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.