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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we sat down with three Hong Kong power couples to find out what has sustained their marriage, how their love has grown over the years, and how Covid-19 has brought them closer together.

Brandon and Jenny Chau have long been Hong Kong high-society stalwarts, while actress Ankie Beilke and husband Simon Van Damme’s relationship only blossomed after they’d known each other for 16 years. Chef and socialite Esther Sham and her husband Sunny Tan also share how, despite ups and downs, their marriage has become stronger than ever. Photographed wearing beautiful jewellery by Messika, all three Hong Kong power couples talk frankly about love.

Brandon & Jenny Chau

Hong Kong power couples

How did you meet?

JENNY: At a mutual friend’s birthday party in a club called Queen’s.

How long did it take before you knew your partner was “the one”?

BRANDON: We dated for a very long time and, of course, went through our own ups and downs. There was actually a time when we broke up for a brief period – and that was when I realised she was the one. So eventually we got back together and got married soon after that.

What were your impressions of each other when you first met?

B: I thought Jenny was really cool and quite different from other girls.
J: When I first greeted Brandon at the entrance of Queen’s
he was wearing sunglasses, so though I didn’t have the best first impression, I was curious to get to know him better.

What did you do on your first date?

B: I was pretty old-school back then, so even though we already had email I loved to write letters and I still prefer pen and paper. We remained friends for a while until one summer, when I was in London, I told my dad that I really wanted to go back to Hong Kong and see this girl. I basically just turned up at their place and her whole family stared at me. After that, she finally agreed to go on a date with me and I took her to a French restaurant in my dad’s Rolls-Royce, because I wanted to impress her – that was our first date.

J: Aside from that, one of our very memorable first dates was when Brandon took me to Cheung Chau and we rode bicycles and explored the village. That’s a very simple and special memory for me.

Tell us what you both enjoy.

B: We love travel and we also love food. It could be Japan or Europe, anywhere really.

What advice would you give for a long and happy marriage?

B: To be very patient. A lot of people are very impulsive,
so it’s easy to say something you might regret later. So, think before you speak. This might also sound a bit lame, but always say sorry.

J: Communication is very important. A lot of problems arise because people have closed doors, but when you’re open, you’re more willing to talk and compromise.

What’s the most challenging thing to adapt to in
a marriage?

B: Having kids, because it changes the whole dynamic. Your priorities will change and there’s a lot more responsibility. But I love the warmth of a family.

Tell us something about your wedding day.

B: I think of my dad, because he was quite sick at the time. We had the banquet at The Peninsula and he was very happy I’d got married. Shortly after, he passed away.

J: My dad’s reaction is also something I distinctly remember from our wedding day. He’s not very overt with his emotions, but when he walked me down the aisle and gave me a hug, I really felt his happiness resonating with me.

How has Covid-19 affected your relationship?

B: It’s been quite interesting. A lot of couples either become closer or they argue a lot. I think we’ve become more patient with each other, so it’s good.

J: I love that we can spend time together, doing things we wouldn’t normally do because we’re usually both so busy with work. We also bought a lot of gym equipment and started working out together.

Describe your ideal date night for 2021.

B: I’d love to go back to the Maldives again.

J: Anything that involves travel. I’d love to walk around Tokyo with Brandon.

“Communication is very important. When you’re open, you’re more willing to talk and compromise”

Jenny Chau

Esther Sham & Sunny Tan

Hong Kong power couples
ON ESTHER: LUCKY MOVE PINK-GOLD DIAMOND EARRINGS; MOVE 10TH PINK-GOLD DIAMOND NECKLACE; BABY MOVE PINK- GOLD DIAMOND NECKLACE; MOVE 10TH PINK-GOLD DIAMOND BRACELET (RIGHT WRIST); LUCKY MOVE PINK-GOLD DIAMOND RING (RIGHT HAND); GLAM’AZONE PINK-GOLD DIAMOND RING (LEFT HAND); MOVE NOA PINK-GOLD DIAMOND RING (LEFT HAND) MESSIKA
ON SUNNY: MOVE TITANIUM NATURAL TITANIUM DIAMOND BRACELET (LEFT WRIST); MOVE TITANIUM NATURAL TITANIUM DIAMOND RING (LEFT HAND) MESSIKA

How did you meet?

ESTHER: We want to say we met each other in a library, but actually we met at Volar.

How long did it take before you knew your partner was “the one”?

E: I think there was a transformation in our relationship after we dated for three years. Once we’d passed our honeymoon period, we had a lot of fights, our personalities clashed and our values were quite different on certain things. I felt that we were quite stuck for some time, as we kind of wanted to be free with each other, but I also felt like we couldn’t yet move up to the next level. It wasn’t until after I came to Christ in 2011 that I learned what unconditional love is, because when I was with him back then, it was actually a conditional love since I wanted him to marry me. The first sermon I attended was about unconditional love, and then it just hit me that I only wanted to be with Sunny because of him, and not because of his status or his family. I stopped wanting him for the wrong reasons and then a few months later he proposed to me, so that was the time that I genuinely felt that he was the one.

