Don’t do what Jamie and Jools Oliver have done with their marriage – go further

Jamie Oliver has revealed the secret ingredient to a happy marriage – by doing it all over again.

Yes, you heard that right: Jamie and Jools, who first wed 23 years ago, have renewed their vows in a romantic ceremony on the beach in the Maldives, supported by their five children.

Jamie posted about it on Instagram, sharing a selfie of the Oliver family grinning into the camera, along with the words: “Morning all, me and @joolsoliver got married again!”

He explained: “Yep, after 23 years together, we thought it would be a special moment to celebrate renewing our wedding vows before the kids all start leaving the nest. It was really special, funny and romantic with the words in the ceremony making more sense having come this far together.”

Some people might be looking at this story and wondering why it’s news. Others might assume that renewing your wedding vows usually comes when things have reached a low ebb; it’s a sign that you’ve arrived at the cliff edge of your relationship and will do anything to give it one last kick. It might seem like a desperate attempt to whack a sticking plaster on a marriage that’s already fatally wounded.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who think renewing your wedding vows is pointless, but I think it might just be the most important thing you can do for the happiness of your relationship.

In fact, we should be “renewing” our vows to each other much more often than every two decades – how about every three to five years?

After all, you take your car in for an MOT once a year and that’s not (usually) something you’re deeply in love with. So, why not show the same level of care and maintenance towards something you feel truly passionate about: your relationship?

The Belgian-American psychotherapist Esther Perel agrees: she advises couples to perform these relationship “renewals” much more often than every 23 years.

Relationships require frequent pulse checks with one another,” she writes. “Even the seemingly small act of being present while you check in on a loved one – really being there with them and listening to them – can open new channels of connection.”

Instead of approaching a conversation with “You’re making me feel like X”, or “you never do Y”, Perel says try expressing what you’re concerned about in the relationship from a personal perspective.

This could be something as simple as: “I’d love us to spend more quality time together.”

What Jamie and Jools have done is brilliant. My only criticism might be that they should have done it sooner. Not every couple is lucky enough to have 23 years as a first chapter.

Don’t leave it so long to tell the person you love that you’re loving the life you’ve built with them, or that you’re committed to working on whatever problems may arise. If you’re going to commit to each other, you should also commit to the health of that partnership.

Checking in with each other every three to five years doesn’t feel too frequent for something so important.


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