Is there a secret to a long-lasting marriage?

Katherine Ryan has spoken frankly about her worries about her marriage to Bobby Koostra. (Getty Images)
Katherine Ryan has spoken frankly about her worries about her marriage to Bobby Koostra. (Getty Images)

Marriage has long been a revered institution, a milestone that holds significance for many people even in the modern world.

But, at the same time, the landscape of marriage has changed exponentially over the decades. Divorce is no longer as uncommon or taboo as it used to be, and fewer people in the UK are getting married.

Recent statistics show that marriage rates for heterosexual couples have been steadily dropping. Earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics released figures showing that fewer than half of all UK adults are in a marriage or a civil partnership for the first time.

Meanwhile, in 2022, more than 80,000 divorces were granted in England and Wales. Although this is a decrease of nearly 30% from 2021 figures and the lowest number of divorces since 1971, figures suggest that nearly half (42%) of marriages in the UK end in divorce.

For couples who are recently married, these numbers can be daunting. Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan, who married her husband Bobby Koostra in 2019, recently expressed her own worries about the future of her relationship.


Speaking to The Sun, Ryan, 40, said: "We’ve only been married five years, but 50 years? I don’t know.

"Everyone’s happy after the first five [years] whereas I’m more about, ‘Can we make it to 20 years and 40 years and 50 years?’"

She added frankly that her marriage has taken "a backseat" since she and Koostra welcomed their children Fred, two, and Fenna, 14 months. Ryan also shares 14-year-old daughter Violet with her ex-boyfriend Alex Edelman.

Ryan’s fears about the longevity of her marriage are familiar to many. It could partly explain why fewer people are choosing to get married, alongside other reasons such as the astronomical cost of weddings and the fact that people are hitting major milestones later in life.

But, for those of us who recently got hitched or who have marriage on the cards, is there a way to make sure they last a long time, for better or for worse?

Is there a secret to a long marriage?

Dancing, happy senior couple smile together and dance with love in retirement. Anniversary celebration at home, mature married healthy man and active woman support each other in retired old age
What's the key to a happy, long-lasting marriage? (Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the experts say there’s no one secret that can guarantee a long-lasting marriage. And instead of focusing on how long your wedded bliss will last, focus instead on adapting and growing together - this will help your relationship stand the test of time.

Laura Geige, psychologist from Glow Bar London, tells Yahoo UK: "Couples who embrace change and navigate life’s challenges as a team tend to have more resilient relationships.

"It’s also crucial to maintain a strong emotional connection and prioritise each other’s needs. Regularly expressing appreciation and gratitude can help keep the relationship strong and vibrant."

Relationship expert Marina Lazaris, author of Men Need Love Too, adds that marriage should be based on "freedom not control". She believes that couples must "stay true to their own beliefs while respecting the other’s perspective", as well as give each other a "judgement-free space".

"Connection and communication are really key to helping a relationship last," she says. "It’s good to understand one another’s love language but at the same time, remember to tune into the person daily as a ritual, rather than putting their needs into a box. What they need and want can shift on a daily basis."

Does worrying about the future make things worse?

If your concerns about your marriage are too focused on the future and not what’s going on in the present, this can create unnecessary stress and strain on your relationship, Geige warns.

"Instead of worrying, focus on building a strong foundation in the present," she advises. "Practice mindfulness to stay grounded and appreciate the positive aspects of your relationship.

Watch: Jessica Alba thinks "communication" is key to a happy marriage

"Remember, every marriage goes through ups and downs, and seeking help from a therapist can provide valuable tools to navigate challenges and strengthen your bond."

Nicky Wake, founder of dating app Chapter2, which is designed by widows for widows, adds that "nothing in life is ever guaranteed". Reflecting on the loss of her partner, who she married 20 years prior, she adds that it’s important to remember that some things are out of our control.

"While you might have the picture-perfect marriage, this doesn’t mean that you won’t experience an unexpected loss, affair, or any type of marriage breakdown," she tells Yahoo UK.

"Worrying about the future won’t change what will or won’t happen. If there are no red flags in your marriage, then take a step back and remember to enjoy today, remember you and your partner are the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy it while it lasts!"

Talk, talk, talk

Some of the most common problems that couples have include poor communication, lack of intimacy, financial stress and unrealistic expectations, Geige says.

"Overcoming these challenges requires open and honest communication, empathy, and a willingness to work together.

"Couples can benefit from setting aside time to connect regularly, seeking professional help when needed, and being open to change and growth."

She adds: "A long and happy marriage is achievable when both partners are committed to nurturing their relationship, adapting to change, and supporting each other through life's challenges.

"By focusing on the present, communicating effectively, and prioritising each other's needs, couples can build a strong and lasting bond."

Read more about sex and relationships: