Jul 20, 2017

So what ARE the BEST years in a marriage? Four couples at different stages of their married lives reveal unexpected answers on everything from sex to arguments and children

Kaylie Cooper, 31, an NHS support worker, and husband Ben, 28, a self-employed builder, from Ware, Hertfordshire, married last September.

KAYLIE SAYS:

Ben and I lived together for four years before our wedding. As both our parents are divorced, we were a bit wary of marriage.

But, having been to lots of friends’ weddings, I really wanted my ‘big day’.

Having spent all our savings on our wedding — we had 90 of our friends and family, a hog roast and a vintage ice cream van during the day and 250 guests in the evening — we’re now saving for a deposit on a house.

Getting on the property ladder is no mean feat for our generation and, as we’d like to start a family in a couple of years, it means working all hours and saving every penny.

Consequently, we’re permanently shattered, so sex is not top of our list of priorities, as I imagine it was for newlyweds in a bygone age when couples hadn’t already lived together and had that ‘honeymoon period’ before they wed.

Our work patterns — Ben starts early and my shifts finish late — can mean we can go for days without seeing much of one another. Generally, we’re very harmonious, though. We’ve only had two arguments since getting married, both about money. Neither of us is happy seeing the other frittering cash.

BEN SAYS:

I love seeing letters come through our door addressed to Mr and Mrs Cooper, it makes me feel like a really solid couple.

My parents split up when I was only five. I didn’t see my dad for a few years afterwards and envied friends whose parents were married. I really wanted that stability for my own children.

It seems so much harder for our generation. To get a mortgage, for example, we have to amass a huge deposit. Having to work so hard impacts on our relationship.
I love seeing letters come through our door addressed to Mr and Mrs Cooper, it makes me feel like a really solid couple - Ben

Sex is important in a marriage, but often I’m so shattered I’m asleep by 8pm. However, we do go on holiday a couple of times a year. This summer we’ll go to Krakow.

We don’t live in each other’s pockets because we have our hobbies — I like fishing and Kaylie does yoga and meditation. I guess, once we have children, we’ll have a bit less time for these things.

But I’m confident that having a child will enhance our relationship as Kaylie will be home for a few months on maternity leave, so we’ll see more of one another.

She’ll definitely go back to work. Very few married couples can survive on one wage these days.’
MARRIED TEN YEARS...

Kim Herbing, 35, and husband David, 36, from Devizes, Wiltshire, run a wedding planning website and have two children, Freya, five, and Mia, 22 months.

KIM SAYS:

Our lives have changed so much over the past decade.

We adore our children but it’s a very stressful, tiring time, looking after them and running a business. Everyone tells us we’re now in the most challenging phase of married life.

Most of our arguments are money-related. I’ll say I’m nipping out for milk and come back with £40 worth of groceries, which frustrates David because he’s very frugal.

The dishwasher is another flashpoint — I joke that if we ever get divorced it will be because I’ve not stacked the plates properly.

Unlike our parents’ generation, we pretty much share everything equally, we both work and we both do the domestic chores and split the childcare.

David is very fair-minded and would never think of anything as being ‘women’s work’, which is one of the many things I love about him.

But having children kills spontaneity in so many ways. While I think that David is in the mood for sex more often, spending time together drinking a glass of wine and catching up is more important to me at this stage.

Life will be easier when Mia starts school. But they’re both still so young it’s hard to imagine that one day the girls will grow up and move out and it will be just the two of us again.’

DAVID SAYS:

‘I don’t feel any resentment that our life now is all about the family — we both adore our girls. Most evenings, once they’re in bed, we’ll fill one another in about what’s been happening at work or home, but there are times when we sit slumped in front of the TV, too exhausted to exchange a word.

'If we want to go out for a romantic meal, we have to plan it well in advance so we can arrange a baby-sitter. But that makes me appreciate the time we do spend together as a couple all the more.

'Obviously, we can no longer make love whenever we fancy, but that means we make more of an effort when we do.

'I’m not a lovey-dovey romantic guy who’s always paying my wife compliments, but I do feel very lucky to be married to Kim. She’s a great mum and wife.’
MARRIED 25 YEARS...

Julie Shaw, 53, an author, and husband Ben, 54, live in Bridlington, East Yorkshire. Julie has two children from a previous marriage, Kylie, 32, and Scott, 31, who Ben has helped to raise, and six grandchildren. They now foster.

JULIE SAYS:

Ben is my second husband. My first marriage was very unhappy — I divorced my ex on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour — so it was really important to me to make a success of this one.

We married within 18 months of getting together and in the early days had quite a volatile relationship. Most of the rows were started by me: I was determined never to be told what to do by a man again.

I’m lucky that Ben was happy to bear with me, and prove he wasn’t trying to control me, one of the many reasons I love him.
Sex has always been a very important part of our relationship though, to put it bluntly, we’ve gone from making love twice a day to once every two days over the years - Ben

We still have a very physical relationship.

Intimacy, honesty and laughter have all been major factors in the success of our marriage. The other secret to staying together has been training as specialist foster carers.

I found it very hard to bear when my children left home a decade ago, but this has given us a whole new focus.

These days we’re much more laid back and will only bicker a couple of times a month — usually about whose turn it is to put the bins out.

Like Theresa May with her husband, I insist it’s Ben’s job, while he says we should take turns.’