The key to a happy marriage

14 Feb 2019

How to enjoy a long-lasting relationship this Valentine’s Day and beyond

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Image gallery

Every bride wants their marriage to have the fairytale ending. The reality is that every couple will have their ups and downs. So, what’s the secret to a long and happy relationship?

Explore is an educational charity which helps young people explore long-term positive, healthy relationships via conversations with married couples. Many of the couples have been married for more than 25 years, and so - to mark Valentine's Day - the charity wanted to know the secrets to their success. Here's what the couples had to say...

1. Romance is great, but not enough on its own

Saying “I love you” was something that all Explore’s couples said was important – but that this good old-fashioned romance also needs to be combined with conversation, commitment and trust. “For us, our relationship is based on trust, fun, commitment and being prepared to work at it,” confirmed Heather and Rob Williams from Romford in Essex

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Above: Heather and Rob

2. Shared values are vital

Believing in and valuing the same things was something that many of the couples stated was important. For example, Rosie and Graham Simpson from Winchester in Hampshire said that this was one of the reasons why they loved volunteering with Explore. “It gives us the opportunity to say positive things about each other that the other might not have realised we thought. It reminds us of our shared values and goals.”

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Above: Rosie and Graham

3. Without trust, it’s going nowhere

The list has to include trust, say Zoe and Ben Wheeler from Tadley in Hampshire. “Our relationship has deepened over time, and we enjoy reflecting on how far we’ve come and what we’ve shared together,” they said.

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Above: Zoe and Ben 

4. Don’t hold a grudge

Forgive and forget, the old saying goes. And when it comes to married life, this is even more important. Grudges only serve to make a problem worse. They don’t make us feel better or heal our hurt. Pam and Alan Cheesley Hollinshead in Higher Bebington in Wirral agree: “Being honest with each other and never letting an argument drag on have definitely contributed to our relationship’s success.”

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Above: Pam and Alan

Laurie and Patricia Gill from Glossop in Derbyshire shared similar advice – they were able to reconcile their relationship after a split some 30 years ago by focusing on forgiveness, constant learning and not being judgemental.

5. Communication is key

When you have a problem in your relationship that you’ve chosen not to share with your partner, you contribute more towards the problem than you realise. Learning how to effectively communicate with your partner will strengthen the trust, honesty and respect you have for each other and the relationship. This is true of all couples, including Joyce and Kwame Kusi-Obodum from Salisbury in Wiltshire, who said it was one of the most important elements of their long-lasting relationship.

6. Don’t forget to have fun

Several of the couples mentioned the need to enjoy life together, be it sharing the same hobbies, going on holiday together or spending time with friends and family. Angus and Joanna Somerville of Swanmore in Hampshire said: “We’re best friends, which reflects our commitment, trust and patience with each other and the fun we have.”

David and Aba Shields from Bassett in Southampton added to this claiming the secrets to their relationship's success and longevity are praying together, making quality time together, attending a retreat once a year, taking regular confession and enjoying the warmth and love of their families and special friends.

7. The most important quality of all – love

All our couples agreed that love is at the heart of a successful marriage. Nicki and Mark Beaumont from Otterbourne in Hampshire said: “We have been able to achieve a long-lasting relationship thanks to our commitment to each other and our determination to make it work. Our love is unconditional.”

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Above: Nicki and Mark

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