Help young women find better role models

We need to re-think our role models

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

A poll was published this week announcing that British parents think Kate Middleton is the best role model for young women. Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus were voted the worst. Forgive me (and I’ll probably be rejected from multiple parenting groups for saying this) but if I had a daughter I would actually rather she be a bit more like Nicki Minaj (or Miley Cyrus) than Kate Middleton.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying Nicki Minaj or Miley Cyrus were role models, but at least they have a talent and have been driven enough to make a career out of it. They are successful business women, whatever people may think of them personally, and they have the freedom to express themselves and live their lives in the way they choose. I am sure Kate Middleton is a very nice person but her family have made no secret of the fact she was ‘born and bred’ to be a princess. She has devoted her life to being the wife of someone born into enormous privilege. She has given up her own career, her own voice and opinion in order to fall in line with a royal brand. If this would be what would become of my daughter, I’d actually rather she wore a skimpy outfit of her choosing (it is very clear Kate no longer gets to choose such minor things as clothing) and sang on a questionable record. She would have achieved something and it would have been on her own terms.

I find it fairly ludicrous anyway that someone would choose a ‘role model’ whom they don’t actually know. My role models would have to be my parents, my sister, my uncle Jack and a few family friends. Despite what the tabloids may want us to think, we know very little about these women. We may feel we know their media personality but even the most outspoken artists are carefully managed by their teams. We don’t know them – yet somehow people want to become them.

If we have to have so-called ‘role models’ let’s at least make them inspiring. Malala Yousafzai, against all the odds, opened a school recently (on her 18th birthday) for Syrian refugee girls and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”. Unfortunately this news was overshadowed in the media as one of the Kardashians also turned 18 that week and was given a Ferrari for doing absolutely nothing. If we want young women to have good role models then I suggest we start talking about some of them.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (L) cuts a ribbon near Noura Jumblatt (R), founder of the NGO Kayany Foundation, at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the foundation, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley July 12, 2015. Malala, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai cuts a ribbon near Noura Jumblatt (R), founder of the NGO Kayany Foundation, at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the foundation, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

When I was younger I desperately wanted to be Ginger Spice. I loved her hair (I used to be down at the chemist buying those terrible 99p red hair dye sachets like a pigeon on a chip), I loved her style (I used to take my mum’s old-curtain-aeriesque long skirts, rip them up at the sides and flounce about in them) but most of all I loved her attitude (several vile pictures still exist of me flipping the Spice sign). However, it turned out she was more ‘human’ than ‘idol’ – well, what did I expect?  A series of eating disorders, broken relationships and a stint in rehab made me swiftly move onto the ill-fated All Saints (more disappointment there as, surprise surprise, they were real people not the cardboard cutouts the record companies wanted us to believe they were).

Safe to say I learned my lesson about having A-list role models – don’t. What you see is not the real world, and you’re admiring something which doesn’t exist.

Let’s try and give young women something higher to aim for. Maybe a Nobel Prize winning person, maybe an athlete, a family member, a teacher or even a politician – just don’t make it someone without a point of view. Young women need someone inspiring to look up to. It’s up to us to help them find them.

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It’s about time for Baby Showers to blow over

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

There is only one event in the calendar that I genuinely dread: the baby shower. I wholeheartedly admit that some American exports are fantastic (such as fast food, films and Bradley Cooper) whereas some things should stay firmly in the States – baby showers being numero uno.

Maybe I’m just being too British about it but I really dislike baby showers. It’s the expectation of a gift (given before the person receiving it has even materialised), the disturbing foetus-themed games and baby-themed non-baby food. Most of all I hate the celebration of an event which hasn’t even happened yet – that poor woman in the middle with the giant belly has got a LOT to go through before her little bundle of joy arrives (or indeed before she manages to catch up on enough lost sleep to realise the joy of her little bundle).

I noticed, at the last ordeal that I went to, the difference between the ‘done it‘ and ‘haven’t done it‘ women (for some reason they all must be women). The ‘done it‘ camp were calm, bored even, and had a look about them of “you have no idea what is about to befall you”. The ‘haven’t done it‘ camp were divided between those finding it all very novel and exciting, or those that were entirely ambivalent. The one thing I was certain of was that this was definitely forced fun, and there was a distinct absence of the f-word (I meant fun – but interestingly no swearing occurred, as people seemed to feel best behaviour was appropriate despite the fact that the tiny star of the show was very far from putting in an appearance).

