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Secrets of a long and happy marriage

June 1st, 2005

Dr Petra

A record-breaking UK couple are celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary today. Percy and Florence Arrowsmith (aged 105 and 100 respectively) were married in Hereford on 1 June 1925 and have been together ever since. They put the secret of their long-lived marriage down to two words – “yes dear”.

I’m often asked to talk about secrets of marriage success. Unfortunately there’s not really enough research on marriage, so many ideas come from anecdotes, or cases like Percy and Florence. Of the research that exists, people who’ve enjoyed long, happy marriages have attributed their relationship success to one major factor.

Being friends.

Friendship, the ability to communicate, problem solve and share common values are all factors that can enliven a marriage.

Arguing isn’t necessarily a barrier. If you can resolve disputes it’s healthier than bottling up resentments or rowing with no resolution. Percy Arrowsmith agrees. In an interview he told reporters he and his wife never go to bed without resolving their disagreements.

And cuddles, kisses and compliments never go amiss. Mr and Mrs Arrowsmith always share a good night kiss and hold hands in bed.

So if you want a happy marriage the answer may be having an idea about what you and your partner want from your life together, reviewing it regularly and being able to tell each other what you love about each other (as well as any problems).

If you and your partner are just starting out on married life, and want to be as happy as Percy and Florence, you may find Monica Mendel Leahy’s book “1001 questions to ask before marriage” can help you identify what you want from your marriage and how to make it happen.

And congratulations to record breaking relationship role models – Mr and Mrs Arrowsmith!

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