Recipe for a successful and lasting marriage

TILL DEATH ... A number of couples in long-lasting relationships share the secrets of their happy unions photo: thinkstock
TILL DEATH ... A number of couples in long-lasting relationships share the secrets of their happy unions photo: thinkstock

THE old Sotho wedding song that went "The wedding cake is delicious but marriage is not" seems to have a ring of truth to it.

According to the justice department's 2012-13 annual report, South Africa's divorce rate has spiked by 28%!

But because most snake bites have an anti-venom, there are some couples whose lifelong unions seems to fly in the face of that grim report that divorce has become the norm in modern-day marriages.

Sowetan finds out what ingredients went into their recipes for successful marriages. What is it that has kept them together, and what words of wisdom can they share with us?


MET IN 1988


"I met and fell in love with Nqaba, 56, in the 1980s. Life happened, we ended up separating, and I got married. I was in such an abhorrent marriage, and when I finally left my ex, I gave up on love.

"Until Nqaba re-emerged in the year 2000. We have been happily married since," says Myra, 51.

Myra and Nqaba, who co-own the trendy pub N&M Lounge in Diepkloof, Soweto, say they have had their fair share of problems, but have managed to stay strong in their marriage.

"We have had financial uphills, and started out selling kota (bunny chow) to make a living," Nqaba says. "But I think that has made us stronger. There's nothing more fulfilling than achieving success with your partner by your side," he says.


  • Mutual understanding. "It takes time to fully understand your partner. Keep working on it."
  • Embrace your differences. "Know your partner's weaknesses so you can be their strength. For example, he handles the financial part because I'm clueless when it comes to that, and I do the running of the business."


  • Loyalty is important. "I don't see myself with anyone else. People who are prone to cheating surprise me. Why would you risk losing someone who has been there for you for a stranger? It's not worth it," Nqaba says.


MET IN 1984


John, 63, and Esther, 53, from Embalenhle in Mpumalanga, agree that what has kept them together is getting the basics right.

Esther says she sees her husband as the head of the family who must be shown the utmost respect.

"We have had our ups and downs, as most people do. But I always show him the respect he deserves as my husband. I'm not one of those women who shout at him from the corridors," she says.


  • Bite your tongue. "Command respect, don't demand it. When we have disagreements, I simply walk away and be silent. That in return makes him calm down, and he comes with his tail between his legs to apologise," she says.


  • Unconditional support. When John retired eight years ago, he had fears of his wife leaving him because he did not work anymore.

"She didn't, and has been very supportive. Not once has she made me feel like I'm useless. That makes me love her more," he says.


MET IN 1984


Josephine 54, and Ace

Magongwa, 57, who are Bramfischerville, Soweto, residents, say they are often admired for having been together for so long.

"The secret to our long-lasting partnership is the fact that we never changed after getting married," says Josephine, an accounts clerk at Old Mutual.

"When we first met, we went on dates like going to dinners and going to the bioscope. To most people's surprise, we still do that to this day.

"I think that is where most couples go wrong - losing the fun from their relationships just because they are married."


  • Compromise. "Even though most people have often said I control my husband, the truth is he is willing to compromise to stop doing what I told him I don't like, and I reciprocate."
  • "Don't be a bodyguard to your partner. People need space from each other sometimes."


  • Be trustworthy. "Most couples have broken up their relationships through petty things like the contents of their phones.

"My wife and I have so much trust in each other, I leave my phone openly, and she does the same," Ace says.

  • Have a respectable curfew. Watch the time you get home. It's utterly disrespectful to get home after midnight.

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