I also wondered at the cold irony of the dry baby shower. Why must everyone drink soft drinks at these things? The only good baby showers I have been to involved either booze or men or both. There are other oddities, too. This seems the only occasion where a woman’s stomach girth can be openly measured and estimated in front of a crowd. I’m not sure how this is fun for anyone. I have also heard horror stories of grotesque games featuring chocolate bars melted into nappies (you sniff to guess the chocolate) which made me gag a little. What a waste of chocolate.

Recently I read about a rise in a new type of celebration called ‘the post-baby party’. This sounds far more fun. That way it can be a true celebration – the arrival has actually arrived, both parents can be present, as well as (shock horror) other male friends and family. Presents, if present, can be bought with the actual person in mind. We know their name to be able to toast them, and it can be a genuine party to mark a safe arrival, a new beginning and the end of what was probably a harrowing labour. There can even be wine.

I am spreading the word to get rid of baby showers and welcome post-baby parties. Seriously, they are so 2010. But, if you really have to do it, here’s how not to do it:

Invitations: please don’t make your guests want to vomit up their cornflakes when this pops through the post:

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This was professionally designed. I sincerely hope nobody went.

Cakes: this is certainly one occasion where realism isn’t appropriate:

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Disturbing on so many levels

(Upon Googling ‘baby shower’ I came across this truly terrifying compilation – WARNING remember that some things cannot be un-seen: http://www.preggoleggings.com/blogs/preggosphere/19094731-baby-shower-epic-fails-disaster-cakes-that-will-make-you-cringe ).

Booze: get some. Just because the Mummy-to-be isn’t on the fizz it doesn’t mean everyone else has to abstain. This is just good manners (and besides, they will need something to get them through the below)…

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Essential

Games: if you really must devise games to make the time pass PLEASE don’t make them weird. Or boring. No one wants to sniff nappies, decorate bibs or ‘guess the weight of the baby’ unless there is genuine money or decent prizes up for grabs. Remember your audience, people!

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Some people having an awful time

Blokes: whoever said the entry requirements for a baby shower are that you must have a uterus? Some of my female friends are just as (un)likely to pop their own sprog as my male friends are, and find it all equally as uninteresting. Mix it up – it will make it less contrived.

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A condition of entry shouldn’t be a uterus and an unhealthy penchant for guessing games

Make it interesting: there’s got to be something in it for your guests. They will have bought gifts, pretended to be interested in everyone else’s gifts (“oh look, another pair of shrivelled-looking baby socks”) and tried to make polite conversation with people they have nothing in common with and will probably never meet again. Give them something for their efforts: a free bar, some serious buffet food that isn’t baby-themed (nobody ever wanted to eat something with a pram iced onto it) and maybe even some entertainment. Just because one of you isn’t going to be out partying any time soon doesn’t mean everyone else can’t let their hair down!

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Your ultimate aim: guests who didn’t forget to have fun!

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Child models: what to consider before putting your kids in front of the camera

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Quite a few of my friends with children have said that they are interested in letting their child do some modelling ‘in their spare time’. Although I am sure they have the best intentions, I’m not certain that most people know the reality of child models/actors, and how tricky it can be for them (and for you). Having worked in TV now for nearly 10 years, often with little darlings and their parents, I thought I’d put together a bit of information to consider BEFORE you start to sign your little starlet up to an agency:

It’s all about looks. Sorry, but it’s true. You need a thick skin to be a model or an actor and children are no exception. If you don’t mind strangers looking intently at pictures of your children all day then that’s one thing, but their looks, number of chins, head size and any distinguishing features will be spoken about openly. Remember also that the viewing public can be equally as critical. If you’re conscious that Precious has inherited the family’s squinty-looking eye then be prepared to be told that this is the reason they didn’t get the gig. It can be a cruel industry, so the effect of this on your child (and on you) is certainly something to think about.

