Beyond Happily Ever After: Experts Share The Secret To A Lasting Marriage
By Rosy Edwards Posted on 17 May 2018
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (OK, London) a beautiful maiden called Meghan was preparing to marry a handsome prince called Harry.
Their wedding had the townspeople enthralled. For weeks, they speculated about the wedding dress and the wedding cake, the wedding band and the wedding flowers, until the word ‘wedding’ was trending on ye olde Twitter and it was all anyone could talk about.
As fairy tales go, the royal wedding has it all – and I love a wedding as much as the next townsperson. But at risk of being thrown in the Tower, I want to talk about what comes next – after the confetti has been cleared and the honeymoon is over: marriage. We all want ‘happily ever after’ but, with the length of an average marriage just under 12 years, how do you make it last?
Like Meghan, I too have found my prince (I was a bit sick in my mouth as I wrote that). We have been together nearly three years after a Tinder date went right. He is attractive, funny and kind – the one virtue my mother advised me to value above all else. We have discussed getting married, and I’d like to, but I want my marriage to last and the odds are against us. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that divorce rates rose between opposite-sex couples in 2016, with a 5.8% increase compared with 2015. Divorce is also more prevalent among same-sex couples, with a fivefold increase over the same period. When you consider the average cost of a wedding is £27,161*, you don’t get much marital bliss for your buck.
I also know the pain divorce causes. My parents split when I was 11, a bitter and protracted break-up that broke all of our hearts. It was enough to put me off marriage for life, until I met the person I want to spend my life with. There has to be a secret to making marriage last; I am on a quest to find it.
For James Preece, award-winning dating guru, the secret is to ‘accept [your partner] completely for who they are. Neither of you is perfect so set a plan for what you want to happen over the coming years. Remember: you are a team and must work together to face what life throws at you.’
Accept each other’s flaws and plan ahead – got it. Both sound doable, maybe marriage isn’t so hard after all?
Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist and couples counsellor, argues that the secret, in fact, is to deal with the past. ‘Resentment is the one feature that all unhappy or broken marriages seem to share,’ she says. ‘A key part of my work is creating a safe space for both parties to explore what’s been stored up in the relationship over the years; to delve into what’s going rancid in the cellar of the relationship, to bring this icky stuff to the surface and gently start tipping it away. Without this acknowledgement, a marriage will invariably pay the price.’
OK, so the secret to a successful marriage is: accept the flaws, think about the future, but also deal with the past. Sounds like hard work, but I’m up for it. I mention my quest to a long-married family friend. ‘You need to have things in common,’ she notes. ‘Also, try not to put your individual needs much above the relationship. And you need to be patient, but commitment is more important.’
Accept the flaws. Think ahead and look back. Be patient, be committed, have things in common and… something about a cellar?
When I put the question to friends, opinions pour in. Give each other space, said one. A clear division of chores, said another. Tolerance, and take a lot of holidays, advised a third, at which point I wanted to book a holiday just to get away from all the conflicting ideals.
But, with my quest at its end – and my own potential wedding still a twinkle in
an engagement ring – I’ve discovered that the secret to a long and happy marriage is… there is no secret. I know: as predictable
as a Disney romance. There is no single, standard solution because there is no single, standard type of marriage. What works for one couple won’t work for the next; what’s important to Meghan and her prince may not matter to me and mine.
Wait a minute… my prince! In trying to find the secret to marriage, I hadn’t asked the one person who does matter most to me. So last night, I asked my boyfriend: what do you think makes marriage last? He thought about it and after a long pause said, ‘I don’t know,’ and gave me a kiss. I guess we’ll just have to work it out together.
NOW READ: Prince Harry And Meghan Markle’s Relationship Timeline
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met in London in July 2016.
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They were introduced by mutual friend Markus Anderson, who is the director of Soho House.
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In October 2016, the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend.
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On November 8th 2016, Kensington Palace released an unprecedented statement which referring to Markle as Harry’s girlfriend for the first time.
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In the statement, Prince Harry condemned the ‘wave of abuse and harrassment’ faced by Markle, saying that he was ‘worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.’
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‘It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm,’ the statement continued.
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The couple were papped together for the first time in December 2016, shopping for a Christmas tree in London at the Pines and Needles store.
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Later that week, they were seen on London’s West End, catching a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
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In February, Prince Harry wore a his ‘n’ hers bracelet on the cover of Town & Country magazine, just weeks after Markle was pictured wearing the same one on Instagram.
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In March 2017, Meghan joined Prince Harry in the Caribbean for the wedding of his friend’s Tom ‘Skippy’ Inskip and Lara Hughes-Young.
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It was the first time that Markle accompanied Harry to a wedding, marking another milestone occasion for the couple.
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The first public event attended by the couple was the polo at Coworth Park in May 2017.
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Later in May, Markle attended the party portion of Pippa Middleton’s wedding to James Middelton.
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Prince Harry was seen driving her to the event after the church ceremony.
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The couple made their first official public appearance in September, when Markle attended the opening of Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.
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Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands Aritzia.
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She teamed it with a matching burgundy biker jacket by Mackage.
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Although Prince Harry was sat next to First Lady Melania Trump at the event, rather than his girlfriend, she was only seated a few rows behind him.
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The couple were photographed together the following day at the wheelchair tennis.
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Much was made of Markle’s choice of outfit: ripped jeans and a white blouse called ‘The Husband’.
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The couple ‘broke with royal protocol’ by holding hands and appearing affectionate while at the Invictus Games.
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Prince Harry reportedly spent time with Meghan’s mother Doria while at the Games too.
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The couple indulged in some PDA at the closing ceremony.
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Prince Harry was photographed kissing Meghan.
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In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan referred to Harry as her boyfriend numerous times, saying: ‘We’re a couple. We’re in love. I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.’
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In late September 2017, it was reported that Meghan had met the Queen, prompting speculation that the relationship was getting serious.
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In early November 2017, it was reported that Meghan Markle was leaving Suits after seven series.
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In mid-November 2017, bookies suspending betting on an impending royal engagement, as speculation grew that an announcement was about to be made.
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On November 27th 2017, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating.
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The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label. The website has subsequently crashed.
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The engagement ring, by Cleave and Company, was reportedly designed by Prince Harry himself, using two stones that belonged to Princess Diana.
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When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked ‘of course!’
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