Why I Would Answer Relationship Questions Differently After 5 Years Of Marriage


People change over time, and so do our relationships. I was recently reflecting on how I would have answered questions in my first year of marriage, compared to what I would say now. It’s important to talk about this stuff because some changes can be hard, and if we don’t talk about it, no one will feel comfortable asking for help.  

My wife and I recently celebrated our 5th year wedding anniversary. We booked a boat ride lunch on the River Thames, which was great fun. It was a bit tamer than usual. We have done quad biking and zip wiring along one of the longest courses in Europe to celebrate in the past!

Now, for those of you who like to read my posts regularly, you know I don’t often go into great detail about myself, or how I dated or my own relationship. Mainly because I’m not perfect, and I don’t want people to think this ministry is about me saying: 

‘Just date the way I dated, and follow my behaviours in marriage and you’ll be fine’. 

There is no simple seven-step rule for dating or marriage. We all have different personalities, experiences, and hopes. I always think discussing principles, and enabling people to apply it to their unique situation is much more helpful. 

Real, tangible and helpful advice needs to go beyond ‘look at me’. 

Questions I Always Ask

However, as I was searching for inspiration on what to write, I was thinking about my anniversary. My mind wondered to the questions I always ask other married couples, which are:

  • ‘What is the best thing about marriage?’
  • ‘What is the hardest thing about marriage?’
  • ‘What is the best piece of advice?’ 

As I was thinking about this, I was wondering ‘What I would say now?’ I started to ask myself ‘Would it be the same answer I gave in my first year of marriage?’ 

So after some reflection, here is what I used to say when people asked me these questions, and what I would say now after 5 years.

‘What Is The Best Thing About Marriage?’

In my first year of marriage, I would have said that just being with each other all the time was the best bit. 

I would definitely say that over the 5 years our love and relationship has changed

We didn’t live together before we were married, so being able to just be together, sleep in the same bed, etc., was great. We could actually spend lots of time together and not worry about going back to separate houses. 

Now, if you asked me this same question, I would definitely say that over the 5 years our love and relationship has changed, but it’s got better. In a society that says the newer the better, and old relationships get boring and stale, I can honestly say that is not the case. 

We have been through so much, made sure we kept committing to making it work and had fun. Being with someone who values you, really knows you, still sticks around, puts you first, and builds a strong foundation of trust with you over time, is priceless. This longevity of shared experience is the best thing.

‘What Is The Hardest Thing About Marriage?’

In the first year, I would have said making the big sacrifices is the hardest. Like realising that my wife, who is the extrovert, wants lots of people round all day every day. Whereas the introvert in me wanted to see next to no one if possible.

Adapting and sacrificing my time and space to allow her to feel fulfilled, and us both making sacrifices in other areas too, like how we spend ‘our’ money, rather than what I do with ‘my’ money’, was hard. It took work and caused arguments. (Read Why The Royals Invested In Marriage Prep, And So Should You)

It’s the little sacrifices

Now if someone asked me, ironically, I would say it’s the little sacrifices. 

Thankfully, we have worked through the ‘big’ stuff and adapted well. But actually, doing the little things after 5 years, when it would be easier to just revert to type, is actually where the marriage is strengthened or weakened. 

Remembering to clean up instead of just leaving it for the other person, not making the joke you know they will not like, sacrificing your ‘precious’ evening to do something they enjoy but you don’t, is hard to do day after day. It’s the little things that make a difference now. 

‘What Is The Best Piece Of Advice?’

I think after I got married, I would have said communication is key. Not assuming that my wife would agree with me, not letting our little annoyances grow into big arguments, being prepared for the reality of life together to not be exactly as expected, can all be dealt with through good communication. 

People who are ‘well suited’ can have big problems when they stop communicating. And couples who are ‘unsuited’ can get through it if they keep talking and listening to each other. (Read Disagreement Doesn’t Equal Divorce’, Why Successful Couples Remember This)

Now after 5 years, I would still emphasise communication, it is still key. However, I would add in that trying to see the issue/problem from my wife’s perspective is so important. It’s something I have come to appreciate more and more. 

It is a trap I see many people slipping into after a few years together

This is obvious in some ways, but really putting yourself in their shoes. So not just thinking ‘this is how she reacted, but if it happened to me I would react differently’. But really appreciating that she reacts in a certain way, and why, and that I need to take that on board.  