Not all children are right for it. Having worked with child stars before it’s important to consider whether the child’s personality will suit (and enjoy) the work. I have genuinely found that the more relaxed the child is the better – and by relaxed I mean seriously chilled out to the point of being horizontal – which isn’t your average child. Babies in particular can be very spooked by the lights, the people, the noise and the atmosphere, and most babies I know would not like it one little bit. If your child is shy, clingy, likes a routine, dislikes strangers or unusual environments whatsoever they will absolutely hate it (and so will you).

You may make a loss. Child actors and models aren’t always paid as much as adults. Remember, you (or a licensed chaperone) will need to be with them all the time, so any fee paid will be for your time as well as theirs (minus the agency’s fee, which is usually 20-30%). Most companies don’t pay travel, so consider that you may have an 8am call time in Birmingham, requiring a hotel stay and transport, which may be a lot more than the actual fee. (Another note – call times to set are often early, and are often in central London, so think carefully before committing yourself to taking tube journeys alone laden with buggies and outfit changes requested by the client). You’ll also now need a license for each job, so if you don’t enjoy paperwork this may not the the best use of your time.

It’s no place to be precious. Although many people will be highly considerate that children are present most sets/studios really are no place for children to spend time in. They are loud, draughty, and full of frazzled crew (not to mention full of cables, heavy flat scenery and regular expectations of complete silence – don’t expect any naps to take place here, nor for games to be allowed to be played). If you don’t want to risk Junior’s first word being the ‘f’ word then it’s probably not worth it. Plus, be prepared for a Director to want to see a sleeping baby for a shot a 2pm, followed by an eating shot at 3pm, then if filming over-runs you may be wrapped well past bedtime. If you or your little one are even remotely routine-orientated then this is certainly not your calling.

Let kids be kids. Some parents of serious child actors/models know that certain brands don’t like grazed knees or chicken pox scars, so they never let their children mix with others or do anything fun. If you’re serious about it then say goodbye to the climbing frame and scooter and say hello to wrapping them up in cotton wool. Not much fun for the children, I don’t think.

This will become your job. As mentioned, children legally require a chaperone at all times (you) so you’ll need to be available and VERY flexible. If you have other life commitments (such as a job, hobby, dog or another child) be prepared to miss these on a regular basis. Parents who work will find it difficult to agree to a constantly changing filming schedule, and will be unable to accept last-minute bookings which may mean an end to the bookings altogether. It’s a small, competitive industry and you will be expected to be at their beckon-call. You’ll need to organise a license for each job, so be prepared to get school or nursery signatures, health forms and local authority approval (and then possibly do it all again if/when the filming schedule inevitably changes or even gets cancelled). Once they are older, you may even need to arrange private tuition for the lessons they will miss. If you are looking for an easy life this certainly isn’t it.

Consider the role. Although most brands and TV programmes are fairly generic, you will get the odd role that will require some thought, on behalf of your child (the ill-fated bastard son of King John in Game of Thrones, for example). That film, show or advert will forever be available for their future friends, partners and children to see so make it a wise choice.

Choose a reputable agent. I hate to say this but not everyone plays by the rules, and you need to make sure you are given a fair fee, know that you will actually paid at the end of it and that both you and the client are made aware of the rules (although strict laws exist with regard to children’s work hours, many will still push this to get the shot they need). Be prepared for your child’s photographs to be on the internet for all to see (and I mean ALL) and that you may often be cancelled at the last minute, putting all your carefully made plans into disarray. A good agent will talk you through the process and should be on-hand to answer any questions.

Although this may all seem rather daunting I genuinely believe that some children (and some parents) are perfect for filming, and thank goodness they are – we need babies and kids in films, stills and on TV (a Pampers advert with no babies would be rather odd, after all). Please understand though that it is a very small minority of very laid-back bubbas who will tolerate* all the lights (*enjoy is a strong word), re-takes and new people pretending to the their mummy (be warned how this may make you feel, too – having buxom actresses carrying around your pride and joy ‘not in the way they like to be held’ can be hard for even the most relaxed parent). I never say ‘don’t do it’ but I warn you: it’s not easy. If you’re looking for a good way to build up their university fund then I suggest starting up your own mini beast zoo…plenty more fun and it will probably pay more.

