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Happy Ever After

Happy Ever After
For many couples their wedding day is the fairytale, where you are the Prince and Princess for the day. But what happens after the honeymoon, when the memory of the day has faded? How do you live happily ever after? In any marriage the wedding is just the start of the story, there will be a lot of hard work ahead. The musical “Into The Woods”, due to be released as a film in December, gives a twisted view of what happens after the fairytale ending, but the reality can be so different. In February it was National Marriage Week, where individuals and organisations were challenged to focus on how the relationship can grow and flourish into a healthy marriage. Marriage is good for us – research in both the UK and Australia shows that married people are happier than singles, so it really is worth making the marriage work. All couples start out with good intentions and very few will imagine that their marriage will be one of the estimated 42% that end in divorce. There will be times, however, when the strongest marriage comes under stress. Typically it is when children arrive, when the children leave home or at retirement, but stress in the relationships can come from unemployment, change of job, caring for relatives, ill-health, financial concerns and a myriad of other issues. Before you know it that person who was your best friend and soul mate has become someone distant and unrecognisable. So here are some of the things you need to think about to make your marriage survive: • Tolerance and acceptance – nobody is perfect and you have to accept your partner for what they are. If you want things to change, change yourself and your partner may well follow. Say you are sorry if things go wrong. • Commitment – marriage should be approached as a life-long commitment. You owe that to your spouse, your family and yourself. • Good manners – don’t take each other for granted and appreciate your other half. Thank them for the things they do, tell them you love them and respect their feelings. • Care for each other by being attentive to each other, sharing hugs and holding hands. • Listen to what your partner is saying and pay attention to how they are saying it. Keep on communicating and don’t get defensive. Try to sit down with a cup of tea regularly to talk over issues before they get to breaking point. • Allow each other space to develop interests, but support your partner in those interests. Self-fulfilment allows you to love yourself and let other people love you. • Laugh together, make sure your life is fun where possible and have your own little jokes • Plan things together – make a list of what you would like to do together such as holidays, hobbies, walks, meals. Talk about what you can to do together when the children leave home or when you retire. Have things to look forward to. • Celebrate – your love for each other is a wonderful thing. Make sure you celebrate it by going out on dates regularly, writing love letters, making unexpected gestures. Build up the happy memories you have together, because these can help you through the harder times. As part of the celebration you should share your achievement with family and friends. Anniversaries, particularly Silver weddings (25 years), Ruby Weddings (40), Golden (50) and Diamond (60), are popular milestones. As people live longer new milestones are coming up: I know someone who has now celebrated two silver weddings and another couple approaching their 65th (blue sapphire) wedding anniversary. Surely a cause for celebration.