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mailife - - Contents - In­ter­view by NANISE VOLAU Pho­tos by JOVI LIGANIVAI & ETHELL RAWLINSON

Dunn Deal

Anne Dunn Baleile­vuka, for­mer Miss South Pa­cific Pageant win­ner and our COP 23 Youth rep in Bonn, speak­ing about her mar­riage.

1. HOW DID YOU MEET?

At USP in 2011, a mu­tual friend, Natalie Raikadroka, in­tro­duced us to each other. I took law classes with Natalie and she’s like a sis­ter to him from high school. I’m not sure if she thought we’d be cool just to all hang out to­gether or even if we’d date; but not long af­ter we start dat­ing, so I thank God for that sim­ple in­tro­duc­tion.

2. WHAT DID YOU FIRST THINK OF YOUR PART­NER?

He was/is such a funny guy! One of my first im­pres­sions was that he’s com­fort­able in his own skin. The year I met him was also my first year back in Fiji so my Amer­i­can ac­cent was re­ally thick, and peo­ple would as­sume I didn’t un­der­stand Fi­jian or feel the need to ex­plain ev­ery di­a­logue with­out ask­ing me if I un­der­stood it in the first place. On the other hand Rusi just went on speak­ing Fi­jian to me and then later asked if I ac­tu­ally un­der­stood what he was even say­ing. Thank­fully, I did. That spoke vol­umes to me.

3. HOW DID YOU START DAT­ING?

He asked me to be his girl­friend the night he won the USP tal­ent show in 2011. He was al­ready on a win­ning streak, how was I to say no?

4. HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR PART­NER WAS THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU?

We dated for about two years or so be­fore we broke up and went our sep­a­rate ways. Dur­ing the break up, which lasted a lit­tle over a year, I learned a few things about re­la­tion­ships, what it all meant, and my­self. One of the things that spoke vol­umes to me was the pur­pose of a re­la­tion­ship, which for me would re­sult in mar­riage. From when I was a child, I had al­ways as­sumed that mar­riage is some­thing that’s just sup­posed to hap­pen: you go to school, get a good job, get a house, get a car, and get mar­ried. I never ques­tioned it, never sat back and thought, why get mar­ried? Un­til I did and I re­alised I was ask­ing the wrong ques­tion, it was rather “what is the pur­pose of mar­riage?” and I be­lieve the pur­pose is to re­flect a love that no other re­la­tion­ship could. The re­la­tion­ship of a child and a par­ent, the re­la­tion­ship of two best friends, the re­la­tion­ship of an em­ployer and an em­ployee, the list goes on…are all im­por­tant and good but none can com­pare to that of a hus­band

and his wife. I knew Rusi was the right one for me when I re­alised that if I be­lieve that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween hus­band and wife is the only one that could re­flect the re­la­tion­ship of God and his church then it was worth pur­su­ing. I don’t mean this to make it re­li­gious but I knew Rusi was the one for me when I found my­self pray­ing for and about the man with whom I wasn’t even in a re­la­tion­ship any­more. It could only take God to bring it back to­gether and make it work.

5. TELL ME THREE THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR PART­NER?

a. He’s pas­sion­ate: Whether it’s work, fam­ily or this mar­riage, he’s pas­sion­ate in the sense that he’ll give his time and all his at­ten­tion to who and what he loves. b. His per­son­al­ity: He’s funny, fear­less and re­lat­able…and much more. c. He’s per­sis­tent: The say­ing “if you get knocked down, you get back up and try again” has never been so real to me than through my hus­band.

6. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PART­NER’S QUIRKS?

He’s con­stantly tak­ing pic­tures and videos; the sub­tle smirk he gives when he wants some­thing; and he’s al­ways hot, even if it’s chilly out­side.

7. WHAT ARE THINGS ABOUT YOUR PART­NER THAT DRIVES YOU A LIT­TLE CRAZY — THINGS THAT ONLY YOU COULD LOVE?

The fact that he takes pic­tures and videos of ev­ery­thing any­time and the way he fo­cuses on only one thing at a time un­til it’s ac­com­plished well. I guess that might be a male thing but I love it and hate it at the same time.

8. HOW DID THE PRO­POSAL HAP­PEN?

On 9 Septem­ber 2016, Rusi and his un­cles came to my late fa­ther’s house where my dad, my un­cles, and rel­a­tives waited for them to do the lakovi. It’s a Fi­jian tra­di­tional cer­e­mony that I’m glad my fa­ther was alive to wit­ness done to his only daugh­ter. That same evening he dropped me back to my apart­ment where he got on one knee and pro­posed to me in the com­fort of my own place.

