SHOULD you ever marry a “perennial bachelor”? It’s a vexing question if you’ve landed your own George Clooney.
Swiss author D.H. Barkley, author of George Clooney: From Bachelor to Betrothed. (www.clooneythebook.com), says her mother’s advice was that you should never marry a longstanding bachelor, as they were set in their ways and unaccustomed to compromise.
But leopards can change their spots, argues Barkley, who points out that Warren Beatty, after a string of relationships with beautiful women, married in his mid-50s.
“More than 20 years and four children later, he and actress Annette Bening are still together – no small feat in Hollywood,” she says.
Here are her seven all-purpose ingredients for long-term romantic success, no matter how old or crusty your bachelor.
1. Similarity: “Research shows that if we want our romantic relationships to last, we should search for ‘homogamy’ in a partner – that means someone similar to us, particularly in values. Borne out by several studies, showing that similarity between partners for various characteristics, including age, background, intelligence, socioeconomic status, and values predict greater relationship success.” Opposites may attract but, in the long-term, they are likely to repel.
2. Realistic expectations: No one is perfect, says Barkley, and it is quite normal to feel we don’t like our partner from time to time. Actually it’s also quite normal to feel like you might want to take to them with a blunt instrument but those keen to stay out of the legal system avoid this route.
3. Friendship: “After the first flush of love is over, we need a true friend to weather day-to-day life.” Friendship goes the distance, lust rarely lasts, sadly.
4. Equality: This means we have balanced power in the relationship, we can act independently of our partner’s control, influence their actions, and participate equally in decision-making, says Barkley. Most of all, we’re not the only one who does the dishes and cleans the loo.
5. Commitment: This does not refer to a mental health institution but about making the relationship a priority. “It’s also about having ties together, such as joint possessions and family, which help keep us glued together during rocky times.” In other words, if it’s too hard to split the sofa/kingbed/DVD collection, why get a divorce.
6. Understanding: “As mentioned in the bestselling relationship book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, many of our relationship troubles start because men and women are more different than we may think. When women have problems we want care and understanding, but our partner offers solutions and resentment builds as we feel we were not listened to. To help solve his problems we try to be supportive by offer comforting, unsolicited advice, but our good intentions make him feel smothered and controlled.” Given this, let’s settle for just a smidgeon of understanding.
7. Conflict resolution: Conflicts are normal and inevitable in any partnership, and it seems that mutually satisfactory resolution to disagreements is key to the continued harmony, satisfaction, and even survival of the relationship, says Barkley. Under no circumstances should your partnership remind people of the Middle East conflict.
Note: 50 per cent of the author’s net proceeds go to Clooney’s charity Not On Our Watch.