Tuesday 6 December 2016

Seven tips for a successful marriage - top family lawyer Mary Banham-Hall shares her insights

Wedding season is almost upon us, but how do you make that honeymoon period last a lifetime? Top family lawyer Mary Banham-Hall shares her insights with Kate Whiting

Kate Whiting

Published 22/02/2016 | 12:55

David Beckham and Victoria Beckham attend the British Fashion Awards 2015 at London Coliseum on November 23, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
David Beckham and Victoria Beckham attend the British Fashion Awards 2015 at London Coliseum on November 23, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
'Unconventional': Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have six kids together.
Mary Banham-Hall
Aaron Paul and wife Lauren Parsekian
Meryl Streep (pictured with husband Don Gummer) is queen. And always will be.

Winter will soon be over - hurrah! But the new seasons don't just bring sunnier days; many of us can prepare for a shower of wedding invites too.

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Of course, as brides and grooms are frequently reminded, it's once the party's over and the newlyweds have waltzed off into the sunshine that the hard work of maintaining a marriage really begins.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ireland has the third-lowest rate of divorce in the EU. The CSO released the findings last year that revealed 0.6 divorces occurred per 1,000 population in 2012.

So, how can Irish husbands and wives continue to ensure that marriage in this country goes the distance?

Mary Banham-Hall
Mary Banham-Hall

There's probably no simple answer, but for starters, Mary Banham-Hall - a lawyer and mediator with more than three decades' experience, and author of new book Love Lose Live: Divorce Is A Rollercoaster - offers up these top tips for couples tying the knot...

1. Talk about having children

Do you want any? If so, when?

Never assume your partner feels the same way as you do, or merrily think that if you disagree, the problem will go away.

'Unconventional': Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have six kids together.
'Unconventional': Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have six kids together.

It probably won't. Babies can make or break your relationship. You need to start in the same place.

2. Have the money chat

Are you both debt averse or is just one of you? Think of how you will run your finances. Even if you have separate accounts, if one saves and the other spends, it causes friction.

Talk this through carefully. Who will pay what?

Aaron Paul and wife Lauren Parsekian
Aaron Paul and wife Lauren Parsekian

Try and make it feel fair, so you each have about the same level of disposable income. Anticipating problems helps you avoid them.

3. Decide where to live

Town or country, old or new, garden or decked courtyard, high-maintenance or easy life?

It's best to try and work out a lifestyle you both like, as if you hate gardening, you won't want to spend hours a week doing it. But if the big outdoors is essential to your happiness, then a 10th-floor luxury flat will be torture.

Mariah Carey and fiancee James Packer. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Mariah Carey and fiancee James Packer. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

These things matter on a daily basis more than you think.

4. Conflict resolution

Make sure you can resolve disagreements and problems without having highly charged emotional rows.

Rachel and Ross had their fair share of conflicts in the TV show Friends. Photo: NBC.
Rachel and Ross had their fair share of conflicts in the TV show Friends. Photo: NBC.

Each of you should feel able to express your feelings and beliefs without being ridiculed or attacked.

Learn to listen to each other, not just think what you're going to say when you argue back and try to make the other person do what you want. Sometimes you should do what they want.

5. Set some house rules

Both of you need to feel comfortable with how you live, and neither of you has a right to impose your rules on the other.

This must be a fair and mutually respectful negotiation. For example, if you both work, then household tasks should be fairly shared. If one does the lion's share while the other relaxes, this can be very destructive to your relationship.

Silent resentment is a marriage wrecker.

Justin Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel.
Justin Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel.

6. Clashing demands

You probably both have relatives who you want to spend time with, but you must start to put your new family unit first.

However, combine this with being supportive and understanding of each other's family ties and be fair. Don't cut one family off. This can breed resentment and be destructive.

7. Wedding Vs marriage

The wedding is just one very special day, it's precious, and you'll remember it forever - but the marriage is the nuts and bolts of life and you want it to last forever.

You need to invest even more time and money in nurturing your marriage year in year out than you did the wedding.

Meryl Streep (pictured with husband Don Gummer) is queen. And always will be.
Meryl Streep (pictured with husband Don Gummer) is queen. And always will be.

It costs little or nothing to go for a walk together, and talking and listening are better for you than a new bike or handbag.

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