Friday 19 December 2014

Secrets of living happily ever after

Our expert guide to keeping the magic in your marriage.

Newlyweds: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel
Newlyweds: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel
Actor and singer Justin Timberlake and actress Jessica Biel
Intimate: Bob and Charlotte have nothing to lose by revealing their real selves in 'Lost in Translation'

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have decided to 'uncouple' after 10 years of marriage, Halle Berry has been spotted out without her wedding ring after just eight months wed to Olivier Martinez and Justin Timberlake's granny is worried about how much time he's spending with his new wife Jessica Biel.

If the beautiful, rich and successful folks of Hollywood can't make it work – what hope is there for the rest of us?

We live in an era of marital strife with separation increasing six-fold in Ireland since 1986.

Despite spending more and more time trying to find love – signing up to dating apps like Tinder and online matchmaking sites – many of us find it hard to hold on to once the 'I dos' are over and the fairytale ending fails to materialise.

So what goes wrong? What mistakes do we make and how can we fix them?

We asked some of Ireland's top relationship experts for their insight into what makes a marriage fizzle ... and how to get it sizzling again.



We lose the look of love

When you first meet your partner we see them with what psychologist Allison Keating, founder of Dublin's bWell clinic (, refers to as "beginner's eyes".

She explains: "At the beginning of a relationship the beautiful love hormone – oxytocin – can block our senses to potentially annoying or irritating aspects of our partner. But when the oxytocin wears away, we can swing the other way and only see the bad."


You let the negatives outweigh the positives

According to psychologist and mathematician, John Gottman, the magic ratio is 5:1 – for every one negative you say to your spouse you need five positive statements to counter-act the damage. "This is a hefty ratio," says Keating. "One that requires major commitment to adding to your marriage rather than picking at it."

The more time couples have invested in the relationship the more vulnerable they can feel about bringing up a difficult conversation.

Keating explains: "Psychologist Ziyad Marar's book Intimacy uses the example of the film Lost in Translation – that it's because Bob and Charlotte are unencumbered by knowing each other that their intimacy is created." They have nothing to lose by being honest with each other, unlike couples with a shared history who might fear hurting their partner by vocalising their concerns.


Irish Independent

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