Just thinking it would be easier if they had ‘changed’ by now instead of building more empathy, is a trap I see many people slipping into after a few years together.  

Imagine If… 

Like I said at the beginning, I’m not perfect at all. But doing the work I do, and having personally navigated marriage for a while, I really believe these bits of advice are something we can hopefully all get something from. 

Imagine if we remembered that marriage is meant to be fun, but it takes hard work too. Remembering this at every stage of marriage can help us navigate the lows and get back to the highs. (Read What 35 Years of Marriage Really Looks Like)

Thinking of a couple you respect, how do you think they would answer these questions? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 3/12/2018

How To Stop Letting Jealousy Rule The Relationship

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Jealousy is a feeling that can ruin any romantic relationship. In a world where we’re being bombarded with pictures and images of ‘perfect’ people, and where we’re constantly meeting (and comparing) ourselves to new people, we can all experience jealousy. If we want to thrive, we need to stop letting jealousy rule the relationship. 

I remember seeing a friend getting very protective over his partner when she spoke to this one guy. It was very strange to see because he was usually so laid-back. I thought it was obvious that there was nothing sinister going on, but it really affected him.   

Some of us will be able to relate to this story. Either because the person we’re with, or we ourselves, have been jealous. It may still even happen from time to time. 

How do we address these issues in a healthy way?

Now I know that sometimes, unfortunately, there is something sinister happening. And people do sadly end up cheating and being unfaithful. So I’m not saying if we see something that worries us then we should just pretend it doesn’t mean that. But this post is about something else. 

Constantly On Edge 

This is for those of us who are in a fairly new relationship deciding if it will move forward, or maybe we have been in one a while and are a bit worried about it for some reason. We know deep down that jealousy seems to be constantly putting us on edge and not helping us in our situation, or our partner may be experiencing it a lot. 

So how do we address these issues in a healthy way, making sure it doesn’t ruin our relationship? 

I have written about jealousy before, particularly on how we may deal with it as an individual (Read I’m Not Jealous, I Just Care!) But in this post, I want to focus on how, as a couple, we can approach the issue. I would say three things are vital: 

  • Talk About Being Jealous
  • Talk About Insecurities 
  • Talk About It Soon 

Talk About Being Jealous

This may sound easy, or even straightforward, but it really isn’t. 

Often we talk about everything linked to it, like why were they talking to that attractive person, all night?! Or why were they ‘clearly’ flirting?! If we’re feeling jealous, we need to actually bring it out into the open. 

If we are the one who is on the receiving end, we can’t just say ‘you’re just jealous’, and use that phrase to insinuate that they’re in the wrong. Maybe we did go too far, maybe not, but we need to at least realise they are hurting. We need to see it from their viewpoint. 

Instead of talking about the things they are doing, or the reason why it’s not ‘my’ fault, we need to actually talk about the jealousy. This will take courage on both sides, and just admitting to that emotion will be painful, but we need to talk about it. 

Talk About Insecurities 

Again, I want to say that sometimes we may see something and have a legitimate concern, or maybe the person we are with did go too far. If we’re the ones being accused, we need to be willing to see things from the other person’s view if we really care about them. 

However, if jealous is an issue we are constantly dealing with, it may be because of an insecurity. 

Good communication at this point is needed more than ever

For example, it may be that we are unsure how committed they are to us and the relationship, and some situations highlight that. The truth is, until we talk about the commitment issue honestly and openly, the feeling of jealousy will never go, and will weaken the relationship. 

Whether we’re the ones getting jealous, or the person we are with is, we cannot just ignore the deep issues it’s linked to and brush it off. Good communication at this point is needed more than ever. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed) 

Talk About It Soon

Like with most problems, the longer we leave it, the biggest the problem gets. If we don’t talk about it, the negative emotions will come out passively, or as angry exchanges, which will not be good for anyone.

It needs to be addressed. The sooner the better. 

Imagine If…

We all want our relationships to be strong. Any relationships, no matter how ‘sorted’ it looks, will involve the couple dealing with jealousy at some point. Maybe only a few times, or maybe in a big way, but it will happen. 

Imagine if, we made sure we: Talk About Being Jealous, Talk About Insecurities, and Talk About It Soon. That way, we wouldn’t let it ruin the relationship. (Read 2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last) 

What other advice have you heard when it comes to jealousy? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 26/11/2018

2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last

Interesting Research, Marriage

I came across some very interesting research the other week. It was about one of these theories that says it can tell how likely a couple is to stay together/get divorced based on two key factors. I think these things are never fool-proof, but they can offer so much insight into what makes a healthy relationship and something we can all learn from. 

