Outlook on Marriage | Trevor and Althea Smith 44 years of commitment
For Trevor and Althea Smith, it was a case of the salesman meeting the administrative assistant when they both worked at Lascelles Laboratories Limited in 1971.
According to Trevor, "We were attracted to each other, got along well, and the relationship blossomed into a lasting marriage." Althea remembered the details. "What sealed it for me was that a few months after getting to know each other, he had to leave for Germany to study for a year. I could actually count 365 letters that we exchanged for that period. Each day I looked forward to coming home from work to check the letterbox - I was never disappointed. This said to me that our separation needed to be converted to a permanent togetherness."
The two tied the knot on December 8, 1973. Trevor reflects, "Of the many lessons learnt, one key is the immense blessings that come from a good marriage and a closely knit family. When people are united in a common purpose, truly great things can be achieved. When that bond is in place at the level of marriage and family, you get to navigate all aspects of life with a built-in advantage."
Althea notes that what has kept them through the past 44 years is "remembering the commitment made in our vows to stick with each other 'till death do us part'. This must be kept in the forefront of our minds throughout the marriage. If the commitment to each other is strong, then there will be a determined effort to resolve issues. If the commitment is weak, you tend to give up easily."
For Althea, the five tips for a successful marriage are:
- Having a strong commitment, love and respect for each other. Express love for each other continuously throughout the marriage - in word and deeds. The most important need for a wife is to feel loved.
- Have a full understanding of the reasons for getting married. What do you expect out of the marriage? Wrong reasons can bring about frustration.
- Be willing to work towards resolving issues and reconciliation.
- Give your partner space to pursue hobbies. Alone time is necessary for each individual. However, quality time must be spent doing things together.
- Success is guaranteed in marriage if we have God at the centre of our lives. In other words, as the Bible states, "commit all plans to Him and they will succeed," and also "in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." As a child, my mother pounded these meaningful verses into my head.
Trevor's tips include:
- Let things go.
- Don't take on everything.
- Develop and sustain multiple areas of joint interest.
- Rely on a strong spiritual foundation.
- Be affectionate and respectful.
For Althea, their three children were a welcome addition to the marriage. "The presence of the children have added joy to this marriage. Family outings and time spent together have cemented the marriage and have allowed for a shift of focus from ourselves. However, it is important to set aside times for date nights and holding hands as at some point the children will leave the nest. We should still be holding hands when they leave.
Trevor concurs, "In the very early years, it is important to identify reliable and readily available babysitters. You need to be able to get away at times. Later on, you build in fun activities that engage everybody. Children actually strengthen the bonds between parents even though the focus of attention has shifted. Attending their events is an opportunity to share quality time together."
For the Smiths, there was no script for parenting. Athea shared, "We learnt from what we saw being done in our individual families and drew best practises from that. However, any decision to be made would be discussed and then implemented. It is important to know your child and see that the decisions made are in the best interest of the child and not the best interest of the parents. We also found it useful at times to get an input from the child with respect to these decisions."
Trevor adds, "Take care not to contradict each other as it relates to discipline.
Consult to avoid being tricked into overriding a decision made by your partner. Work hard at being jointly present in the lives of the children, neutralising any tendency towards dominance by either party.
Give the credit to the children for all achievements and hold them accountable for excellence."
For the Smith's their legacy lives on through their children, their respective spouses and grandchildren - Keri, Tessa her husband Rohan and children Joanna and Nathanael and Tamii with her husband Angel and children Micah, and Jayla.