Would you ask a singleton for couples advice?

A friend is getting married very soon, and as part of the pre-wedding festivities I was asked to proffer a piece of bridal advice/ marital bliss secret. The difficulty is that not having ever been married I didn’t really have any material… How can I possibly give advice for something I have yet to be shown to be successful at? My only option was to use my skills as a researcher and look up some information given by others – consider this to be evidence-based advice.  Before I launch into my suggestions for ‘martial bliss’ I should mention that this friend is a fellow researcher so the structure will (hopefully) make sense to her…

Bridal Advice from Dr Michelle:

Introduction: As an unwed person, I did not feel that I had the expertise to impart advice on how to have a successful marriage. However, I could do what I do best – research the topic…

Method: A (not so extensive) review of the literature published in the last 20 years  (search term: “successful marriage”; databases: PSYCINFO, MEDLINE, COCHRANE; limits: “humans”, “English”) was conducted. The search identified a huge number of peer-reviewed papers. Titles were screened for relevance and abstracts reviewed. Articles were excluded if they were not related to factors contributing to a successful marriage or abstracts were not easily accessible (my theory: if you can’t get it online it’s not worth having…).  A final sample of nine qualitative papers were included in this review.

Results: The literature indicates that in the factors contributing to the longevity of a happy marriage are numerous and unique. The most commonly mentioned factors for include friendship, love, and similar backgrounds or interests (Bachand et al, 2001). These can be formulated in the following ways (Daneshpour et al, 2011):
a) we trust each other and are committed,
b) we consult with each other,
c) we think our relationship is intimate,
d) we solve our own problems,
e) we cooperate with each other in children’s upbringing
f) we share common beliefs, and
g) we express our love to each other.

Studies indicate that no couples avoid experiencing difficulties however this can be overcome by creating personal models of interaction (Maatta & Uusiautti, 2012). These models of interaction are often developed and change during the first two years of marriage (Noller et al, 1998; Behrens & Sanders, 1994; Hawley & Olson, 1995) thus an important task for newlyweds is to learn how to communicate successfully and find ways to resolve conflict in a constructive fashion (Markman et al, 1984).  These recommendations are supported by the predictors of rate of dissolution of relations: including compassion level for alternatives, amount of time spent together, support from partner’s social network, and duration of the relationship (Felmlee et al, 1990). Data also suggests that empathic responses are essential to successful relationships, which are further enhanced when the views held about partners are consistent with self-perceptions (Fields, 1983)

Limitations: There are way too many limitations to list them all, and lets be honest, this will not withstand any form of peer review…

Conclusions: Relationships are hard work – and both parties need to be willing to put the effort in. Always be considerate and appreciative of the other person and say “thank you”, even for the small things.  Be honest and worthy of trust. Communicate! DO NOT leave issues unresolved (good rule of thumb is to never go to sleep on an argument). Above all, remember that things are not always going to be rosy, and a marriage is about enjoying the highs and pushing through the lows. Always love each other.

Yes, I will admit that this is very daggy – but I had no choice – anything else was going to sound naff!  What advice would you give?

We were also asked to provide a recipe for the couple (this is certainly one of the things do for hen’s parties that I organise) and I submitted the Armenian Nutmeg Cake – since I have already blogged about that I thought I might pull out a recipe from a previous hen’s-related do.

This is an easy recipe that is bound to impress and suit most tastes (as long as you like chocolate). The important trick is to not over cook – when the instructions say 12-15 minutes it really means no more than 15 mins – I once had them in for 16 minutes and the cakes were cooked through. Although still delicious, they were lacking the ‘wow’ factor you get when you cut them open and the insides ooze out (oh – that sounds a little gross… trust me though it is fabulous).  I don’t have a photo so you will have to trust me 🙂

Molten Chocolate Puddings

Serves 4

185g dark chocolate chunks
100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar (if you are doubling the recipe, do not double the sugar, use 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp plain flour
Icing sugar to dust and something to serve with (e.g. ice cream, cream, strawberries etc)

1. Thoroughly butter 4 large ramekins or muffing tins and refrigerate (you want them to be cold). Melt chocolate and butter in a small heat proof bowl (leave uncovered and microwave in bursts of 1 minute, then 30 seconds thereafter until melted and smooth).

2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together with a hand held which. Sift in the flour. Use a large metal spoon to lightly and quickly stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Pour the mixture into the chilled ramekins/ tins and refrigerate for a LEAST 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Once hot, put the puddings in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until well risen (but still wobbly). Turn out of ramekins with the help of a small spatula or butter knife. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with something creamy (ice cream or thick cream).

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8 Responses to Would you ask a singleton for couples advice?

  1. Katie says:

    I love this! Well done 🙂

  2. Kathy Kam says:

    I love your blog! I miss chatting w/ you, Michelle! it’s been too long.

  3. Such a great post Michelle! Fantastic – so lovely to read 🙂
    As a side note – I missed you at the reunion!! 🙂

  4. Claire says:

    Love it!! Xx

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