As a Marriage therapist of 20 years, I’ve learned that if you want to live happily ever after, you need to work on the relationship right from the start.
For those of us watching The Crown in Season 5, many are reminiscing about where we were when we watched the royal wedding. I remember being a wee 7-year old and watching the Crown with my sister Shira, then 6 and girl cousins and aunties (the men just didn’t seem as mesmerized) in the summer of 1981 as we crammed into a small bungalow to watch the epic wedding of the century.
Even as Americans we were glued to news of Charles and Diana’s royal marriage for years. Princess Diana’s authentic smile and kind mannerisms completely mesmerized us. Catching a glimpse into their lives did something for us. It made is believe in fairy tales. It gave the world a feeling of hopefulness about the ephemeral feelings of love.
Having been married to a Brit for 20 years and dwelling in the commonwealth for 7 years and because I carry a certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy, I feel fully qualified to weigh in on the Crown’s tumultuous Royal marriage of Princess Diana and HRH, Prince Charles.
Let’s for a moment believe the script of The Crown sticking to the facts. We have here a man who from the start has admitted to not being in love. “Whatever in love means” responds Charles days before his nuptials to Diana when a reporter asks him whether they are in love?
And while I can write an entire essay on whatever “in love” means, Charles’ response sent shock waves through the telly – “why?” Because many believe if you have not answered “yes,” without hesitation to the question of whether you are in love, three days prior to your wedding, you probably aren’t headed on the road to happily ever after.
As a marriage therapist, my advice to anyone who can’t answer this question prior to the wedding is to spend a few sessions in therapy prior to engagement to learn whether this person is the one you want to watch polo and build your castle. Therapy is not only for those with issues. Like going to the dentist to prevent cavities, therapy is a proactive preventative measure ensuring the road to happily ever after is well paved. No relationship is without issues. It’s how you deal with the issues that can help a marriage work.
In the case of Diana and Charles, no one can ever mend a marriage if one of the parties are harping on old flames. Many of my clients held a candle for a previous partner. Once they can truly allow that person to be extinguished- the marriage can be a success. By forever comparing your current partner to a former flame you haven’t fully allowed that person to leave the relationship. It’s over…move on.
Lack of Communication
Another fault in the Royal marriage was the lack of communication. Charles’s inability to communicate stems from his lack of experience since childhood. In one incredibly sad episode, Charles attempts to discuss his failed marriage with his Mum, the Queen. She brushes him off and tells him to stand up because by sitting, he might mistakenly believe this will become a long conversation. She proceeds to lecture before listening and he never actually gets a change to tell her what he was feeling. The viewer understands this is how it has always been. Charles’ feelings were never validated. His emotions are always shut down. He was trained to have no empathy.
Ask yourself, is there is a point in my past where I have experienced trauma, thereby blocking my ability to love? Trauma is often misunderstood as just a moment or an event. There are so many other types of past traumas that are often the cause of your inability to love properly.
Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to function well. It causes feelings of helplessness, lowers our sense of self and our ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. When we experience trauma it blocks our ability to see clearly and make well-reasoned decisions for ourselves. Trauma therapy gets our brains back on track so we can have better peripheral vision and see things in better focus and feel better about ourselves.
Check out this link which explains how trauma gets in the way of a healthy and loving relationship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BclhDeuSPc
While the entire world held Diana on a pedestal, Charles could not respect her, nor could he sympathize with her excruciating pain. The juxtaposition of Margaret Thatcher’s marriage to Dennis Thatcher is one where respect and admiration is present and therefore allows for a loving partnership.
Charles’ inability to respect his wife, consistently making her feel worthless and unconfident, cauterized the relationship never allowing a moment of love to enter.
Do you respect your partner? Do you make fun of them, either to their face or even behind their back? Are you proud of your partner when they are being lauded? Can you allow your partner to flourish and achieve their best self by supporting their interests even if you don’t see their merits?
I’ve worked with many clients where they didn’t see how putting down their partner, blocked the way to having a safe and loving relationship.
If you are not ready to make it your duty to work on a marriage then you may be headed to happily ever after, After.
Things you MUST do to Create a Happily Ever After NOW
- Notice how you feel about yourself
- Use positive language to express your feelings towards your partner
- Do things to boost your partner, not put them down
- Pay attention to the things you love about your partner
- Heap praise upon them for it
- AVOID Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling at all Costs (John Gottman’s 4 apocalyptic horsemen of marriage) https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-recognizing-criticism-contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/
- Spend time every day nourishing your relationship
If doing any of these things is a struggle for you, be sure to get help so you can have a Happily Ever After, NOW!
Micki Lavin-Pell is a professional Marriage therapist and Relationship Coach. Check out her website for more information about how she can greatly improve the success of your relationships: https://www.mickilavinpell.co.il.