So you have everything in place for your big day and, as long as everything goes to plan, it should be perfect…..but what happens after you get back from honeymoon?
In this day and age most couples have experience of living together before they get married. But that doesn’t automatically mean that marriage is going to be a breeze. We get married assuming we will stay married till death do us part – but the 42% of couples whose marriages have ended in divorce will have once felt the same way.
So is there a special formula or secret behind having a lasting marriage? As all couples are different, it would seem not. But when we hear from long standing couples and ask them the ‘secret of their success’ there does seem to be some common themes.
Here at Ashover Parish Hall Events Centre we have recently celebrated the Diamond Wedding anniversary of local residents David and Molly Chatfield. So who better to ask about secrets behind a successful marriage?
The first thing you notice when you meet David and Molly is their beaming pride in each other and their marriage. They are absolutely delighted to have had such a long and happy marriage and boy does it show.
Molly and David met way back in 1949 when Molly was working as a secretary at David’s dad’s company. After many cinema and sight-seeing dates, including their second date which involved a walk from Dove Dale to Ashbourne (7 miles) after missing the bus, they decided they wanted to get married. However, as they were only 16, the impatient pair were advised by their families to wait until 19 to get engaged and 21 to marry – as that was ‘the done thing’ in those days.
Five years after they first met, David and Molly were finally married in 1954 at St Giles Church in Sandiacre and spent the first night of their honeymoon at The Welcombe Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. David still has the hotel receipt, along with many other wedding related mementoes, which shows the stay cost a grand total of £3!
A perfect family home and a family to fill it soon followed but it hasn’t all been a bed of roses unfortunately. In 1985 David and Molly lost their son, Richard, at the age of 28 in a car crash. ‘That was definitely the worst time’ says Molly. ‘It was awful but we got through it together as a couple and a family. Things like that can bring you closer or push you apart and thankfully it brought us closer’.
As with many things in life communication is the key: ‘we coped by working together, talking to each other and being thankful for what we do have’.
David also credits joint interests for keeping their marriage strong; ‘We both enjoy gardening, golf and getting involved with activities in the local community so we always have a lot of talk about and do together’.
‘We all have ups and downs but it’s how you handle them. You have to be prepared to give and take. You have to go into a marriage willing to compromise’ Molly explains, ‘you can’t expect to have everything your own way. It takes some time to adjust to marriage and you both have to be willing to get along and make it work’.
Many marriages come under pressure when babies come along but David and Molly managed to keep their marriage strong by working together (are you seeing a common theme here?). ‘David was always very good with the children’ says Molly, ‘Having a family is challenging, as any parent knows, but that’s just what it’s like having small children. The joy they bring far outweighs the difficult bits and David was always very supportive’.
‘We went out as a family every Sunday’ explains David, ‘that was our time to have fun, relax and enjoy spending time together’.
So now in their retirement, David and Molly have all the time in the world to potter in the garden and enjoy their shared interests. ‘But we aren’t in each other’s pockets’ says Molly ‘we have our own interests and friends and I think that is very important. We never run out of things to talk about as our interests are so varied’.
In celebration of their diamond wedding anniversary, the manager of The Welcome Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, where they spent the first night of their honeymoon, has kindly invited David and Molly back for another overnight stay. The charge? The same as it cost back in 1954 – £3! A special treat for a special couple who are an example to us all.
The 10 C’s of marriage
Firstly, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the secrets of a happy marriage. But through my own experiences (good, bad and terrible), the experiences of people close to me (good and bad), searching the web and speaking to David and Molly, I have come up with a few things that may be helpful once you are home from honeymoon.
Communicate – make an effort to talk about how you feel. There are no fast rules but the slightly clichéd ‘don’t go to bed on an argument’ is a cliché for reason – it’s good advice. Some people (okay – it’s often the men), don’t like to talk about how they feel, but if the alternative is bottled things up and sulking, then it’s important to loosen those lips. It’s also important to talk about your outlook on life before you get married to make sure you are on the same page, which leads on to….
Compromise – you may have been brought up very differently and this could cause conflict about how you do things at home. While you are a young couple with freedom these things may not be such an issue but, if you are planning on having children for example, you need to be on the same page in terms of how to raise them. If you have totally opposing views on something it’s important to find a solution before saying ‘I do’ as it’s unlikely the issue will just disappear. Compromise means coming to a mutually agreeable solution – something you can both live with. You may still think you’re right and he’s wrong, but it can often be better to try and merge your ideas until you hit on something that satisfies both of you, rather than one of you feeling slighted or angry – It’s not about who wins. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your partner. No marriage is absolutely perfect in every way but as long as you love each other you should be able to find solutions through compromise and communication.
