What is the secret to a happy marriage? a frequently searched question, yet I’m convinced there simply isn’t a right or wrong answer. What works for some relationships doesn’t work for others and so on.

It is exactly ten years today since I said ‘I do’ to my husband James. A whole decade of navigating life as man and wife, parenting, becoming business owners and let’s be honest, the mundanity of the daily grind.

I used to wonder how some couples, my parents, my grandparents, stayed together for so many years. Choosing each other and no one else. How it was possible to live out your days with the exact same person by your side. Forever and always.

Wedding Anniversary Celebrating a happy marriage

The expertly edited depictions of “perfect relationships” and over the top PDA’s that are so prevalent across social media furnish the majority of the population with unrealistic expectations. Or worse, feelings of inadequacy and assumptions that the grass must be glossier on the other side. In my humble opinion? I think it’s mainly bullish*t. If you are having such a wonderful time, then why feel the need, or indeed have so much spare time, to document every living, breathing, loved-up moment.

The unequivocal negative effect of online/social media on mental health is an escalating concern. James and I have very similar views on how we approach the world’s current obsession with over-sharing when it comes to our daughters. Due to the nature of my chosen career path, I’m sure you can appreciate that this particular issue has proved to be both challenging and complex. Ultimately we agree on the big things in life. And that’s important too. Potentially life-changing decisions have to be made by 100% of the team 100% of the time.

The irony of the sunset photographs within this feature is not lost on me. We took full advantage of a ten minute window during my sister’s beautiful wedding a few weeks ago. It’s rare James and I get this dressed up for any other occasion. Behind the scenes we were mostly taking the piss out of each other. Mabel refused to smile at any point. Iris’s teething was at that stage where she requires multiple dribble bib changes.

As the clock struck midnight my sweaty post dancing face closely resembled a pumpkin. And my sequins were mostly covered in drool.

What you “see” is very rarely the full story. Or the true picture.

The hyperbole is real.

I love the way We Are The Clarkes captured us as a family and as a couple. These are our best bits. Single snapshots of a special joy filled day.

Our every day life doesn’t look anything like this. It looks like sleepless nights, never ending laundry and over filled bins. More recently it has looked like the waiting room of Birmingham children’s hospital. A&E at Warwick hospital. The beige four walls of various consulting rooms. It has looked like fear and it has looked like hope. We’ve had so much thrown at us these past 9 months, there were times I thought we might crumble.

When you are starring down the black hole of despair hold on to each other really tight. Make sure you don’t fall down the damn thing.

Secret To A Happy Marriage Flower Girl

James and I respect each other. We respect our differences. And that’s important. We have likes and dislikes that differ from each other. And that’s ok.

Compromise is a prerequisite to any happy marriage, but not one-sided compromise. That just leads to resentment. Been there, done that, worn the ill-fitting T-shirt.

Even though we are both business owners our industries are worlds apart, it makes for interesting and often eye-opening conversations. That’s important too. As much as you might appreciate each others aesthetic attributes, it can’t be enough to maintain a successful partnership. If there’s no conversation then surely there’s no laughter. According to my parents, my grandparents and anyone else’s opinion I value, laughter is the foundation of relationship longevity.

We laugh a lot. Our children make us laugh until we cry.

Happy Marriage Family Portrait

What is the secret to a happy marriage? Not a bloody clue. I just know what works for us.

Banter. Honesty. The ability to forgive. Finding each other’s funny bones. Respect. Compromise. Loving each other despite our differences. Loving each other because of our differences. In sickness and in health. Till death do us part.

Here’s to forever and always.