I was listening to this very short podcast episode from Relationship Matters (Ep. 70) a while ago, and the presenter and co. were discussing a piece of research that looks at creating healthy and happy long-term marriages, and what were strong predictors of relationship success. 

One phrase they used to describe marriage was ‘it’s a training ground’, which I really liked. 

It stresses that traits need to/can be learnt and improved. It’s not like some people have them and the rest are destined to have bad relationships forever. Or that some ‘lucky’ people are able to demonstrate them all the time. 

We all need to work on getting/keeping these traits, and they can help build the stable and enjoyable relationships we crave.  

#1 Forgiveness

The first trait they spoke about was forgiveness. Married couples that forgave/learned to forgive each other were the ones that were much more likely to stay together long-term. 

This may be unsurprising as it’s something that is spoken about or hinted at a lot. But what does it actually mean?

For example, I know I need to forgive friends when they let me down, but I can find myself holding grudges or talking negatively to others about them. Sometimes it’s because, without ignoring the fact I have been really hurt, I’m not really trying to forgive. 

Forgiveness allows us to get back in sync with each other

I find forgiveness isn’t a one-off event but actually a frequent and often daily thing in my marriage. Whether my wife needs to forgive me for something ‘small’, like when I leave the dirty dishes on top of the dishwasher instead of putting them inside it, again! 

Or big things that lead to arguments, like when family traditions clash and cause problems and one of us begins to act unreasonably. 

When we choose to forgive, we’re choosing to not let negative events/problems define our relationship. Forgiveness may be a process and may take time and is often hard, but forgiveness allows us to get back in sync with each other. 

We need to actively choose to foster the trait of forgiveness, and not allow mistakes and bad choices to define the relationship. 

I think communicating about everything, big or small, acknowledging when we have hurt each other, and actually saying the word ‘sorry’, are vital. Otherwise, the grudges, anger and negative emotion will cause a barrier over time, that will make it harder to foster connection.  

#2 Self-Control 

The second trait of self-control was one that may seem obvious to some of us, but it wasn’t one I would have thought of before hearing about the research. However, when you break it down it makes a lot of sense.

Self-control essentially allows people to approach marriage in a healthy and respectful way. It means they will resist the urge to flirt or cheat, and won’t be aggressive or violent, and will be more likely to make sacrifices for each other. 

Self-control allows us to stop, or resist doing it in the first place

All of these things are, I would say, part of the minimum requirements needed to make a relationship strong, long-lasting, and mutually fulfilling. (Read How Successful Relationship Avoid Letting Anger Win)

When my wife and I are stressed, it’s easy to shout and be harsh with each other, but self-control allows us to stop, or resist doing it in the first place. It allows us to focus on the other’s needs and not just focus on ‘me’ and what ‘I’ want all the time. 

Good To Know 

We don’t marry perfect people. We marry people who are willing to learn

Whether we’re married, or want to get married one day, this research can help us to remember what it takes to build and keep building a good relationship. 

The research also pointed out that the process of being together also increased these factors. Which is why I like the phrase ‘training ground’. No one is perfect, we don’t marry perfect people. We marry people who are willing to learn to foster healthy habits. (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we tried to forgive more and forgive quicker. Yes it takes time, yes we may need to discuss things first, but it’s something we need to work on to help our relationships. Imagine if we practiced self-control too, by stopping and thinking about the other person and not just our needs.

I think these things would help make our relationships strong, and help bring/increase the security and enjoyment we crave in our relationships. (Read What 35 Years of Marriage Really Looks Like)

How else could these two traits be beneficial? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 29/10/2018

‘Disagreement Doesn’t Equal Divorce’, Why Successful Couples Remember This

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Couples don’t always agree, and that’s okay. Sometimes there are big arguments, and lots of respectful discussions, some compromise, and time to think about things afresh. But in any successful relationship where there is mutual love and respect, people will have disagreements. We don’t need to have the same opinion all the time, and remembering this is good. 

I need to start this by saying that I know there are many couples out there who are facing really big arguments. They’re feeling overwhelmed and may need outside help, like couples counselling to get through it.