A good link to find out more: http://www.elliottbrownagency.co.uk/register.asp

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

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Ten things people don’t tend to tell you about having a baby…

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By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Before having my baby I thought I was pretty prepared for the chaos that would ensue. To some extent, I was: everyone knows that having a newborn means little sleep, that we would have limited time to ourselves and that it might take me up to 9 whole months to get back to my pre-pregnancy figure (or so Kate Winslet assured readers of Harper’s Bazaar). But there was a lot of stuff people didn’t tell me about the birth, and afterwards. Maybe they thought it was going to scare me, or maybe they thought it was just them. Well, it wasn’t. Knowledge is power in my book so here are the top ten things people don’t tend to tell you:

  1. Say bye bye to your birth plan. OK, so I get that it’s a good idea to know what you do and don’t want to happen in the delivery suite but guess what – it often doesn’t happen as you imagine. This is your first lesson in realising you have very little control when it comes to bubbas – they definitely have their own agenda. Situations change and needs must, so don’t get hung up on the detail. (For example, I wanted to have a water birth only to be told, upon arrival and in full labour “sorry love, it’s closed for maintenance.”). My Midwife friend says a lot of people also decree that a certain music track should be played upon Junior’s crowning. Trust me, at that point you won’t want someone to be faffing with the stereo. Save yourself the stress and simply plan to go with the flow.
  2. Your lady parts will suffer (but don’t worry, they heal remarkably well). I remember spending hours during pregnancy worrying about tears and episiotomies. I genuinely thought a rip down there was the worst thing I would have to go through. Well, it wasn’t, and when it came down to it it was the very least of my worries. I had a grade 2 tear (as well as a few of what they laughingly call ‘grazes’) but after two weeks things were pretty much back to normal. Some women have a much worse experience but eventually things will heal – just don’t look at it if I were you. Lady parts, I salute you.
  3. You may not poo yourself. Apparently, delivering more than just the baby is a very common occurrence, and worry, for mums-to-be. I actually didn’t (ha ha, Fabian, it doesn’t always happen!) but after 68 hours of pain, pushing and no sleep this was certainly no consolation. I gladly would have swapped a bit of poop for a little less labour but I presume it’s a personal choice.
  4. There will be blood. A LOT. There was remarkably little blood during the actual birth, I am talking about AFTERWARDS. I nervously giggled at the suggestion that I should buy disposable knickers prior to the event, thinking my one-pound-Primark-wonders would do the job. How wrong I was. I remember mildly panicking as what looked like a CSI scene ensued on my bed, around my bed, and all over my clothes over the next few days, which the Midwives assured me was entirely normal. If you didn’t have a strong stomach beforehand then you certainly will afterwards.
  5. Breastfeeding blooming hurts. I was so glad that my sister-in-law warned me of this beforehand, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to do it. Breastfeeding really hurts. Your nipples will probably bleed, and it feels like a slap in the face after all you’ve been through, but it does get much easier. After you’ve cracked it (sorry, mastered it – your nipples will already have cracked days ago) it’s a breeze. Get yourself a good nipple cream (Lansinoh is a lifesaver) and just blast through the tricky beginning. Some people can’t breastfeed for various reasons, but if you can do it, do try. It’s cheap, it’s healthy and you’ve been through a hell of a lot worse already.HPA_Pack_and_Product
  6. Your shape will change. As well as still looking pretty pregnant for a while after your little bundle of joy arrives be prepared for your tummy to look like a giant dog’s bottom (especially around the navel area). Those celebrities who are back in their super-skinny jeans three months later are just ridiculous and clearly have an army of nannies to bring their children up whilst they spend every waking hour at the gym. Don’t put pressure on yourself; you will have loose skin, your boob size will be more up and down than Kerry Katona’s career and your shape will just be slightly different. Whether this is permanent or not I am yet to discover but why not learn to love the changes – they brought you the best thing ever and what you and your body went through together was no mean feat. (FYI don’t bother wasting money on expensive anti-stretch mark creams, just stick to cheap old moisturiser. I obsessively slathered myself in 9 months’ worth of creams and lotions which, when added together, cost almost as much as my first car. I still got stretch marks towards the end so don’t believe the hype).Zara Phillips
  7. You may well wet yourself laughing. In spite of doing daily pelvic floor exercises when pregnant you will be shocked to find that, after the birth, you cannot control your wee stream. It’s scary but true. Many friends told me afterwards about embarrassing urine-related incidents that plagued them for months after they had had their babies. Just try to stay near a loo and avoid trampolines at all cost (this is possibly a more appropriate time for those one-pound-Primark-wonders).
  8. Be prepared to loose sleep for a year. It’s no secret that newborns wake up during the night but older babies and toddlers? This was certainly something I didn’t really think about. If you are one of those very lucky parents whose baby sleeps through the night at six weeks then you are definitely in the minority (and for goodness sake don’t boast about it – everyone will hate you. And I mean everyone). You get so used to waking up through the night that even after they sleep through you may still find yourself waking. And that’s all before teething, nightmares, fevers and climbing out of their cot – let’s not even go into the ‘4 Month Sleep Regression’ – except to say that it happens. Just wave a fond farewell to lie-ins and long, deep sleep and try to appreciate every good night that you do have – it may well be your last for a while.
  9. Sometimes they cry for no reason. I am not sure I really knew this before. After feeding, winding, changing, rocking, cuddling, putting layers on and off etc etc sometimes babies still just cry. You will probably start to wonder if something is wrong – colic? Allergies? Reflux? Most parents I know went through the same phase, spending ridiculous amounts of money on Infacol (and other anti-colic ‘treatments’), and some even went as far as to try cranial osteopathy and other quack ideas. Just take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone, the ‘witching hour’ really does exist (when they cry for no reason from 6pm to 7pm on the dot every night) and that this can be completely normal (a check with a Health Visitor etc might be in order but try not to obsess). I found it a lot less stressful when I accepted that sometimes they will just cry. Try everything, and do whatever you can to keep sane, but it’s not just you. It’s also not just them – I burst into tears for no reason on more than one occasion after I had had him. The sight of a dead mouse outside left me positively inconsolable.
  10. You can forget about what you want for a while. This is probably an obvious one but from the moment your baby arrives you simply won’t have time to feel bored, tired, stressed or worried about minor things. Your wants become secondary to the needs of the baby. I think this is actually a positive thing – it will make you re-assess your reactions to things (once I mastered catching vomit in my hand before it hits a cream carpet I was no longer flustered by minor dramas at work, for instance). Plus, with all your time taken up with the baby you won’t have hours to stare in the mirror and obsess over small matters like a bit of a mum-tum. In time, you can address this but for now you will have bigger fish to fry.
  11. (yes, there is an 11) BUT – None of this stuff actually matters. Trust me on this one. I learned a huge amount over the first few months of being a new mummy and think it changed me in a positive way. Although no one may have spoken about a lot of these topics you soon learn them for yourself, and deal with them in your own way. Others will have been through all this and more, and come out at the end still smiling. The biggest surprise is how none of this really bothered me that much. It gives you camaraderie with other honest parents, and it does make you feel that, if you can survive all this and not be thrown by it, you can probably pretty much survive anything.
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The secret to a successful relationship

