Step by Step, down the red carpeted aisle and amidst an intimate crowd of joyful family members and jovial friends. She once said ‘yes’ to a dream and fulfils her promise with an ‘I do’ to a commitment. Remember Melissa Schoeman, our first exclusive interviewee who got Engaged At 20 to Garth Van der Watt?, now she goes by the legal title Mrs. Van Der Watt, Married At 20!
I knew that this tale, not common in a non-1950’s world, deserved a follow up. Since bringing you, the Inspired4Writers reader, this story back in March, it has gone on to garner much interest. Talking to Melissa once again, a week after the best day of her life thus far, about the butterflies that kept her awake the whole night before; why the couple chose to abstain from sex before marriage; children; my confessig my reservations and a whole lot more, I walked away with a greater appreciation for those who choose to commit at a young age and I know your thoughts on this matter will be challenged and refreshed too. By: Kabelo Khanye.
Kabelo: ‘Every experience we have shared together has led up to this point’. These were some of your first words to your husband at the reception. Has it all sunk in yet?
Melissa: Yes, I believe it has sunk in, not fully, no, but we are in no rush to get out of our honeymoon phase. So for now, we take life day by day, facing everyday responsibilities in work, studies etc. I have waited in anticipation for many months to call myself Mrs. van der Watt and now that I can, it is pure bliss.
K: And it quite literally is your honeymoon phase as you just arrived from your honeymoon last week. How did you both feel about your much anticipated wedding day?
M: Speaking for the both of us, the Lord could not have given us a better or more blessed day. We had beautiful weather, beautiful friends & family and an overall beautiful and peaceful day. How more perfect can the day be when you marry the man of your dreams that God has placed in your path?
K: I agree, the culmination of all these gifts made it all the more remarkable. And there was no fuss. When I called Solange [bridesmaid] before the wedding, she kept saying how surprisingly calm you were [laughs]. What was going through your mind prior to the ceremony?
M: [Laughs] Solange seemed to be so taken aback at the fact that she had never seen such a calm bride making comment to the fact that if she were at a cousins wedding, they would be running around going crazy! [Laughing] Honestly, I just could not wait to get to the chapel to see my husband … It was the first time since we dated and got engaged that I had been away from Garth for so long and the excitement was getting to me! I had permanent butterflies and was just so excited to start this new chapter in my life. I had spent the whole day getting ready, it was time now for him to see me and me to see him.
K: That’s precious. And I remember you telling me at the wedding that you had slept at 02:00am that morning & had woken up four hours later! Those butterflies were hectic [laughs]. It’s probably too early to say but does marriage feel like you thought it would? Or what has surprised you thus far?
M: [Laughing] Well besides butterflies, I had a very good friend, Charlotte, to talk “girly things” to all night, so sleep was not an option. And as our family does, we all had supper together the night before, after Garth and I got baptised. Everything feels as I thought it would … As good as it was being engaged, this time, more free & permanent. The way I like it!
K: Yeah. I’ve got a confession to make & I am happy our friendship allows for us to be honest with one another. I harbored some reservations about your engagement. The first time we did the interview, I knew that you both made sense but then it became a question of ‘will they actually still get married?’ ‘Is there an external pressure at play?’, but then I saw you two at your wedding, swapping smirks and sharing laughs, essentially not distracted by all the excitement but grounded by your Love. I knew then that no one has anything to worry about. They’re fine.
M: Thank You. I appreciate that honesty and we were used to people being concerned or having their doubts but we were always grounded in the Lord, can’t go wrong with Him.
K: Evidently not [smiles]. You mentioned being elated that your friends were there to share in your joy. What did it mean to see some of your classmates present?
M: It was really special because I had shared such important years with all the friends that were present. The way I see it, they spent the years with me that made me the Melissa and the wife that I am today. As I said in my speech that evening, every person there wasn’t “just” there, they were personally and specially chosen.