But there are people who worry that every small disagreement will result in divorce or breaking-up. This belief isn’t correct and can cause problems.

I Always Used To Worry 

I was having dinner with some friends, and most of us were fairly recently married. We were talking about the advice we would like to give our ‘unmarried selves’ if we could travel back in time.

One of my friends said ‘I would tell myself that disagreement doesn’t equal divorce. I thought if we disagreed, even over something small, there was a problem. But I have learned to see it as a healthy thing.’

My wife and I still don’t see eye to eye on everything

This comment reminded me about an important relationship dynamic.

My wife and I do agree on the things we feel are important to us, like faith, the importance of friends and family, and values, for example. We wouldn’t be married otherwise. However, my wife and I still don’t see eye to eye on everything.

My Wife and I Disagree

Let me put it like this; we disagree on how to decorate our home. Our interior design ideas aren’t a million miles away from each other, but there are disagreements. Sometimes this results in compromise, sometimes one of us needs to let our idea go. (Read Why Compromise Can Sometimes Be The Worst Decision)

I could also say that we have different views on how to play sports with friends. I want to go all out, everyone tries their best, and some win and some lose, (I lose more than I care to admit). She wants it to be a bit more fun and less competitive. This has caused some problems, and we both seem unable to back down on this point.

We sometimes see things differently

When we read the Bible together, we don’t always agree. Thankfully, we often do on the ‘big’ issues, but we don’t always on every individual passage. We sometimes see things differently.

These examples, as well as others, can cause some tension. But disagreeing well, and not letting it become an argument as much as possible, is healthy.

Why Is Disagreeing Healthy? 

Just to make it clear and say again, I’m not talking about arguments where hurtful and unhelpful things are said. (Read How To Have A Good Argument) But learning to appreciate disagreements can be good because it shows:

  • An appreciation that no relationship is easy
  • You feel safe sharing your opinion
  • You respect each other.

No Relationship Is Easy

No romantic relationship, no friendship, no family relationship, no work relationship, or any relationship, is always easy. There are times when you feel let down, get annoyed at each other, and don’t get on.

If we tried to stop all disagreements, then we would just be trying to get people to do what we want, or be forcing them to agree with us all the time. That isn’t the sign of a healthy relationship, but signals control or fear.

Realising there will be disagreements signals that we accept relationships aren’t always easy and take a bit of work. People are different, and no long-lasting couples experience smooth sailing all the time.

You Feel Safe Sharing Your Opinion

If people share their opinion and feelings with you, it means they trust you enough to do it.

In romantic relationships, trust is so important. When we feel scared or unable to share, then there’s a problem. It may be that we fear a disagreement will lead to a break-up. But if you trust each other and know you’re willing to keep putting the work in, you will feel safe to share, even if you disagree.

You Respect Each Other 

It’s easy to get on with people who agree with you. It’s easy to have a good time with someone that says ‘yes’ to all the things you say. But it’s hard when people disagree with you, unless there is mutual respect.

Our aim can’t be to forget these differences, but to respect each other

In dating relationships, and even more so in marriage, you will see eye to eye on lots of things and enjoy spending time together. It’s the reason why you’re a couple. But you’re still two different people, with different personalities, and different views.

Our aim can’t be to forget these differences, but to respect each other, even when there is a disagreement. Respect means that disagreements will not lead to disaster because you’re drawn to each other and appreciate each other because of who you are. It’s not just because you always agree or never argue. (Read After Your Arguments, You Don’t Walk Out)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered that disagreements don’t mean disaster or divorce. Remembering that relationships aren’t easy but take work, feeling safe, and having mutual respect, means that disagreements can be put into the right perspective without them evolving into a big argument or fear.

Do you think disagreements are a good thing? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 30/7/2018

Why The Royals Invested In Marriage Prep, And So Should You


Prince Harry and Meghan decided to take up the offer of pre-marriage counselling, or marriage preparation, before they got married. We may think this signals a crisis or a problem, but that isn’t true at all. It sets people up for a stronger relationship, helps protect against issues before they become problems, and we should all follow their lead (even if we are dating or already married). 

There was such a feel-good vibe over the weekend. I don’t know if you were part of a street party, managed to get to London, or just saw some clips from the wedding at home, but it was a great day.

I must admit, I have always enjoyed weddings. I really enjoy watching two people who are happy and excited about their relationship, make a commitment to God and/or each other in front of friends and family.