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By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

I’ve been pondering on this topic for many months. I am certainly no expert. I have my own theories about what I have learned after being in a relationship for over 11 years, but I wanted to ask an expert panel (A.K.A some helpful friends and family) about what advice they might give when it comes to keeping a relationship happy, and ultimately, successful. Here is what I found out:

Arguments will happen…

Some people that I asked cited arguments (and how to deal with them) as one of the top issues in a healthy relationship. Hannah (in a relationship for 9 years) said ‘have a time-out space to go when an argument gets too much; somewhere to calm down’. Her partner, Andrew, said ‘have a good argument every now and then as it gets it all out of your system!’. Jasper, in a relationship for 22 years, said to ‘make an argument about the issue not about the person. Try to stay calm during an argument and see if you can find common ground rather than trying to beat the other person in to submission’. My Mum (together with my Dad for 50 years this August!) referred more to the bigger picture: ‘it’s important to ultimately agree on things, large or small, to avoid any bad feelings.’

Sleep success

Sleeping habits seemed another important part of a relationship. One person went as far as suggesting you sleep in separate beds, whilst another suggested buying the biggest bed you can afford, to ensure you get your own space. Mrs S (together for 14 years) said it was important to ‘try not to go to bed on an argument (even if you just agree to disagree and call each other silly names before bed)’. Becky (in a relationship for 13 years) also gave me her top tip: ‘If your man falls asleep on the sofa late at night, leave him there snoring and just go to bed yourself. If you dare to wake him, he’ll be so grumpy!’.