K: And you reaped the fruits of that! So how is this for irony: earlier today, a friend of mine was telling me about her recent experience of seeing a group of her fellow female university mates “training for marriage” by baking up a storm in their kitchen. My friend was deeply disturbed by this, not because they were baking but because of their intention. What are your thoughts on young girls who feel the urgency to be domesticated for marriage? Is it a good or a bad thing in our time?
M: That is quite a question! But my honest opinion is that when you are getting or are married, you just have to be you! Your husband accepted you as you are, so no training needed [laughs] … I mean I can cook, clean, do dishes, laundry etc but between me and you, that doesn’t mean I’m doing it everyday. Garth knows my personality, strengths, weaknesses as is, when I am lazy or really just don’t want to do anything. So I could have gone for all the “training” in the world but it wouldn’t have changed me. But I must say, I do feel it is important to treat your man with love and spoil him when you can.
K: Yea, because here’s the thing Mel. Too many of us are leaping into the wrong relationships because we have the wrong mindset. Every second day relationships are failing. What mentality should one adopt with regards to their approach to this immaculate gift that is Love?
M: I truly would be lying if I had the “perfect” answer. I really believe that it will depend from each relationship but our mindset is our Faith.
K: Meaning it was your Christian principles that informed your relationship?
M: Completely formed our relationship in fact.
K: And do you mind sharing as to how it did? What were the fundamental Christian guidelines you set for yourselves as a couple?
M: When we met, we started going to church together and it is through those times that our relationship formed. Well the most obvious, no sex before marriage, honesty, loyalty, trust and always have Christ as our centre. The rest comes naturally from both of our morals and beliefs.
K: That’s admirable too that it was an agreement you both made at the door of your relationship. We always hear guidelines such as ‘no sex before marriage’ but can you share as to what the value is in abstaining, especially during your engagement as you’ve already made plans to be committed for the rest of your lives?
It has immense value … Value I don’t think we could even ever begin to understand. The fact that biblically you are warned to abstain because it is the one and only gift you can give to your wife or husband, as well the fact that it is a soul tie … Tying two people, becoming one.
K: You both took that faith of yours & put it right into action. That’s great. Was your decision successful? And I ask because I’ve heard that the engagement period is the hardest to abstain.
M: Ofcourse it was [smiles], very much so. Ofcourse it is hard, but the reward … priceless.
K: [Laughs] as it should be. All the speeches made at the reception by friends & family were special and of them was your grandfather. I particularly like the challenge he gave to his multitude of children & grandchildren [laughs]. The challenge of surpassing the 60 years he spent with your late grandmother.
M: … He really knows how to set the bar quite high now doesn’t he? [Laughing] …
K: [Laughs] and what a bar that is. As a wife, what are your dreams for yourself and your family?
M: At the moment, to successfully finish my degree, to work hard but always keep balance and always have my family as a number one priority no matter what comes our way. Ofcourse we both want a family, two children (Garth wants two girls) and to simply be the most Christ-like wife and mother I have the ability to be. To be the best version of me and to always keep my word to my husband and to never grow weary.
K: Yeah and on the subject of family, in our first interview, you said motherhood will come later … 2 years from now. Is that still your plan?
M: Whenever the Lord plans it and wants it in our plan.
K: When it happens, may they grow up to be as God-fearing and Loving as their parents are.
M: Thank you very much for those kind words
M: I don’t believe I have the answer to that either. All I can say is I got married because I didn’t want to waste or lose anytime not being with my Godly man. So this way, we are as close as we can be and are on our path to building our lives together. And most importantly, I am completely and utterly in love and loved by him.
K: This is why you took on his surname as well, right? Out of your own free will even in a time when females are not pressured to as much …
M: I could not wait to take on his surname. We are our own family, why wouldn’t I be the same as my husband. Van der Watt … I love using my new surname at every opportunity I have [Laughs].
K: [Laughs] I can just imagine the males reading this interview demanding to know where they can find more women like you. Mel, this past two hours has been fantastic. I appreciate you letting us into your private thoughts and experiences. Wishing you the Will of God for this journey of a lifetime.
M: [Laughs] Thank you for allowing us the platform to share our story and playing such a special role in our walk together!
K: In conclusion, what is the one Truth that you hold onto?
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