“A good marriage is made up of a thousand small kindnesses,” – that’s from Trudy, who has been married for 35 years.
“Always find something to laugh about, “ says Dawn, married 32 years. “Have separate bathrooms,” says Connie, married for 44 years.
“Seek to do good for the other person,” says Dave, married for 32 years.
“Love is like a boomerang,” says Don, who has been married to his sweetheart Estelle for 50 years, “throw it at your spouse and you’ll find it coming right back at you.”
The news today from a Deakin University report that the first year of marriage was often the unhappiest didn’t really come as a surprise, did it?
There’s that enormous lead up to the big wedding day, the thousands and thousands of dollars spent, the months planning, the vows and speeches pored over for inordinate lengths of time – it’s a climax of celebration, from which the only way is …down?
The report’s lead author, Dr Melissa Weinberg, told smh.com.au she was suprised because “the perception is that newlywed couples should be the happiest, but that’s not the case.”
The honeymoon period, it seems, finishes at the end of the actual honeymoon.
The good news is that things improve in the second year of marriage, then (for women at least) they peak with happiness at the five year mark, then wedded bliss peaks again after the forty year mark.
That’s a long time between peaks. Forty years?
Which got us thinking about the secrets to a long and happy marriage. There are some immutable elements like mutual trust and respect, but how to achieve ongoing happiness in love can be a mystery.
A good clue might come from Gordon Livinsgton, a US psychotherapist and author who has spent 40 years listening to unhappy married couples in his practice. His definition of true love is instructive: “You love someone when the importance of his or her needs and desires rises to the level of our own.”
What else makes a relationship work. Is it humour? The art of compromise and flexibility? A good sex life?
According to a University of Michigan study, “having enough space or privacy in a relationship is more important for a couples happiness than having a good sex life.”
Barbara Streisand concurs here, according to the Huffington Post, she recently said the secret of success in her marriage to James Brolin is the amount of time they spend apart – that their absences make the heart grow fonder.
But they’ve been married for a mere 14 years, which makes them seem like newlyweds next to this couple, below, who have been married for 72 years.
Selma and Kenny made a video for a grandchild’s wedding and gave their top five tips for a happy marriage which, surprisingly, were actually very practical. They include: make sure you have food in your fridge, always have a clean house, travel as much as you can, go to bed happy after fights.
What about you?
What are your tips for relationship success? Have you passed the magic peak of forty years? What would be your best marriage advice?