Embrace your differences

I have personally learned that celebrating your differences, rather than using them against one another, is something that is important in my own relationship. The people that I asked seemed to suggest a similar stance. Fran (married for 15 years) told me ‘if you look at relationships that seem to struggle, there is often an element of competition (such as whose job is the hardest, who sees their friends less etc). I’m naturally a very non – competitive person, so that helps, but I also appreciate [my partner’s] differences to me and don’t find them annoying. If you find your differences annoying then they are probably not the person for you!’. Emma (together for 5 years) said ‘embrace the differences in one another; keep learning from each other and consciously work at your relationship’. Jasper warned ‘never undermine your partner in public’ and my Mum said she often observes ‘[other couples] having a dig at their partner, which is very demoralising for the person involved [and is] very bad for a relationship.’ Finally, Becky gave me a great example of how her and her partner differ, but how she has learned to accept this: ‘It took me nearly 10 years to realise this one but when [my partner] gets in from a long day at work, I give him 10 minutes to ‘de-work’. I used to waffle all about my day the minute [we both] walked in the door and it drove him crazy!’.

Have some time to yourself

One person that I spoke to said that ‘a partner who doesn’t like you doing anything without them isn’t the partner for you’. A handful of people mentioned that having your own interests and hobbies was key to their relationship, allowing you to consciously choose spending time together. Helena (married for 36 years) said to ‘enjoy some different spheres of interest’ and to spend some time apart: ‘my husband goes off to South Africa for three months each year. At first I greeted this venture with disbelief and horror, but there are some advantages. It has taught us to survive independently, especially me.’ She summed this up as ‘allowing the other person to have existential freedom without whinging.’

Family values

You partner’s family was a hot topic for many people. One said it was ‘vital to get on with their family’ and Helena agreed, citing an important shared enjoyment of others (particularly family and friends) around them. Another said it ‘isn’t essential to get on like a house on fire with all their friends and family but to at least make an effort with those who are important to them’. As for your own family, my Mum mentioned that: ‘once children are on the scene then it’s vital that you both hold the same views about how they should be brought up/disciplined etc as children* – precious though they are – can put a strain on any relationship!’. (*I know you don’t mean ME though, Mother!). Jasper also said ‘always present a united front, especially to the children if you have them’. Very wise words.

Needs, wants and loves

Big romantic gestures, flowers or presents were not mentioned by a single person that I asked. Instead, making an effort to show how much they mean to you was a much more important point that most people spoke about. Jasper said: ‘tell them you love them!’, Mrs Z said ‘take time for just the two of you each day’ and Mrs S said ‘be best friends’. My Mum suggested ‘to put the needs of your partner before your needs are important, also to demonstrate your love rather than just assume that he or she knows.’ Fran also mentioned that ‘I think our relationship works because we are not trying to be in competition with each other’.

Some final wise words from the experts:

  • Always operate an open-bathroom-door policy!’
  • ‘Laugh together every day’.
  • ‘Try to see the big picture and take the long view’.
  • ‘Know what your roles are’.
  • ‘Cook them steak, with chocolate and red wine’.
  • ‘Get a cat’.
  • ‘Having roughly the same level of education helps’.
  • ‘Learning from previous relationships is important as they teach you what’s important to you in a life partner.  For me that was a person who is not moody or jealous!’
  • ‘Never complain about loos and baths. I just clean them in a robotic-like way!’
  • [when I met him over 50 years ago] I just wanted to be with him and no-one else. That feeling is still with me, all these years later’.

There appeared to be key themes that some people agreed upon, but the only thing 100% of people agreed to, when asked, was that humour was indeed one of the most important parts of a strong relationship. (Rumpy-pumpy-related advice was few and far between, but perhaps that was due to politeness – and, considering our relationship, was probably just as well really). Clearly though, every relationship is unique. And, crucially, both partners within that relationship are different. It seems your partner won’t always agree, or see things in the same way that you do, but embrace this difference and I’m told you will be (if not happier) then calmer; and when calmer, you can focus on the bigger picture and enjoy all the good things that certainly exist between you.

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Thank you to all the lovely people who gave me their advice for this piece! I have learned a lot from you, and I hope your tips help get us to the 50-year mark as well! x

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