The O'Neill'sI don’t know about you but I just love to hear couples relate their stories about how they got together. I especially love hearing these love stories from people in older generations like the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. I love the thought that romance exists in every era.

It being a Valentine’s Day weekend I thought I would share our story about how Ashley and I fell inlove. 

The 15th of February is a significant day for us. It marks the anniversary of seven years of marriage and eleven years as a couple.

The 15th February is the day we shared our first kiss and the day we became husband and wife. I’d love to tell you that our first date (planned for Valentine’s Day of 2004) was amazing and the start of our lives together… but that is not our story.

“Our story began on the day after Valentine’s Day due to a disastrous first date”

How it all began

Ashley and I used to live a block apart but we only met when I finished college. I was immediately impressed with his polite manners and he seemed quiet and a bit mysterious so we soon became friends and started socializing in the same circles.

We both worked in the central business district in the heart of Cape Town and conveniently took the same bus route. We also both had a part-time job on the weekends which conveniently was also in the same shopping mall (hello destiny!).

At that time Ashley and his mother were both employed by the same advertising agency and traveled together on the same bus route. These circumstances enabled us all to get better acquainted much to his mother’s dismay because she was not a morning person and I was a chatterbox. She used to ask me very politely to remain quiet for 3 minute periods which was just. not. possible!

One evening I cried for the entire bus ride home because my ex-boyfriend and I had broken up two weeks before Valentine’s Day.

Being a very dramatic twenty-two year old, I was devastated and convinced that my life as I knew it had come to an end!

My bus route ensured that Ashley was in the right place at the right time during my crisis.

To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.
Bruce Lee

After listening to my tirade he surmised that what I needed was a good platonic friend.  He advised me to spend the upcoming Valentine’s Day with a FRIEND doing friendly non-date-type activities. He then volunteered to fill the role of said “platonic friend” and plans were made.

Unbeknownst to me, Ashley for the next two weeks spent all his combined earnings from his part-time and day job on planning the mother of all romantic dates to set the stage for his big confession. He planned to tell me on Valentine’s Day that he had been in love with me for the past eight months.

Disclaimer: This version of events have been edited by my husband and confirmed as factual.

The big let-down

The big day finally arrived and I’d been pretty psyched to spend the day my good friend Ashley. But unexpectedly my ex-boyfriend arrived at my doorstep just ten minutes before Ashley was due to arrive and wanted to talk saying that we had unresolved issues, and he’d made a mistake blah blah blah. Ashley arrived a few minutes later and seeing his car in the driveway, he texted me to ask if we were still on. Since I thought that he hadn’t left home yet I asked for some time to talk to and get rid of my ex-boyfriend so that he could move past our break-up and accept that we were over as I had. By that time I was past the phase of hurt and rejection and well into the angry “I’m a survivor”, “he doesn’t deserve me” phase.

But of course Ashley had already left home and was standng right in front of my house, he read my message and he completely misunderstood and thought that my ex-boyfriend and I were getting back together and all his well-laid plans was all for naught.

I tried texting him to explain and thought we would chat and laugh about it at a party later that evening but much to my surprise he avoided me ALL NIGHT long! Quite an admirable accomplishment considering how talkative I am.

The Aftermath

Needless to say we both had quite a crappy day and evening for very different reasons. After avoiding me all night he wouldn’t take my calls or reply to any messages. I spent the next morning shopping by myself to clear my head and try to figure out what I’d done wrong that could possibly have angered or hurt him. I came to no conclusions that would explain his strange behavior but never-the-less got an apology card and wrote these two lines, “I’m sorry. Can we talk?”

Before delivering the card later that Sunday, I thought to try another phone call and this time he actually answered. I told him that I regretted that my actions on the day before seemed insensitive and that I realized that he must have planned something special. I apologized profusely and his only response was “What are you doing this afternoon…how about a do-over?”

Anthea & Ashley O'Neill

We couldn’t exactly have our day back or any of the plans he’d made, but we did spend a lovely afternoon together with friends and talked a lot. At some point in the evening I pointed up at the sky and said “Look Ashley, the stars are out!” and then it happened. Being taller than me, he looked down at my upturned face and kissed me! Just like that! With no warning!

His mom knew exactly when we started dating because since that day I was so shy around her. Before she could not keep me quiet, now she enjoyed a few weeks of blissfully silent bus rides!


Ashley and I dated for four years before we started a family together. And ever since that first kiss I see stars whenever he kisses me. In our eleven years together we’ve added a marriage and two weird but wonderful kids to the equation.

Our marriage has not always been blissful and we have not liked each other for every minute of it but the journey has definitely been an adventure and we are both looking forward to the next chapter of our lives.

O'Neill Family