9. NAME THREE MEM­O­RABLE EX­PE­RI­ENCES YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH TO­GETHER AS A COU­PLE.

a. Beauty pageant fes­ti­vals: One of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life and hav­ing his full sup­port and en­thu­si­asm was def­i­nitely one of the rea­sons I en­joyed the pageant jour­ney so much. b. My fa­ther’s pass­ing: Ob­vi­ously not the best time for any daugh­ter but I think go­ing through this time with him re­vealed a lot about how much he cared for and re­spected my dad and my fam­ily. c. Syd­ney 2017: Last Christ­mas/New year was the first time we trav­eled out of the coun­try to­gether and we learned so much about each other and our trav­el­ing habits and had one of the best hol­i­days yet.

10. HOW WOULD YOU DE­SCRIBE THE DYNAMIC OF YOUR RE­LA­TION­SHIP? HOW WOULD OTH­ERS DE­SCRIBE IT?

Com­pli­men­tary and amp; evolv­ing, I’m con­stantly chal­lenged to grow in what and who I am and what and who I could be­come through this re­la­tion­ship. And I hope to be do­ing the same for him. We’re def­i­nitely from two dif­fer­ent worlds and so we com­pli­ment each other’s strengths and weak­nesses well (I hope). I reckon oth­ers would de­scribe it the same, from the off­set, we seem very dif­fer­ent from each other so our dif­fer­ences are what com­pli­ment the other.

11. WHAT VAL­UES ARE IM­POR­TANT TO YOU AS A COU­PLE?

a. Re­la­tion­ship with God: In­di­vid­u­ally as well as to­gether as a unit. Hav­ing our own per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with God is def­i­nitely the key bedrock foun­da­tion of this re­la­tion­ship be­cause no mat­ter how much we can go at it with each other if it’s not right with the Cre­ator of the re­la­tion­ship in the first place then it’s not go­ing to be right

be­tween the two of us. b. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: We have to put in the work for this one but com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a valu­able key to us as a cou­ple be­cause there’s no point in mak­ing de­ci­sions and look­ing good “for the gram” so to speak if we’re not even com­mu­ni­cat­ing well be­hind closed doors. c. Re­spect: It’s not just about mu­tual re­spect (that’s a given) but just the sim­plic­ity of re­spect­ing bound­aries with other peo­ple and re­spect­ing each other be­hind closed doors and not just in pub­lic.

12. IF YOU WERE LOOK­ING BACK IN

twenty years, what would you want to re­mem­ber about your life right now? That I tried. Whether it’s 20 years, five years or even a year from now, I never want to look back and won­der “what if?” or “if only…” I’d want to look back and know deep in my soul, that I didn’t shy away from at least try­ing.

13. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES IN FIVE YEARS? WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOK­ING FOR­WARD TO IN YOUR FU­TURE AS A COU­PLE?

In five years, pur­su­ing life to­gether wher­ever God has us. The fu­ture it­self is what we’re most look­ing for­ward to. Ob­vi­ously, we want the kids, the house, the jobs and all of those good things but as long as we’re do­ing what God has called us to do, where he has called us to, then we’re good. We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced so many good and great things this year as a cou­ple and we’re just ex­cited for what God has in store for the fu­ture. Most peo­ple ques­tion why get mar­ried and set­tle down; but for us, we got mar­ried and are just get­ting started with this jour­ney. That’s not to say it’ll all be smooth sail­ing but we’ve seen and tasted God’s faith­ful­ness for the past seven years of this friend­ship, and while we’re not even a year into this mar­riage, we can’t deny the fact that we be­lieve in the God about whom it is writ­ten “He is faith­ful”.I’m grate­ful that a sim­ple in­tro­duc­tion at Uni­ver­sity led to a wed­ding. I re­alise we’re ba­bies in this mar­ried life but I’m grate­ful for the peo­ple around us that il­lus­trate what a God-fear­ing mar­ried cou­ple can ac­com­plish. It’s not easy and I didn’t mean to an­swer the ques­tions above as if our re­la­tion­ship is per­fect or that we have it all fig­ured out, but any­thing worth­while is al­ways go­ing to take putting in the work, this mar­riage is no dif­fer­ent. I get to do life with my best friend and I have the priv­i­lege of also call­ing him my hus­band. It’s worth it.

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