“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” – Ecclesiastes 4:9

This for me pretty much sums up marriage … It is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? It is having your best friend with you all the time! It’s laughter in the kitchen, cuddles on the couch and working through tough times with your partner right by your side, always there to pick you up and cheer you on. It’s not all sunshine and roses though, but even during the tough times it’s worth pushing through because you know you will only grow stronger because of it.

I am in no way qualified to give marriage advice. Heck, I think we still count as newlyweds with only three years of being husband and wife. But even though we’re still in that honeymoon phase, we’ve had quite a few challenges to overcome, not just in our married years but also during the four years we were dating.

The biggest of those challenges was dealing with distance, making the relationship work despite the hundreds of kilometres between us. From the very beginning of our relationship, I have travelled all over the world. And let me be honest: it was not easy trying to figure out the world of fashion, travelling on my own and working on a new (and my first) relationship.

Yet, here we are seven years later: happily married and blessed beyond measure! We recently bought our dream home, and we’re so excited about this new chapter of our lives. Seeing how far we’ve come, I wanted to share a little bit of what we’ve learnt over the years.

Being best friends is the strongest foundation for your marriage. I really believe this is the key to a happy and healthy relationship. You want only the best things for your best friend, you will always cheer him/her on, support whatever it is he/she is doing, and you will have a great time doing things together, from washing the dishes to paying the bills. Best friends respect and love each other and making the marriage fun will keep that spark alive.

I also believe it is important to be equal partners. Both of you will put in the time and effort to make the relationship work, as well as creating a happy home that is a safe space for both. There’s no room for “traditional” roles, especially in today’s fast-paced lifestyle. Both of you serve one another, both of you give 100%, and both of you will reap the rewards.

For Cilliers and I, being best friends and equal partners came pretty naturally. However, it took us some time to work out communicating over long-distance or when we haven’t seen each other in weeks. What we’ve learnt over the years is that being honest about how we feel is even more important when we’re apart.

We have this “rule” where it’s okay to not be okay – but just say so. For example, let’s say I’m having a bad day, or I am stressed. I won’t feel 100% , but I am not upset with Cilliers. So when he asks if everything is okay, I shouldn’t just say, “Yes, everything is fine.” When clearly it is not. Instead, I’ll say, “No, not really. But I will talk about it when I am ready.” People will almost always reply with a dismissive “I’m fine”, especially when something is wrong. Often this will result in a misunderstanding or even a fight, because your partner might assume you are upset with him/her, or don’t understand what’s going on. They might even try and “fix” it, where maybe all you need is a bit of space and lots of hugs. But by being honest, there won’t be any misinterpretations and you will most likely sidestep an unnecessary argument.

The beauty of having a partner/husband/wife is that they will be there for you on your good and bad days, and vice versa. We’re there for our spouses no matter what – the bad days seem less bad and the good days are great when you have someone to share it with.

Having someone special to do life with is the biggest blessing! And after spending five weeks away from home, I am counting down the hours to be by my hubby’s side!