Dwight and Cherish Callender. (Picture by Dominique Bonnett.)
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It’s not often that teenaged love affairs have a fairy tale ending. But for Dwight and Cherish Callender, they’re one of those blessed couples.
The fairytale began at Christ Church Foundation School when Dwight was in fourth form and Cherish in third and a mutual friend tried unsuccessfully at the time to hook them up.
“Our friendship at first was arranged by a friend. Her friend told her that I wanted to speak to her and her friend told me that she wants to talk to me. So the first going down was ‘but I never said that’ and she said the same. I had never even seen her before. I was in fourth form and I was looking for people my own age,” Dwight recalled.
He reflected on that first conversation and broke out in a shy chuckle while doing so.
“Our first conversation went pretty much like ‘I don’t want to talk to you’ and I was like ‘I don’t want to talk to you either’ . . . . I really don’t know what happened after that,” he said.
However, the lovebirds got together a few weeks later. That romance didn’t last long though. Admittedly, Dwight said he was too young and giddy-headed for the relationship to work at that time.
But Cherish left such a lasting impression that there was just something about her he could not forget.
“We became a couple about a month or so later. That didn’t last long. We were in school and we broke up. I was young and wild and free. We were apart for like two years. I had other girlfriends but I would always want to talk to her all the time and found reasons to hang out. I had other relationships but none of them were as fulfilling as when I was with Cherish so instead of wasting my time I got back with her,” Dwight said while rubbing his wife’s arm.
On December 5, 2009, they gave it another try. However, in an interview at their beautiful home in St Philip, the couple said the last eight years haven’t been easy but love has kept them going.
“It was challenging at times. We are both very opinionated so we clash a lot. But the hardest thing is to know. No matter how much we butt heads we know what the goal was,” Cherish said while giggling.
Dwight added, “She’s twice as stubborn as me. But I give in because it doesn’t make sense arguing. Everything has its challenges. But if you decide that it’s worth fighting for it would work.”
And Dwight, having let Cherish go in the past and realising how dull life was without her, decided he couldn’t let it happen again and at the tender age of 23, he began to put things in lace to ask his long-time girlfriend to become his wife.
“I was young; at 20 or 21 you’re not thinking marriage . . . . But when I was about 23 I realised I wanted to make her my wife. I was 24 when I proposed.
“The potential was there, the feeling of love over and over, it wasn’t dying. It was something fresh. If she walked out in something I liked I would still be like ‘cheese on bread, that’s mine,’ . . . that kind of feeling. I would see . . . the way she loves children and I could see that was someone I would like to have a child or children with knowing that when I start this family, it would go a long way,” Dwight said while gazing lovingly at his wife.
And standing at well over 6ft tall, Dwight said while he was sure he wanted to make Cherish his wife, he was very nervous when he asked her parents for her hand in marriage.
“I was nervous when I asked her dad for her hand. I asked her mum first, then her dad. I was very nervous when I pressed call on my phone. It was actually like two days before I proposed and they were very approving,” he said.
And the full-time musician wanted to make asking the question memorable.
“I was playing steel pan and someone else was playing guitar and someone was singing Marry You by Bruno Mars and then all the other guests at the hotel were now watching. Everyone was tuned into my radio station, so I was talking and you could hear that my voice was shaking. But then I told myself she probably isn’t going to tell me no so I got down on one knee and asked and she cried like a baby for a while. She still hasn’t told me yes up to now,” he said to laughter.
The proposal for Cherish came in the form of a birthday surprise when she turned 23 and it was something she would never forget.
“He made a huge scene. I couldn’t figure why that song . . . . It threw me off. But being in a relationship that long, I expected it but you never know when. We had many anniversary dinners, birthday dinners, random surprises, and I would always be, like, ‘Maybe he would do it today’. But it was no surprise that’s where his head was,” she added.
But in all the excitement and rush of planning their dream wedding for the following year, Dwight and Cherish got an unexpected but very welcomed visitor. Around the end of February, the engaged couple found out they were pregnant.
“We never decided when we would have a baby. We just knew we were going to have babies we just didn’t know when,” Dwight said.
Cherish told EASY she saw the signs but didn’t want to believe it at first because finding out in February would mean that the baby would be coming just before the wedding, which was planned for December 5, their eight-year anniversary.
“I wasn’t surprised when I found out. I saw the signs before. I was definitely excited, I couldn’t stop smiling. Dwight was there when I found out. I specifically said not in November, anytime other than November, because the wedding was in December. But in November just as we were getting ready for a friend’s wedding Dwight had to rush me to the hospital,” said Cherish.
The wedding went on as planned, with one extra guest who of course was also the centre of attention – their son Aedyn Callender.
Married life for the Callenders hasn’t been easy, especially being a young working couple – Dwight is a full-time musician who travels the world and Cherish a hairstylist now looking to expand her business.
“Married life is good. I think the only thing that really changed is that we live in the same house now. We were together over eight years so there’s nothing really new to figure out, at least not yet. It’s going great, man. It is not the fairy tale some people make it out to be. There’s still clashing of heads, different opinions and so on. But for me it’s great. Coming home to my family, relax, watch TV, chill, cook together, it’s great,” Dwight said.
Cherish agreed, “I haven’t killed him yet, so it must be good. It’s not a major adjustment. There are still some aspects that you would have to get accustomed to. It’s not a fairy tale but it’s not bad. I love it.”
And as for what keeps the couple together, they agreed that it was love, compromise and communication.
However, they advised other young couples to focus on their own relationships rather than trying to mirror others.
“Don’t get caught up watching other people. Don’t look at my relationship and say that’s how it’s supposed to be. Each relationship is different you go through different challenges. You need to get your goals together. Work out your issues together. Don’t bring other people into your relationship,” they said. (DB)