SUNNY: On my side, it’s quite similar. I have my own personality too – I’m more a numbers person, while Esther’s very artistic. Now, we fit together very well, but the process we went through was very difficult. It was only after all our struggles that I felt as if the love we had for each other was really genuine.

What were your impressions of each other when you
first met?

E: I thought Sunny was weird because he had this huge smile on his face, as if he was shooting a toothpaste commercial or had some hidden agenda, but that’s just how he is in real life!

S: I was very curious about Esther because I thought she was very talented and very creative.

“ It was only after all our struggles that I felt as if the love we had for each other was really genuine”

Sunny Tan

What did you do on your first date?

E: We went to Disneyland!

Tell us what you both enjoy.

S: We love spending time with our kids and also with each other. We love good food especially!

What advice would you give for a long and happy marriage?

E: Aside from unconditional love, I believe we always have to be mature, but also not to forget to be childlike at heart. And that’s how to keep your life and love young. Your exterior youthfulness may go, but nothing can steal the youth inside of you. Sunny and I still joke around with each other all the time.

What’s the most challenging thing to adapt to in a marriage?

S: To me, marriage is like a piggy bank – you either deposit or you make withdrawals. Thus, while you withdraw, you also have to put in effort to deposit money in order to keep it full. Everyone has good and bad days, but it’s the effort that counts.

E: While dating, life was just the two of us, but married life is much more than that – and that takes time to adapt to.

Tell us something about your wedding day.

E: We had a secret ceremony with my pastor in our bridal room.

How has Covid-19 affected your relationship?

S: Normally I travel a lot, but now I get to spend a lot more time with Esther and our kids, and I really enjoy it.

Describe your ideal date night for 2021.

E: I’d love to do what we did to celebrate our wedding anniversary – book a night at The Peninsula and just enjoy our time with ourselves and our kids.

Ankie Beilke & Simon Van Damme

Hong Kong power couples
ON ANKIE: MOVE 10TH WHITE- GOLD DIAMOND EARRINGS; MOVE UNO WHITE-GOLD DIAMOND NECKLACE; LUCKY MOVE WHITE-GOLD DIAMOND NECKLACE; GLAM’AZONE WHITE- GOLD DIAMOND RINg MESSIKA; ON SIMON: MOVE TITANIUM BLACK TITANIUM DIAMOND BRACELET (LEFT WRIST); MOVE TITANIUM BLACK TITANIUM DIAMOND RING (LEFT HAND) MESSIKA

How did you meet?

SIMON: At a dinner in Dragon-I. My friend, Nicole Schoeni, introduced us.

ANKIE: Even though we didn’t hit it off right away then, it
still remains a special night – we have a picture from that night framed in our house!

How long did it take before you knew your partner was “the one”?

A: When I re-met him in India during Rosemary Vandenbroucke’s wedding, and I thought he was very attractive and funny.

What were your impressions of each other when you first met?

S: My first impression of Ankie was just, wow … sexy lady! So smart and intelligent!

A: I thought he was very handsome, but he’s more handsome now. I think he ages like fine wine.

What did you do on your first date?

S & A: We went to Sushi Kuu!

Tell us what you both enjoy.

A: We love nature and being outdoors. We love to hike, and we love cooking and tending to our garden at home. We also love to watch movies and listen to music or go to music festivals together.
What advice would you give for a long and happy marriage?

S: Happy wife, happy life!

A: You have to take care of yourself and you can’t let yourself go. And when you have problems, you have to talk about it right away. Don’t just let it hang there and never go to bed angry.

What’s the most challenging thing to adapt to in
a marriage?

A: When you start living together, you learn a lot of things about each other that are a little bit different from your own lifestyle habits. I actually read in a psychology book that it’s really important to have two bathrooms.

S: Everything can be a challenge, but it’s about how you look at things. I choose always to be positive – there’s always a solution.

Tell us something about your wedding day.

S: What I remember most is everyone smiling and how happy all our guests were. I also remember my best man gave an incredible speech that really moved us.

A: We were at Hong Kong Park and we had our wedding outdoors. I just remember what a great time we all had.
We had about 40 guests, because we wanted to keep it small. Afterwards we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant – it was really nice, because we had the whole place to ourselves – and ended the night on a friend’s rooftop.

How has Covid-19 affected your relationship?

A: I think it made us realise that we really like spending time together. We don’t go out as much and we’ve become healthier too! I love cooking – and Simon also loves my cooking – so I spend a lot of time at home doing that.

S: Covid has made us love each other more. If we can get through this, we can get through anything. But I think it’s made us better, because we enjoy staying at home more and we’ve also start to lead much healthier lifestyles – we don’t need an excuse to stay in any longer.

Describe your ideal date night for 2021.

A: I know Simon – I think he’d like to be camping on a beach. But I’d love to just go out to the cinema, watch a movie and be able to have dinner in a restaurant at night again.

S: Aside from camping, an ideal night would also involve sushi and all of our friends.

The post Three Hong Kong Power Couples on What Makes Their Marriage Tick appeared first on Prestige Online – Hong Kong.