After the dismal marking of Divorce Week last month, it is wonderful to be celebrating commitment with Marriage Week in February. Fittingly finishing its seven-day run on Valentine’s Day, it is a chance for every happy couple to shout about how great it is being married – and maybe for those not in the best place to approach sorting out their differences with renewed vigour.
There is no secret ingredient to a good marriage. It is a combination of factors and each couple is different. It was interesting to hear David Beckham talking about his marriage to Victoria last week. He acknowledged that it was hard work, but worth it.
What makes a marriage work?
Family law specialists perhaps see more than most the bad things that affect marriages. This means they can give some insight into common things that are missing from those marriages that breakdown. So, we asked our team of family lawyers what things make a marriage work and pulled together some of the insights.
Communication – the ability to communicate, and the willingness to do so, came through very loud and clear. Without this, there is no hope!
A sense of humour – almost all mentioned this. It may seem like an unimportant trait but the ability to laugh together and not take everything too seriously can significantly help a couple get through tricky patches.
Belief that marriage is important – if only one party feels this, the relationship is going to struggle because only one will put their heart and soul into it. You need to agree that your life together is important and commit to doing what you can to make it work.
Active listening – don’t just listen, but hear. Take on board what is being said by each other, understand it and act on it where you can.
Make time for each other – this is easy to say but less easy to do, particularly when you have children, jobs, extended family and everything else to juggle. Just making that space to spend time with each other though can go a long way.
Don’t compare to social media – don’t feel your relationship is somehow broken if it doesn’t live up to the idyllic posts of friends on Facebook or Twitter. The likelihood is that they are only showcasing the good and missing out the bad. It is an unrealistic picture you would be trying to live up to. See social media posts of this for what they often are – wildly aspirational even for the people who post them!
Trust - the moment you start being deceitful is the point where cracks start to appear which will only get bigger if you don't properly deal with them.
Of course, we cannot carry all the insights here. Some feel shared interests are good, others feel different interests work better, and it is always important to ensure that you unload the dishwasher! However, a good marriage is worth working for and that’s what Marriage Week is all about.
Thanks to Tamara Glanvill, Karen Agnew-Griffith, Ian Giddings, Claudette Jaggard-Inglis, Kimberley Bailey and Sue Harwood for their thoughts in compiling this blog.
Woolley & Co, Solicitors