie, two years ago.
Only family and close friends witnessed their intimate, chic wedding at a safari lodge in North West.
Coetzee – who designed the knockout yellow dress Public Protector Thuli Madonsela wore to the opening of Parliament this week, and who regularly dresses celebrities such as TV darling Bonang Matheba – was 17 when he and his man met through mutual friends in Klerksdorp. Eleven years later, they are still going strong.
Their secret to a long-lasting and happy marriage is “great communication and working every day to help each other to be the best version of themselves”.
To keep the marriage fires burning, they’re always trying out new things together.
“Even though we work together and we also spend a lot of time in the same space every day, it is important for us to have a regular romantic date night,” Coetzee says.
Visagie, a software developer, is also Coetzee’s design house brand manager.
Both believe that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated every day.
“For any couple, it should be an everyday event, but it’s nice that on Valentine’s Day we set time aside and actually celebrate the day and the romance around it,” says Visagie.
“This year’s Valentine’s Day will definitely be centred on our renovations.
“We’ve been renovating the house for two years and we’re busy with the bedroom, so something very special will come out of that this year,” Coetzee says.
His best Valentine’s Day gift, Coetzee says, was a painting by his favourite artist, Belgianborn painter Frans Claerhout.
After 13 years of marriage, Connie Ferguson, who plays Karabo in Generations, and her husband, Shona, still buy each other gifts. It helps to keep the spark alive, she says.
“We’re a couple that really doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. But between the busy schedule that we have, we are probably going to do a spur-of-themoment thing. “I haven’t really given it a thought,” says Connie. She adds that since they work all week, they spend most of their weekends together. “We spend our quality time together with no work involved. That’s when we can catch up.”
Although Valentine’s Day isn’t that significant for them, birthdays are very important. They also buy each other little gifts throughout the year.
“Whenever he goes shopping or when I go shopping, since I know what he would like, I’d probably get him something. We always tell each other daily that we love each other.” They love the same things too. And the secret to their long and happy marriage is “the deep-rooted love we have for each other”.
“Marriage is also about respect. That’s what has carried Shona and I,” she says.
Connie believes that Valentine’s Day is not about spending a lot of money on your significant other. “It is also about understanding what they love. “Valentine’s Day is about doing something meaningful with the one you love, rather than expensive gifts, especially with kids involved and other expenses. “Shona buys me gifts all the time. “I can’t really pinpoint which one is specifically for Valentine’s Day or birthdays.”
Jabu and Thwana Mahlangu
Connie and Shona Ferguson
Vicky Visagie and Gert-Johan Coetzee