Jonathan Trenberth was at his lowest when he met the love of his life, Josh Martyn, on Tinder during lockdown. "I'd hit rock bottom," confesses Jono, who appeared on the 2019 season of Married At First Sight NZ.
"My health was really bad and I'd lost my job on the back of a pandemic, right after being on a reality show, which was traumatic in itself. Then I lost someone really close to me and my mental health was in the gutter. I felt I didn't have anything to offer anyone. But now I'm glad I went through everything because I'm happy with where I've landed."
Newly engaged, Jono, 35, and Josh, 34, excitedly share the moment the reality star popped the question during a glamping trip in a beautiful valley just outside Waitomo. Laughing, Josh recalls, "Jono told me he'd booked a romantic getaway. I was a bit suspicious, but I didn't want to count my chickens before they hatched."
Jono continues, "I was 95% certain he was going to say yes, but that 5% of doubt made me nervous. It poured down with rain the first day, so we just snuggled by the fire. By the time the weather cleared, I was like a balloon about to pop.
"I told Josh he should take a nap, which gave me time to pour some bubbles and set up a camera to capture the moment. When I got him up, I said, 'I've been meaning to ask you a question…' and then we both tried to hold it together while I mumbled out the speech I'd been practising. I was an excited mess, but luckily he said yes."
Now the pair – who share a dog named Artemis – are in the thick of wedding plans, house renovations and running two businesses together. There's also talk of starting a family.
"I get emotional just talking about it," Jono admits. "I was so down and out, I couldn't have imagined the things Josh and I have achieved together in such a short time. I try to tell him every single day how grateful I am. He's made me feel like I won the lottery."
The timing couldn't have been more perfect when Jono and Josh connected.
Josh lives in Waihi, two hours south of Jono's home base of Auckland, but COVID restrictions prevented them from meeting for three months.
Getting to know each other over FaceTime was something the couple now see as a blessing as it came without the stress of dating. Jono recalls, "We talked every day. One time, I remember I meant to say goodbye but accidentally said, 'OK, love you!' I hadn't even met him."
Josh laughs, "I bashfully said, 'I love you too,' then when the borders opened up, Jono surprised me by showing up on my doorstep. I was renovating and our first date was tiling the kitchen!"
Jono had just thrown himself into his new business, Pooped! Professional Dog Walking, after losing his marketing job and, with a master's degree in business, Josh was in the perfect position to help.
"Josh is a very smart cookie," says Jono. "When he met me, he said, 'This business of yours has some legs. Would you be interested in help?' He didn't want to step on my toes, but I was like, 'Yes, absolutely!' Then he opened his laptop and had a detailed plan on exactly how we could take it to the next level."
The couple have been working on Pooped! for the past 12 months. They went from a one-man operation to now hiring a third employee.
"Josh does all the things he finds exciting, like invoicing and finance, while I do the operations and anything creative," explains Jono.
Following the success of Pooped!, they've also started a business called Gro Mortgages, a boutique mortgage and financial advice provider. Besides being a Hauraki District councillor, Josh is also a registered mortgage broker. Jono says, "Josh is passionate about helping people into their first homes, while I do the marketing."
Jono commutes from Auckland to Waihi every Friday and spends weekends working on the house with Josh. They hope it will one day become a nest.
"We've both always wanted to have a family," says Josh. "We're lucky to have an egg donor and we've had a few meetings with our fertility clinic. Now we just need a surrogate, which is a huge ask, but we're trying to find the right person."
For now, though, Jono and Josh are happy with their home, businesses and, of course, Artemis. Anything outside of that is a bonus.
"Honestly, I just love where we're at," says Jono. "I feel like Josh and I have been looking for each other for a long time. We're on the same page of the same chapter of the same book. We're both ready for everything that we want to achieve."
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