WHAT is the secret to a long and happy marriage? Is it friendship, romance, love, lust or a great sex life?
According to Joan Collins’ the answer is simple.
“Sex, sex, and sex,’’ she replied last week, when asked about the success of her 12-year marriage to Percy Gibson, who is 32 years her junior.
Although she may be approaching her 81st birthday, the actress shows no signs of slowing down. Her active sex life, she reported, helps to keep her feeling young.
“We’re very, very happy. It wasn’t an immediate attraction necessarily, it was an immediate ‘I like this guy’,’’ she said.
For the Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg, 67, the answer is also simple. Make time for your partner. Married for 22 years to the actress Kate Capshaw, the couple looked like newlyweds recently as they were pictured holding hands and wearing matching caps while doing the coffee run.
They met when Kate starred in his film Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. “The prettiest thing that came out of that film was my future wife. I met Kate, my leading lady. And my leading lady is still my leading lady,’’ he says.
For Helen Mirren, 67, loyalty and honesty are the key factors that make her 17-year marriage to the American film director, Taylor Hackford, a success.
“Taylor isn’t romantic, but what I get on the other side is so much better,’’ she says.
“Loyalty and truthfulness — I’d take those qualities over romantic evenings any time.
“I have the incredible advantage of having a husband who is both loyal and understanding. In return I give him back loyalty and understanding too. We wouldn’t be married without that.’’
Mirren has also revealed that she would be “completely horrified’’ if her husband gave her a Valentine’s Day card.
“That’s not our sort of relationship at all — we would pour cold water on that sort of thing,’’ she says. “We even forget to get each other birthday presents. I’m always thinking the day before, “Oh I must get Taylor something for his birthday.’
“Without being corny, we try simply to be considerate to each other every day rather than lavishing each other with gifts.’’
Lisa O’Hara, a counsellor with Relationships Ireland, believes all these words of advice ring true and are important in helping to create a happy marriage.
“The bottom line for any couple is to work out what it is that makes you feel love and connected. It is not just about sex for everybody. However, it can be important to nourish it as a couple,’’ she says.
“It is a big myth that people stop having sex as they get older. In fact sex can be fantastic as you enter that later stage of your life. If you both like it then it can be a very important part of your bond. It keeps you close.’’
O’Hara emphasises that for a relationship to succeed and be happy it is crucial to understand what your partner likes, needs and what is important to them, even if you don’t necessarily feel the same way.
“Do you know what your partner likes, what helps them to stay connected to the relationship? Do they know what you like, too? Do they honour that as best they can?
“Some people love gestures of physical affection, for others it doesn’t matter. But it’s important to find out what works for your partner and to honour it. It is about paying attention. Most people know what makes them feel soft inside,’’ she says.