And we all know, but it’s easy to forget, that while the day is meant to be fun and a great celebration, a marriage is really about more than the wedding day. It’s about the decisions that are made over the next few weeks, months, and years, that will determine if a happy and long-lasting relationship is built. 

Prince Harry and Meghan decided to go through marriage perp

This is why I was so happy to hear that Prince Harry and Meghan decided to go through marriage prep, and by doing so have highlighted why it’s so important. 

Not Just for A Crisis

My wife and I did a marriage preparation course. Most of my married friends did it too. Not because we had a crisis or any obvious or big problems, but because we didn’t want any to develop. 

I found it valuable talking to someone outside of ‘us’, who challenged and questioned the way we relate to each other, the way we communicate and asked us how we reacted in certain situations.

It meant that when problems arose later on, we had thought about them beforehand and not just in the heat of the moment. More importantly, we have also been able to spot issues and deal with them before they become problems. This all means we have been able to enjoy our relationship more.

Not Just for A Marriage 

The one thing that really upsets me though, which is partly why I oversee Naked Truth Relationships, is that so many people wonder why they only start to seek relationship advice (if ever) once they’re engaged. When they were dating, they say they needed some guidance and some help, possibly even more so, but couldn’t find any. (Read 2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating)

None of us are born with relationships skills. We don’t automatically know how to create a long-lasting relationship.  No one is born knowing how to drive a car or speak a language either, we need to learn these skills. Whether we are hoping to date soon, are dating, engaged or married, we need to learn relationship skills. 

Prince Harry and Meghan have realised that thinking through relationship dynamics is important, me and my wife and many others do too, and it’s so important to talk about this truth more.

3 Things I Learned

There are loads of things I have learned and could say. But the three important things that I want to highlight, whether we are dating or marriage, are: 

  • I’m The Biggest Issue  
  • Address Problems While They Are Small 
  • Learn How To Communicate 

I’m The Biggest Issue

What I really valued in my wedding prep, which is relevant to other relationship stages too, is that I had to realise I was the biggest issue in my relationship.

What I mean is, it’s easy to blame the person we are in a relationship with. It’s easy to say ‘If only she did this more…’ or ‘If he started doing that instead then…’. We need to realise we are part of creating the dynamic of our relationship; no one is perfect, we all make mistakes and that is allowed, but we are part of the issue.

Both people need to reflect on their actions, and both people need to be gracious

By realising that we needed to reflect on our own actions, we needed to be gracious, and we needed to know that we can both cause upset, meant that we could both take responsibility. We could then start to put the effort in constantly and not just on the wedding day, to make sure we were fostering a mutually happy and long-lasting relationship. 

Address Problems While They Are Small

Many people say to me that a relationship is about letting things go, but I disagree. Little habits and problems build over time and become big problems. Learning to address them while they are small means there is a better chance of overcoming it. 

I have no doubt Prince Harry and Meghan would have been addressing habits or concerns they had. Not because they were worried or had doubts, but so they could talk about things before they became too big to solve.

In any relationships, we want to be happy and enjoy it and fall in love and have fun. But taking the time to take stock of our dynamics won’t take the fun out of it, but ensures that we can go on enjoying it. Spotting small problems means they can be dealt with before they become too big.  

Learn How To Communicate

I always say communicating is key. And it seems so simple, yet it’s so hard. 

People can just assume what the other person is thinking. Or they want the other person to just know what they are thinking, and are disappointed when they don’t. Or they have the same argument over and over, without actually talking about the underlying issue. (Read How Successful Relationship Avoid Letting Anger Win)

Marriage is a continual learning process

Learning how to talk to each other and get onto the same wavelength, amongst the changes and busyness of life, is key to building a long-lasting relationship. (Read 2 Questions Every Married Couple Should Ask)

Imagine If… 

Marriage is a continual learning process. 

The wedding day doesn’t mean we have got it all sorted, or there will be no more problems. We are all learning, we all make mistakes, and we all need help and advice. (Read 1 Big Reason Why People Get Bored In Relationships Explained) 

Imagine if we followed Prince Harry and Meghan’s lead, where we reflected and thought about our own relationship dynamics no matter what our relationship status is. And remembered: I’m The Biggest Issue; Address Problems While They Are Small; Learn How To Communicate.

Do you think people are willing or unwilling to get relationship advice? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 21/5/2018