It’s the season of love and what better time to feature a loved up couple who are not only real to themselves but who have successfully weathered any marital storm despite their cultural differences. While Danny, who is the general manager of Eko Hotel is of Greek origin, Elvi who runs one of the most successful virtual shoe boutique, Myshoes. NG, is from Cross River State. She is also a co-founder of Tirtayu spa. The love birds open up to the Lifestyle/Editorial director, Nkarenyi Ukonu on reaching the 10 year mark, what has kept them going and their plans for valentine.
How did you meet your wife?
Danny: I met her while working, at my job of course.
How did you both know that you would end up together?
Elvi: First of all, we attend the same church. We were friends and then somehow sparks began to fly. But seriously we share the same morals, so it was easy for me.
Danny: As a man, when you meet her for the first time and make friends with her, you will agree that it is relatively easy to fall in love with her due to her personality. Also she is very beautiful and more so when she smiles.
How did he propose?
Elvi: Honestly, he didn’t have a ring. I had a key to his house, so I went there to make dinner one day. He came home from work, we ate and while I was clearing the dishes, he went on one knee and proposed right by the kitchen sink. It was funny, very funny. We laughed all through it and I told him to go and get me a ring.
What was the attraction for both of you?
Elvi: He is the smartest man I’ve ever met. God fearing, handsome and treats me like a Queen.
Danny: First of all, she’s smart, that attracted me. God fearing and extremely beautiful.
How long was the courtship and how long have you been married?
Elvi: It was pretty fast. We were friends from January to April of 2007. We started dating in March 2007 and he proposed in December 2007. We had our engagement ceremony/ presentation of my ring in March 2008. Our traditional marriage was May 2008 and white wedding June 2008. So everything from being friends to getting married was roughly about a year. We will be celebrating our 10th year wedding anniversary in June 2018.
How do you both keep the romance alive?
Elvi: Through little gestures; hugs and kisses when we leave each other and when we see each other.
Danny: It’s a deliberate effort. I have decided that she is my life and I have made every effort within my power to make her my top priority.
Following the birth of your children, has there been any significant changes in your marriage?
Elvi: Yes there have been changes. I had to plan my rigorous life better.
Danny: I am blessed with three very beautiful children and Elvi has made them very grounded. I come home to a good family and I thank God for that. It is not me, but I give credit to my wife. The only significant change is that my life gets better every year as a father and husband.
Your husband is in the hospitality business and naturally, he comes across women everyday of his working life. Do you ever have trust issues with him as a result of this?
Elvi: No. Thinking of it now, that has never crossed my mind. Danny is naturally a honest man. We speak many times daily. I have unrestricted access to everything he owns. Since we were friends before getting married, we’ve always laughed at these incidences.
Is there anything you will love to change about your spouse?
Elvi: Nothing, not a thing.
Danny: I think it’s wrong to try to change anything about anyone. Luckily for me, there’s nothing I would like to change about my wife.
How easy was it for you both to be accepted by your families seeing that you both are from different cultures?
Elvi: I didn’t have any problems besides trying to learn the language.
Danny: Should there have been a problem? I have not encountered any problems at all.
Has there ever been a situation where the peculiarity of your union became an issue?
Elvi: Never. None. Maybe because we are so inclined to each other, people see that and it’s been respected so far.
Money is usually an issue in marriages. Do you both run a joint account or keep separate accounts?
Elvi: We don’t run a joint account, but I have unlimited access to all his accounts.
Danny: My wife is my next of Kin in all of my accounts, she has unlimited access and knows everything that happens there.
How do you both resolve conflicts when it arises?
Elvi: We talk about everything, I mean everything.
Danny: I have no secrets and I think we converse about everything. Most importantly, we don’t scheme or try to manipulate each other.
Who apologises first after a disagreement?
Elvi: Funny enough, we apologize instantly or we carry on like nothing happened.
Danny: The thing is, if something goes wrong, we both know that we are not aiming to hurt each other. We argue, but in the argument, I know it is not Elvi’s plan to hurt me or my plan to hurt her. Our anger has not inhibited our life and we carry on, apologize if necessary and move on with our lives.
What has been the most trying period of your marital journey and how did you both resolve it?
Elvi: I honestly don’t recall.
Danny: I will not single out a moment. But we are adults who have decided to marry and stay together, so every trying time is a good time to evolve stronger. Maybe there have been trying times, but we are here and doing well so maybe we sailed through it unnoticed.
It’s the season of valentine. What would you say is your most memorable valentine ever?
Elvi: Oh my! Danny hates valentine days but he is forced to celebrate it and I love it.
Danny: To be honest with you, I think every day is special. But the pressure! So I put on a show for my wife every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, valentine. But I love my wife, everyday, every week, every month all year round.
How do you both intend to spend this year’s valentine day?
Elvi: I await all my presents!
Danny: Flowers sent home, then a full evening treat. As a hotelier, I organize the best spots and she gets a full treat.
With so many marriages ending even before they are consummated, what would you say has been your secret for having coming this far?
Elvi: God and a willingness to be together.
Danny: Marriage is a conscious effort by two consenting adults to be together. Communication and transparency are very important for any marriage to survive.
In this age of social media where every little detail about one’s relationship is aired for public consumption, are you for or against this new trend?
Elvi: I do air parts of my relationship, minute parts though only because I have no pressure or desire to air my life.
Danny: I like her facebook posts. I don’t remember posting anything, but I like to check on my high school friends on facebook. She opened an Instagram account for me but I don’t even remember the password.
Any advice for singles, newly wedded and those battling relationship problems?
Elvi: Do not scheme or manipulate your spouse. Don’t ask for money for the kid’s piano when you want to use it to buy ‘aso-ebi’. There is no need to win an argument. Sometimes it’s ok to loose in an argument. Love God, pray for yourself before praying for someone to change. Goodwill to yourself, goodwill towards your spouse, goodwill for the growth of your marriage and goodwill to the welfare of your family. Do not let anyone pressure you to the detriment of your spouse
Danny: This is a very sad situation and there is not one answer that fits all. I think support systems are great. Religious support or belief system, a strong family support system, a good friendship support system. There are no rules, but I think everyone, male or female, should have someone who can caution them when things go wrong and to always pray. I wish them all the best.