Mrs Dee and I have been a functioning unit for so many years that we’ve reached the stage where we have to do the calculation to work out how long we’ve been married rather than just knowing – the same thing happens with your age as you grow older, people, so get used to it.
But even in the first flush of doe-eyed romance I was always quite firm on the subject of Valentine’s Day, and have remained so – it’s for mugs.
If you want to put a good gloss on it, I don’t need a specific date in the calendar to remind me about the need for a little romance in our lives.
A random bunch of flowers arriving out of the blue is much better value for money – it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg because of the Valentine premium, it gives more bang for your buck because it is unexpected, and it also has the additional benefit of keeping the little lady on her toes as she wonders whether I have just done something I am atoning for. Of course I haven’t, but a little edge never hurts.
So, knock Valentine’s Day on the head and concentrate on everyday maintenance is my tip.
The advice from the experts is to have a regular relationship MoT, and now I hear of a study from some American university which reckons taking time out three times a year to write a brief report to each other is a good way of keeping things on track.
It only takes seven minutes a time, apparently, and it can be done online so you don’t even have to be embarrassed that you can’t read your partner’s deteriorating handwriting any more. 120 couples, newlyweds and grizzled veterans alike, were put through the programme and the results seemed to show that those who stopped and took stock three times a year were much more likely to still be happy together. If they rowed, they still rowed as much – but because of the regular clear the air sessions, the rows didn’t go on to cause widening rifts.
Like most successful strategies, this one is rooted in common sense – talk to each other, you dummies, don’t bottle stuff up and you’ll be the better for it.
As it happens, Mrs Dee and I have a relationship writing exercise of our own which I am happy to share. Every day she tackles the quick crossword in our daily paper. Sometimes she finishes it, which is slightly unsettling as it indicates she has no need of me. Random flowers may be in order.
Sometimes she can’t, so I can step in, show off and be reassured. Sometimes neither of us can work it out, and we moan to each other about the creep who set the puzzle. That’s another secret of a successful marriage, by the way – have a common enemy that you can both bitch about.