Have you heard?

People are actually staying together longer.

The percentage of marriages which end in divorce in the first ten years has fallen from 49 per cent in 1980 to 42 per cent

in 2011 while the number of marriages that fail after 20 years is increasing – from 20 to 28per cent over the same period.


Now don’t be confused – it is not that longer marriages are failing more now than in the past.

Rather, it is the case that people are staying together longer before deciding to call it quits.

It would be fascinating to speculate on why this is happening. Perhaps the large number of

people who live together before they finally decide to marry means that they know the other

person better; the first flush of hormones have indeed flushed through the system and so

there is perhaps not the let down as romantic love turns into long-term commitment. Is it that

at long last women are feeling more fulfilled in their relationships with more scope to do the

things that make their lives and careers satisfying?

Are relationships more balanced and equal?

Well, many would probably argue “not yet”.


Any ideas? I would love to hear them.


However, that is not why I am writing today (though I may return at some time and have

a discussion on that topic). Rather I want to look at how we might encourage this healthy

trend. What can we do to keep our relationships fresh and keep the spark alight?

Now a lot of people might say “break the routine” and there is something in that, but actually

I think we also need to build some ritual into our relationships.


Here are my 5 tips on things we might do to keep our relationships firm and enduring.


1. Build rituals. What are the special things you do together that set you apart? Work

on them. They might be putting your husband’s cuff links on when he has that type of shirt

– a small act of intimacy. Or it might be celebrating the anniversary of the first date you

went on. Or it might be coffee and a croissant in bed to start the morning, sharing a moment



2. Give each other space; support your partner in that and don’t feel threatened. We

all need space and while it is important we share, we do not need to share everything. You

and your partner have to be your own selves.

”Stand together but not too near together

For the pillars of the temple stand apart

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” ― Khalil Gibran,

3. Surprise each other on occasion. Don’t let your relationship become too routine.

Slip out of your comfort zone into something different. Take a mystery weekend trip away.

Go water-skiing. If you only watch TV, go to the movies or the theatre or an art gallery.

Perhaps a small present for no particular reason.


4. Make time for each other. We all lead incredibly busy lives and it’s so easy for our

contact to become perfunctory. Have a family meal each week. Schedule a date. Take

a picnic lunch to the gardens. Go for a bike ride together. Take up a hobby or a class

together, pottery, wine appreciation, French, golf, the possibilities are endless. Read one of

your favourite books together, each page by page. Be silly and laugh together.


5. Keep in touch. Touch is a wonderful sense. Do you remember the rush of

adrenalin when first you touched your partner? Hold hands: even when you are mad at

each other, just touch. Whether it’s in bed or out of bed. Just the simple act of touching one

another can help put things right – and when right, a whole lot better!

And, of course, all these are ways of keeping communication between you and your

partner open and hopefully non-judgemental, because when all is said and done, a good

relationship is built on good communication.

“Little kindness and courtesies are so important in relationships, the little things are the BIG things” Stephen R.Covey

 Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.”Stephen R. Covey