The Phiri’s: free-spirited couple with sense of adventure

FAMILY fun: Sandras Still Phiri and Lelemba Chitembo Phiri with their two sons Mwenda (left) and Mwai (right)

WHEN the free-spirited Lelemba Chitembo Phiri relocated to the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) flats on Ituna Road in Lusaka, she had no idea of what lay ahead of her.
That simple decision, which was made in March of 2005 altered her future because that was the place where she met her husband Sandras Still Phiri, whom she described as her fellow free-spirited partner.
Now 11 years later and with two sons, the couple continues to live their care-free and adventurous lives in Cape Town, South Africa with no regrets. The couple manages Africa Trust Academy based in Cape Town.
Perhaps, their love, as they say, was written on the stars because the two seemed to have hit it off from the word go when they were introduced by a mutual colleague.
“I moved into a flat that was directly above his. The lady who was moving out of the flat I was moving into introduced us. I didn’t think about that first meeting but I noticed his stares while we were being introduced,” says Lelemba who is also the chief marketing officer of Zoona.
The two developed a friendship after that and would
usually spend time together.
This went on for three months.
“Within two weeks of being friends I thought, ‘I could live with this guy!’ We had a lot in common and had similar interests and ambitions and also laughed at the same things,” she says.
About 10 months after their first meeting, the couple got married on January 6, 2006. In March 2007, the couple moved to South Africa.
“I was attracted to his intellect, ambition and sense of humour and the fact that he was supportive of my ambition and was not intimidated by it. Most importantly, I love that he’s still my friend after all these years. He still supports me and that challenges me to be more, to do more and to have more in life,” Lelemba says.
For Sandras, it was love at first sight because of the inner assurance he felt when he was introduced to her.
“When she first visited our flat, she found my best friend and I was dancing. I asked her to join in and she did.
And I thought ‘Wow, finally I have found a girl who is not pretentious.” There was definitely no beating about the bush with her,” he says.
He says he was attracted to his wife because of her beauty and intelligence and was so much fun to be with.
What he loves about their marriage is that the couple still laughs a lot together and still has fun together.
“Since we met in March 2005, we are still best friends who do a lot of crazy stuff together,” he says.
But what’s the secret to the success of their marriage?
The couple says their marriage has been successful because they work hard on it.
“We work at communicating better, work at having more fun together, work at looking good for each other, work at supporting and growing each other, work at creating financial security and independence together,” Sandras says.
He says what affects the success of some marriages is that most couples stop working and so they sulk and give the silent treatment for weeks. They do not seek any relationship growth courses, books or guidance; they stop taking care of their bodies and their looks.
“We work on it and work at staying relevant to each other and giving each other value according to what is high on the other person’s value system,” he says.
Before Lelemba added, “He has said it all! I would add that we also choose to be together and prioritise our relationship because we actually like each other a lot.
That might sound like a straight forwar thing and yet it’s not.
We could choose to hang out with friends more than with each other or travel more alone than with each other but we do not.
Our relationship is important to us and so we treat it as a priority.”
What keeps the couple together is that they party a lot together and travel together a lot.
“Party! Party! Party! And all the countries we go to, we party together. We also invest a lot on personal development to learn about ourselves and each other. We really like each other a lot,” Mr Phiri said.
The couple considers itself equal as partners and participates in this partnership equally.
The couple says what makes most relationships fail is the belief that marriage is meant to make the couple happy and that marriage is easy going.
“It is such a belief that make people give up easily when they get sad or when it gets a little tough. Marriage is for growth. Marriage like anything is work. Work is good. Work makes things function and grow,” Sandras says.
He says a great marriage has both happiness and sadness, good and bad, support and challenge and is easy and tough adding that when all these opposites come together in harmony, one gets fulfilment which is beyond the temporary feeling of happiness.
“When you’re a happy person marriage will enhance it. If you’re a miserable person, marriage won’t fix that, instead it will make you take out your misery on one person. Your partner can’t make you happy if on your own you cannot make yourself happy.”
Before Lelemba added, “My advice to couples is to make sure you’re friends first, so that when the ‘glitter of the newness of the relationship’ wears off you’re still able to connect at a deep level and have fun together. And keep
growing together, supporting and challenging each other. When you both grow – the whole family benefits.”

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