Marriage longevity: What’s the secret to a long, happy union?

Her Majesty the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh looked frail and aged in the latest photo released by Buckingham Palace to mark Prince Philip’s 99th birthday. For a couple that has been under constant scrutiny by the public and media, and with a lot of rules to observe, it appears to me like they never or cannot remember when they last used the terms ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’ in reference to each other. It has been a lifetime of maintaining royal stature; I can hardly trace a photo of the two holding hands yet their photos date as far back as the 1940s.

As the Duke turned 99, I wondered how it has been for him to be married to 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth for 73 years — a whole 73 years! There is an 83-year-old man who is thrice divorced, and in fact two of those divorces happened within 14 months.

 

For long, I have watched documentaries and read articles about the two. It is obvious that the husband accepted his place in the marriage and got comfortable in his skin. In some societies when a woman appears to be more successful, or enjoying a little bit more freedom, people will say the husband has been ‘sat on’, he has no say. It is possible Prince Philip heard this too but did he let it deter him? No.

 

The couple has lived and travelled together for long but as age caught up, Prince Philip retired from royal duties and effectively went to live at Sandrigham Estate located about 100 miles away from the Queen who resides either at Buckingham Palace or Windsor. I guess that is fine, they are an old couple. There are 45 year olds who don’t share a bedroom or home.

 

According to royal observers and analysts, thanks to Covid-19, the Queen and her husband were reunited and have been living under the same roof for three months. It is the first time in years that they have stayed together for that long without being separated. During this time it is suspected they share either lunch or dinner together then spend the rest of the time separately carrying out individual activities, which for the Queen include receiving and reading letters as well as reviewing official documents sent to her.

What is their secret to a long marriage? One of the reasons cited is the fact that they are of differing personalities, the two of them did not try to change each other, they accepted and married who they saw and fell in love with. As prominent as she is, the Queen is more laid back compared to her husband. Whereas the present day woman or wife is a bit more confrontational compared to their mother and grandmother, it is said the Queen is much less confrontational. I picture her walking out of a room as soon as she sees Philip’s mood change. They also attributed the longevity of their marriage to tolerance and patience, hmmm, so 1800. No wonder divorce rates have increased — the current population is less tolerant of a lot of things.

With several possible reasons advanced, I identified for me what was the most important secret to their successful marriage; it is the fact that they spend a lot more time apart than together. Stop those things of ‘I want to see you more often.’ Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Spend lengthy periods without seeing each other and stay married for 73 years, in this day and age it is a huge achievement.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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