Common interests – You may already have many common interests. It may even have been how you met. However, as your marriage goes on and work, family and life in general get in the way, it’s important to set aside time to enjoy things together as a couple rather than as ‘mum and dad’, ‘daughter and SIL’ or members of a social group. Or maybe you are like chalk and cheese and don’t have any shared interests? If this is the case, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and find something you both enjoy to help keep your marriage strong through the hard times (because there most likely will be some).
Compliments – many marriages break up because a couple realise they are more like friends than lovers. It’s important to keep the romance alive and this takes some effort. Compliments are a great way of making each other feel loved and appreciated. Even if it’s just something like ‘this lasagna tastes amazing – you are such a great cook’, it will let your partner know you don’t take them for granted.
Co-production – A lot of failed marriages end in resentment because one person feels they do more, and make more effort, than the other. This could apply to housework, household admin, looking after children, earning money, organising holidays, etc etc. It’s important to share responsibilities equally as well as appreciating what your partner brings to the table. If you feel you are doing more than your fair share it’s important to talk about it – don’t bottle it up as you will just feel resentful. A good relationship relies on teamwork and sharing responsibilities equally – not leaving one person in charge of everything.
Comedy – A couple that can laugh together stay together – so they say. Laughter is good for the soul and sharing a sense of humour will certainly make things easier. Make sure you fully understand what makes your partner laugh and try to have a good giggle together every day.
Clashes – Most married couples clash on occasion (unless you are Molly and David who say the most they have ever done in 60 years of marriage is bicker slightly) but what is important is how you resolve any disagreements. Hopefully, you will have worked out each other’s outlook on life before you get hitched so you don’t run into any major problems in the future that you can’t resolve.
Common courtesy – It may seem overly simplistic but remembering to extend small common courtesies to your spouse such as saying please and thank you, calling or texting when you’re going to be late, offering to make dinner when the other person is super-stressed, etc. will go a long way in making your marriage work. No one likes to feel under-appreciated (or worse, not appreciated at all), so if you both make a point to show appreciation towards each other, it will be much easier to keep your relationship healthy and minimize potential resentment. Resentment often starts when one person feels they pull more weight than the other or that what they do goes unnoticed. Be nicer to each other to avoid this trap.
Changes – Over the course of a marriage things will change. This could be anything from one or both of you changing careers, moving house or taking up new hobbies. Sometimes seeing a change in your spouse is disconcerting when you have got comfortable with the status quo but it is natural that our lives move forward. Again it is important to communicate any fears or worries you have and explain to your partner how you feel – they can’t reassure you if they don’t know how you feel.
Cuddles – As a married couple in many ways you will be best friends and work as a team but it is still important to show love to each other. Cuddles and kisses will keep the romance alive and show your partner that you are still in love with them. In all honesty, maintaining physical affection will go along way to making sure that you do stay in love.
All these things may sound pretty obvious when you sit down and think about it – and they are. But plenty of marriages split because a couple have ‘drifted apart’ and aren’t close anymore. You hear about wives getting fed up of their husbands not pulling their weight. You get husbands getting disheartened because their wife no longer shows them any affection. These things do happen – even to couples who were totally in love on their wedding day. Marriage takes work but that bit of graft is so worth it if you can maintain a long, happy marriage like David and Molly have done.
If you are planning a wedding, wedding anniversary or any other type of event in the Derbyshire area, make sure you check out our website to see if we fit the bill. Our ‘your event’ section gives you all the details about what we can offer to make sure your celebration is unforgettable.
Thanks for reading!
Update – David and Molly have now returned from their £3 surprise stay at the Welcombe Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon and report that they had an ‘absolutely fabulous’ time. They were treated like royalty and allocated the bridal suite complete with flowers and champagne awaiting their arrival. ‘I’ve never drunk so much champagne!’ says Molly, ‘we’ve been celebrating our anniversary since June and we still have another celebration to come! It’s been wonderful’.
Suzanne Draper, Sales Manager at the hotel, stated “We thought it would be a lovely idea to offer Mr and Mrs Chatfield the same rate as they paid back in 1954. It has been a pleasure to have made the couple’s diamond wedding anniversary so special and we’re delighted they came back to The Welcombe to mark the occasion”.
After featuring in the Ashover Parish Magazine, the Matlock Mercury and the Derbyshire Times, the couple are getting quite used to seeing themselves in the papers but were still delighted to be featured in the Mid-week Stratford Herald and the hotel website. ‘We had our photographs taken in the beautiful hotel grounds’ explains David, ‘we got chatting to a lovely American couple who, after hearing why we were having our picture taken, said they would never forget us’.
I can’t think of a couple who deserve it more. Congratulations David and Molly, from everyone here at Ashover Parish Hall Events Centre.