The secret to a happy marriage / What makes a marriage work?
Warning: You may experience a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, throughout the duration of this post.
Getting married to someone is not only a symbolic way of affirming your love for one another, but also a lifelong promise to that person. Most people are familiar with the typical vows of marriage; in sickness and health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse – you know the ones we mean? But what factors actually contribute to a happy and successful marriage?
“Marriage is an adventure of love that takes us through many seasons. The first season is full of attraction and excitement, this does not fade but is overtaken by a deeper understanding and respect. The best marriages mature into something that is increasingly beautiful, the marriage adventure entwines two lovers into a union of common purpose and devotion from which flows a deeper love than anything experienced on the wedding day.”
Graham Dunn, 55, Vicar – married for 29 years
Love is undoubtedly the main reason people choose to get married. Psychologist Zick Rubin suggests that romantic love is comprised of three elements:
- Attachment: the need to receive care, approval and physical contact with the other person
- Caring: Valuing the other person’s happiness and needs as much as your own
- Intimacy: Sharing thoughts, desires and feelings with the other person
We conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people, with differing relationship statuses, to uncover the thoughts and opinions on what they deem important and in particular, how much they think should be spent on an engagement ring and marriage.
Interestingly, we discovered that people in Leeds, Norwich, London and Liverpool are the most likely to spend more than the average (£1,772) on an engagement ring; and the most generous men in the UK are from Brighton, with more than 6% of them saying they would spend around £7.5K !
Many men think women want a flashy, public marriage proposal, but 47% of those surveyed said they would prefer it to take place somewhere intimate and special – even if that was just in bed with the papers on a Sunday morning.
It is fair to say our views on marriage have changed significantly over the years. For example, historically most wedding ceremonies took place in a church, with the bride wearing white, but our survey found that 55% of the women said they would not want a traditional wedding; instead favouring a smaller, civil ceremony with close family and friends only.
And, in the past, most women would take their partner’s last name when they married. But, more than half of the women we surveyed said they would like to keep their maiden name; although the majority of men said they would definitely want them to take their surname.
We asked a variety of couples at different stages in their relationships and marriages, to provide us with quotes on what makes their relationship work and the responses were not only lovely, but in some instances quite surprising.
For example, older people (aged 55+) considered sex to be one of the most important factors of a long and happy marriage; compared to just 10% of younger couples (aged 16-24).
Laughter and communication were two other key ingredients, along with working together to build trust and as well as respecting the other person’s independence or individuality.
Here are some of the stories, which touched our hearts:
“Thinking of yourselves as a team is important. To know you are on the same side and not against each other can change your mindset about certain things. I also think that flexibility and compromise is really important. With my husband being in the military, life is full of compromise, but I don’t hold that against him. ”
Naomi Whitton, 29 – married for 6 months.
“The key to a successful relationship is communication, small displays of affection and being equal partners. And when buying a ring – as much as they can afford… the more the merrier!”
Amy Belger, 23 – engaged since October 2014, wedding July 2016
“I’d say accepting nobody is perfect, although easier said than done, is crucial to long term success. Learning to love and accept those imperfections is vital in every healthy relationship. If you can laugh about it, even better. To me, Ian is imperfectly perfect.”
Laura Miller, 28 – engaged since October 2014
“Living in someone’s pocket won’t, in my eyes, make for a healthy relationship, although you are in a partnership – you were an individual before you met, so you should keep some of that individuality. That and saying I love you every day.”
Ian Morris, 33 – engaged since October 2014
“To begin with you must have similar values, interests and a real attraction towards that person. Then honesty and trust throughout is essential. But most of all you need to bring out the best in one and other.”
Tom Dunn, 25 – in a relationship
“Communication – He understands that my career is important to me and although we need to spend time together as a couple, we should also have time apart doing things we enjoy separately from one another.”
Julia Ogden, 40 – married for 14 years
“Don’t marry someone with the thought that you’re going to change them. Try to see the best in your other half, no matter what they do and always support them – especially if it’s a life-long passion or a way of improving themselves.”
John Baker, 37 – married for 5 ½ years
“Always make sure you make time in your lives to have fun together, no matter how busy life gets.”
Karen Dunn, 48 – married for 29 years