Wedded wisdom from Got Wed couples
Relationship advice from newly weds
Who knows more about marriage than the happily married? Read on for words of wedded wisdom from our past Got Wed couples
Over the past 50 issues, we've interviewed hundreds of couples for our Got Wed pages, all of them full of positivity and high hopes of what marriage would bring. Now we've gone back and asked some of them what married life is like, whether it lives up to their expectations, and what lessons they've learnt along the way...
"I want to be the best version of myself for the most important person in my life."
Ariko and Jamie married at Boconnoc in 2016.
Jamie: "No one can tell you what marriage is, because it's different for everyone. I can tell you what it is for us: it is to try as hard as you can every day to make it work. To hold realistic expectations about what you need from each other. To make time for each other; especially when all the other parts of your life are being overrun. And make coffee in the morning - that helps too! The early years have been a challenge for us both in many ways, but she has been my one constant and that has helped, and I think I have been hers."
Ariko: "I've been pleasantly surprised that marriage has been easier and better than I expected. I have a determination to do my darn hardest to be the best I can be, and to put effort and energy into making Jamie my number one priority and making him happy.
"The feeling of certainty that comes along with being married is really beautiful."
Holly and Neil married at The Green in 2018.
Holly: "For me, marriage was always about a partnership, a shared life. It's been amazing, without sounding too sickly! Marrying someone you've known for 25 years does make it easy to be honest. Being married feels more intertwined and connected. The feeling of solidity and certainty that comes along with being married is really beautiful."
Neil: "It's been unbelievably brilliant. It's a million times better than anything I could have imagined. I have never known a happiness and peace like it. It's really quite grounding for the rest of life."
Holly: "A wedding doesn't make a marriage. You still always have to treat each other with love and respect always. We started the idea of a suggestion box - just a phrase, not a literal box - for those little things that niggle. We really don't use it very often but if there's something bothering us we use the 'SB'. It takes the stress out of bringing up those little things."
"When you have your soulmate by your side, you can conquer anything and everything."
Ashley and Keith married at Hotel Endsleigh in 2017.
Ashley: "I don't think either of us had pre-conceptions of married life - we both just expected to marry our best friend and soulmate. Since we've been married, we've been undergoing and juggling so many momentous life events due to the fact that I've relocated to England from America to be with Keith. After our wedding, we went through the process of me learning to drive on the opposite side of the road, finding a temporary job, moving house, finding a proper job in my field, and are now currently in the process of buying our first home. It has been a bustling and eventful year-and-a-half!
We've been going through so many life changes that would naturally bring on stress, yet everything seems to have made us stronger and brought us closer together than ever before. These events, although simultaneously exciting yet stressful, have led us to the point where we are now: with a solid foundation for the next chapter of our life together.
"This is your forever person and that's that. Knowing that brought a true calmness to my life."
Emily and Bob married at Coombe Trenchard in 2016.
Emily: "Like most hopeless romantics, my preconception of married life was a solid, contented one. It was a commitment to continuing to build a life together and I hoped that being a married woman would be as comforting as it was exciting.
Being married, I feel very secure but still myself, still my own person within a really awesome partnership. It's nice to have a live-in, legally-bound best friend who has to hang out with you all the time and never watch Netflix without you. We have had a beautiful, hilarious, loud daughter and I feel immensely proud to be both her mummy and my husband's wife.
Being married is different in that it's official - official that this is your forever person and that's that. Knowing that brought a true calmness to my life. But it's also the same; the same happiness you find in each other, the same supermarket shop, the same silly arguments about your other half putting your things 'away' to never be found again. It's a lovely way to solidify and celebrate your togetherness but it doesn't change the intrinsic unique 'you-ness' that you have as a pair.
"Marriage means looking to each other in a storm and knowing that support is always there to fall back on"
Jess and Jake married at Pendennis Castle in 2013.
Jess: "I already felt very committed and happy in our relationship but I think marriage made it feel more formal and 'official'... and it made it harder for him to leave! I didn't think it would change anything fundamental in any way. However, it has differed to my expectations in many ways. I think before we got married I thought about marriage from a romance perspective - would it make us love one another more or spend more time being romantic together? It hasn't really. However, what marriage has done is draw us closer together when things haven't been so great. Navigating the challenges of having a young family, hardships and bereavements has made our marriage much stronger, as we have learned to lean on each other and pull from each person's strength. Rather than seeing marriage as simply a date night or breakfast in bed, we've learned that marriage means sticking together when all else is lost - looking to each other in a storm and knowing that support is always there to fall back on.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that of all marriages that ended in divorce, approximately half occurred in the first 10 years, with the most common grounds for opposite-sex couples documented as "unreasonable behaviour." So how couples weather those early years of marriage largely determines both its success and longevity, meaning that you must invest time and effort to ensure your marriage receives the best chance possible.
Mary Clegg, clinical director of The Mary Clegg Clinic (maryclegg.co.uk), which provides relationship support and counselling, draws attention to the vital importance of early and everyday relationship management. "Seek help soon and have regular MOTs, and think about how your marriage is doing," she says. "Go on a date and verbalise. Couples tend not to discuss their problems, but don't sweep it under the carpet because it will only fester."
A core focus on each other along with a frank and truth-bearing assessment of marriage emphasises Mary's additional advice about finding a unique approach to individually suit - in short "do more of what works and less of what doesn't," she says. "The advice from my father was always 'don't go to bed on an argument', but I'd say what's more important is to agree to try to resolve it," she continues. "There's good evidence that couples who resolve issues and peace-make stay together."
Whether you're in the throes of grief, post-wedding blues, or experiencing more psychologically deep-seated issues, Mary's top advice - as preventative action as much as to pinpoint your problems toward a route of resolution - is to see a relationship therapist. "They work in a different way to other therapists and you'll be given tools and taught how to be proactive," she explains.
Despite the trials of the early years of marriage, they are often looked back on as the most joyous and filled with intimacy and discovery. Come rain or shine, keep returning to what first united you as a couple in order to build the foundation for a lifelong, happy and meaningful marriage.
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