Dani Willis has opened up about her marriage with Aussie cricket superstar Steve Smith, saying communication is the key "no matter how mundane".
Smith and Willis spent a large chunk of 2020 apart due to Smith's cricket commitments.
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COVID-19 restrictions meant Willis wasn't able to spend as much time as usual with her husband, while they were also forced to spend Christmas Day separately.
The happy couple will be forced apart again in the coming weeks as Smith heads overseas for the Indian Premier League.
Willis told the Daily Telegraph its never easy to say goodbye, but the couple have built something special in their nine-year relationship that can't be broken.
“Steve and I have been together for nine and a half years (married for two), so it’s been quite a while,” she said.
“I always just say communication is key, particularly when you are spending long periods of time apart.
“You’re not going to be there for every birthday, or wedding anniversary, or date night so make sure you still make time each day to Facetime or have a chat on the phone or keep each other up to date on what happened that day.
“It doesn’t matter how mundane it is, whether the dog was being annoying or whether the washing broke down ... Just being completely open and keeping each other informed on what’s happening in your life helps.”
Steve Smith and wife's Christmas Day heartache
Smith and Willis weren't able to see each other from late August until the New Year after Smith went away with the Australian one-day team to England.
Following that was a stint in the United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League, followed by quarantine in Australia prior to the Test series against India.
Partners had been allowed to join players in Cricket Australia's biosecurity bubble after a three-day quarantine, but a coronavirus outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches prior to the MCG Test meant heartbreak for Smith and Willis.
Cricket Australia were forced to change the rules allowing partners into the bubble, meaning Willis had to wait even longer to reunite with Smith, despite dashing to Melbourne from Sydney before Victoria closed its borders to all residents of Greater Sydney.
Just days earlier, Smith had taken to Instagram to celebrate the fact that he was only seven days away from seeing his wife for the first time in months.
Instead, he had to spend Christmas with his Test teammates as they prepared for the annual Boxing Day clash at the MCG.
“114 days down and only 7 to go! It’s been a long 4 1/2 months away from my wife … but I can’t wait for her to join me in Melbourne next week just in time for Christmas!” Smith wrote in what turned out to be a heartbreaking post.
On Christmas Day, Smith posted a throwback photo of him and Willis.
"Merry Christmas everyone! Here’s a throwback to Christmas 2013 with @dani_willis," he wrote.
"Unfortunately many of us aren’t able to celebrate with our loved ones this year. Let’s hope 2021 is a much brighter year for all."
Willis later posted a Christmas Day happy snap with friends.
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