On love: The meaning of marriage

A personal Hasselblad portrait project by Reni

 

 

Reni: Did you guys talk about getting married?

Anneri: We didn’t really talk about it…

Dewald: Well, we kind of knew it was gonna happen. I knew that I wanted to… We went away to Cape Town, we went on a little road trip and then on the way home - it was on the 3rd of December - I decided I’m going to ask her to marry me. And then, we didn’t really talk about it, but we both kind of knew it was going to happen.

Anneri: We both knew the other one knew, but we didn’t talk about it. And then he just completely surprised me, which is really hard because I’m so curious, I always know when something is up and he completely surprised me. In fact, 100%, did not know a thing. Which is quite impressive.

 

Reni: I always find it very interesting when you first don’t know each other and then you meet each other and then you just decide that you spend the rest of your life together… that’s such an amazing thing.

Dewald: The crazy thing for me, what I always notice is you always have a perception of what you want in your head. You always, for me, from a youngish age, you kinda see characteristics in people that you like. I like someone who is artistic, I like someone who is well spoken, they look good after themselves, they’re beautiful. It’s not all characteristics, or they remind you of somebody you know, they remind you a little bit of a characteristic that your mom has or certain things that you like. And then someday, somehow – it’s actually quite amazing that something like that happens – then you meet somebody and all of a sudden they start ticking those boxes. Then you’re like, Okay this is quite interesting… yah I think that’s how our relationship initially started.

Anneri: So we did actually meet when I was 16. I was an exchange student to Finland. There was only one other South African that was also going to Finland, so we met up beforehand. Like 'what are you gonna pack, it’s Finnish winter, we’ve never seen snow'. And then we kinda became friends and when on the airport – so that’s his sister now –

Dewald: Yeah, I didn’t go to Finland.

Anneri: I met him, but I couldn’t even remember it, to be honest I was so excited like 'AAAHH let’s go!'.  A long story short, there were a lot of tiny things that would happen to him or his sister, which would come across my path. Like in the smallest and strangest ways that I actually told my mom. It’s so weird that someone, connected to them,  will have some meaning in my life because it’s just that you don’t get that amount of coincidence. Like we don’t have any of the same friends, we don’t have anything tying us together but they just came on popping up, one example was a guy who I dated previously, we used to go to Mozambique every year for Easter weekend. The one year I asked 'who’s going this year?' And my previous boyfriend said 'oh my sister is bringing a friend, but I haven’t met her yet'. When we got there it was Dewald's sister. You know, the strangest things… And when I had broken up with that boyfriend I told my mom that I was tired of breaking up with guys, didn't want to have a relationship and just wanted to travel the next year. It was my last year of studies and didn't want to focus on men ... then I ran into him again. I remember, literally my mom asking me 'What do you want in a guy?' And while I was talking to her - we hadn’t even held hands then - I was like 'aaah Shit, it’s him'. Without a shadow of a doubt… okay cool, I’ve found him. Which I found really cool because I’m a very indecisive person, and I try to always weigh up the pros and cons and maybe I should and maybe I shouldn’t and with him it was just like BOOM! Don’t want anything else, which I found very reassuring because I didn’t want even a shadow of a doubt when I’m marrying someone. Then I rather just not get married. … {in a soft voice} Can you believe it?

It’s nice to talk about it.

Dewald: Yes it is. Brings back good memories

Anneri: mmmm

Reni: So did your relationship change? Is it different being married?

Dewald: The big thing for me is – I’ll relate it back to the construction industry – the very important part of the building is the corner stone. And that’s the one thing that I found after we got married is, that’s the one thing I have of her. Is that connection part, that doesn’t matter what happens, in our life, or my life or situations that kind of throws everything out of control. I can still always come back and there is that consistency, that reinsurance that I know. Okay, Anything else can be, you know the world can be thrown upside down and I have this one thing that’s consistent. I think that really makes a huge difference. And that also relates back to your previous question about going out with somebody or being married, I think that’s really the big difference that you have. Because you have that binding.

Anneri: It’s cemented together.

Dewald: Yeah, nice one.

Anneri: Let’s go on with the building metaphors.

Dewald: Yes I think that’s the big thing for me. Just having that support.

 

Pause.

 

Reni: Is there something you want to say?

Dewald: No I was hoping for another question.

Anneri: I think the only thing I thought of now that I was saying, which I think is really remarkable about being married is another witness to your life. You have someone… I mean you have a lot of other people that care about you, who love you, but to have someone that’s witnessing all the small things. They know all the tiny, insignificant things that happen and they can celebrate it with you or they can be sad. The tiny things are always the best things. And it’s the insignificant things that make your life spectacular or quite average I feel. So having someone like revel in that with you or celebrate that with you or will be sad with you about that – I think, that’s quite remarkable.

Dewald: I think a lot of times people that that marriage is about the big things, is about the grand gestures.  But I definitely agree with you, it’s just the little things. And I actually just realized not too long ago… your partner is really your best friend. And I know it sounds a bit corny, but it actually really is like that. It’s the smallest little things that happen in your day-to-day life that really does seem so minuscule that you don’t really necessarily say to someone else, but it was a big thing for you and you shared with them and they shared the excitement with you.

Anneri: And also I would have gotten married earlier if I knew how frickin’ epic this was. I had this thing about getting married early and I was like 'no, I don’t want to get married before 30 and I just want to travel and just want to enjoy life'. And I wish that people would talk more about how fun being married is. Like it’s flipping fun. It’s like the best adventure ever, you don’t have to be a boring married couple. Like it’s the exact opposite, it’s your favourite person in the world and everything is shared and you have all these adventures together. I feel like, I don’t know, it’s because a lot of marriages fail or the way society is been put together. I feel like there is so much negativity about the old ball and chain and don’t get married and become one of those people. But people need to talk about the fun stuff – never mind the romantic – just flipping fun. I wish people would talk about that more. I can’t count how many times the past year and a half that we’ve been married I like belly laughed, can-not-breath laughed because of some weird shit.

Dewald: It’s normally random stuff. See if we can do cartwheels.

Anneri: In our very big apartment. {laughs}

Dewald: At half past 11 on a Sunday.

Anneri: Yes like stupid things like that ... I think that’s all that I wanted to say.

Dewald: Good answer.

Reni: Cartwheels.


Anneri & Dewald - 27 & 27, have been married since the 12th of December 2015