Helen Mirren recently claimed that the secret to a happy marriage is down to loyalty rather than romance. But is that really true? Two of our writers give their views
>Loyalty is what counts
In an ideal world, every relationship would be a perfect blend of romantic love and loyal friendship. But if I had to choose one to be the foundation of a marriage, the latter would win hands down.
Helen Mirren has come out with a statement that has people talking. The grand dame who can do no wrong said she valued loyalty more than romance in her marriage, and I think she's got it. It's very difficult to look at one's own relationship objectively, but let's consider the definition of each word.
Romance isn't always easy to define. To a pal, her husband taking out the bins of a Wednesday is romantic; to another, it's a dozen red roses every second Friday. But neither one of them, nor anyone else that I know, has a different idea of what loyalty is.
Loyalty is faithfulness to a commitment, it is honesty and devotion, unfailing and unchanging, and if it is broken, it is a very difficult thing to repair. Loyalty doesn't need to prove itself as romance does.
Who remembers poor Cheryl Cole waxing lyrical about how romantic Ashley was? How he used to run her baths for her (leaving a razor on the side -- not sure what he was trying to say there), send her flowers, and buy her exceptionally expensive jewellery for no specific reason.
A true romantic, indeed, except as we now know, he was putting one in the back of other girls' nets every time her back was turned. I'm sure Cheryl would have run her own baths for just one carat of loyalty and trust.
It is not a coincidence that romantic can also mean impractical or fanciful. That's not to say that a belief in romance is naive or foolish, or that partners shouldn't make an effort to make sweet, spontaneous gestures to each other, but a relationship can survive without them.
The reason some friendships last a lifetime is down to loyalty, and surely a marriage or partnership has to have a very deep friendship to stand the test of time? Every week, at least one women's magazine or newspaper supplement will run an article on how to 'put the spark' back into your love life, how to get the romance back which might have been neglected or allowed to slide because of work, kids or just plain old familiarity. This happens to every couple from time to time, but romance is something that can ebb and flow without ruining a relationship. If you lose the romance, it can be rekindled.
Loyalty is not so simple. If trust is lost, then no amount of champagne, gifts or opening the door in nothing but fancy new knickers is going to get it back.