Some love stories are the makings of a fairytale while others are a true testament of how love defies all. Usually in the nick of Valentine’s Day, we often look for reminders of the kind of love that can endure everything. Enter the gracious couple, Nomhle Diteko and Tefo Madisa, whose story epitomises endurance, friendship and patience.
Nomhle begins: “I never used to understand what people meant when they said God’s timing is the best until I was 22. I went to my cousin’s house, and having broken up with my boyfriend at the time because of distance, I had totally given up on love. Then I met this guy who I wasn’t sure knew I existed.”
The guy was Tefo. Their relationship started to bloom and six months later, Nomhle fell pregnant. She says feelings of mistrust, fear of the future and whether they had made the right decision surfaced. “We enjoyed spending time together,” she notes. “We did everything together. He made me laugh, I made him laugh too. I had not a shadow of doubt that I was in love.
We were both excited but still were not sure what to expect. He was scared. So gradually he started drifting away and was giving excuses why he couldn’t come and see me. I was getting frustrated and I suspected he was cheating. So we entered a period of constantly fighting. In hindsight I can now say we were both going through a transition and it was obviously going to be difficult. I gave birth to beautiful little Lwethu, which comes from Thandolwethu, our love. She was our love personified. It got good again and we were happy. But at the back of my mind I felt that my man had not been there for me during my pregnancy and that I deserved better.”
They both state that love sustained them for one another. “It is difficult to say because at different times it has been different things,” Tefo says. “But I would say friendship and patience with each other helped us through our rockiest times.”
Looking back, Nomhle says it was getting tough to support their child as Tefo was a student and she had just started at a new job. “So we spoke and Tefo was brave enough to venture into a farming business because it was too hard for him to watch me struggle with Lwethu alone. I couldn’t believe that my man had made such a critical decision for us. He was ready to face the stereotype in Botswana about college dropouts and crush his parents’ dream of seeing him graduate for my little girl and me. This brought a whole new understanding to me of what I actually meant to him.
“It was not easy because we had to make do with what we had. And then I fell pregnant again! Now this came as a shock to us as we weren’t expecting it. So we fell into hard times again. We contemplated all sorts of things like termination of the pregnancy and giving the child up for adoption. But I told Tefo that God would make a plan for the child just as he had done for us all along.
“We had not planned to have two kids by the age of 25. That was not my life’s plan. He had just quit school to try and make things better for us but he had not planned for two kids. So as you can imagine the reality became too much to deal with. I also thought that this man had ruined my life with two kids and that I would never be the Nomhle I that I had dreamt of my before. So we continued fighting until one night I prayed. I said: ‘God, help me please if I am being a terrible woman to this man. Change me to become a woman he can live with. Help him to understand my needs and become the man I want him to be. I can’t take it any more.’”
They soon resolved their differences because their mutual attraction and love were self-evident. Whereupon they promised to love each other more than before. As it is common for romance to sometimes suffer because of having kids, the couple says they prioritised spending time together. “We must admit it was challenging with work and the pressure of being good parents to our children,” Nomhle says. “But we have since travelled a lot together. We maximise on the short periods of time that we have to remind each other of how the romance started and the late night chats.”
Thinking of their journey, they say it has made them better friends, parents and lovers. Their advice for other couples: “We all go through difficult periods, but one thing we say to ourselves all the time is that we love each other and circumstances do not define who we are,” says Tefo. “We also make the decision to stick together no matter what. Our relationship has taught us patience. When we look back on all the trials and fights that we have been through, many of my family and many of my friends cannot make sense of why we are still in a relationship because it is toxic in their eyes. We have learnt to be strong for what we love and believe in. We would do it all over again.”
The couple states that they do not wait for Valentine’s Day to celebrate what they have but ensure that every single moment they share is a celebration of their love.