An Open Letter to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

While we could send flowers to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the best gift we can give is sound relationship advice.

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Unless you don’t go on the internet or watch the news, then you know that the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is this weekend. Between radio, television, and social media, Harper’s Bazaar is estimating that nearly three billion people will tune into the event. That’s over one-third of the world’s population.

Clearly, we can’t get enough of the royal spectacle.

And if you’re married or engaged, then you know that everyone has advice before your big day.

Never go to bed angry.

Your kids should come first.

Marriage is 50/50.

With all due respect to your Aunt Karen, these are marriage myths. We know this because we’ve spent the last four decades studying thousands of couples to understand why marriages succeed or fail. So while we could send flowers to the royal couple, we feel that the best wedding gift we can give is sound relationship advice.

Dear Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,

Congratulations! We are not attending the wedding (our invitation must have been lost in the mail) so we’d like to take this opportunity to share some science-based words of wisdom with you. We are fans of The Crown so we have a pretty good idea how this Royal Family thing works.

Don’t stop dating

While a wedding feels like a culmination of your relationship, it’s really just the beginning. The first things to fly out the window in a marriage are fun and romance. So take time for fun—just the two of you and make it a ritual that you can count on—whether it’s traveling somewhere for a weekend getaway or meeting once a week for afternoon tea.

Keep dating each other and keep trying to win each other’s attention and affection. Openly admire your partner and tell them something that you absolutely adore about them every day. And don’t forget to be affectionate. We recommend a daily 6-second kiss.

Sometimes, when couples settle into married life, they turn their attention to their careers and raising a family, and in doing so they lose sight of what made their relationship special. So those rituals of connection that you can count on are very important.

Marriage is hard work

Nobody tells you that marriage is going to be hard work, so we are. It’s not easy. You will have good days and bad days. Sometimes you might not even like each other. Keep working at it.

Think about your relationship like an Emotional Bank Account. You make “deposits” through positive interactions and “withdrawals” through negative interactions. Keep your balance high by doing nice things for each other every day and recognizing when your partner does nice things for you. It’s the most important investment you’ll ever make.

You won’t solve your problems

Our research revealed that almost two-thirds of relationship problems are unsolvable. These “perpetual problems” are caused by personality differences between partners. As long as you can talk to each other about these problems with respect, then you can manage them.

Some of your perpetual problems may not be what everyday couples deal with, but you’ll still have to discuss those unavoidable marital issues that do come up, like how to make time for each other in your busy lives.

It’s also important to process big fights and arguments. We call them regrettable incidents and they happen in every relationship. They’re inevitable. When you do fight, take some time to cool down, then listen to each other’s perspective about what went wrong and own your part in it.

Honor each other’s dreams

It’s important to understand and support each other’s dreams in life. This can be especially challenging in royal marriages. Princess Grace Kelly gave up her career as an actress when she married Prince Rainier III.

Will Meghan also transition from an acting career to being full-time royalty? If so, what does that mean to her?

Ask each other open-ended questions to understand what your dreams are and why, and do as much as you can to make them happen so that you both feel fulfilled and satisfied in your marriage. Be each other’s champion.

Find causes that you can support together. That’s honoring each other’s dreams in a way, but it’s also creating a sense of shared meaning: this is who we are as a couple and this is what we believe in.

In your first interview after announcing your engagement, you said, “Whatever we have to tackle together or individually, will always be us together as a team.” Sounds like you’ve been reading our blog! That’s a sign of solidarity in your relationship, and solidarity is key to lasting love.

We wish you the very best in your marriage. Stop by the Love Lab and see us sometime.

With love,

The Gottman Institute

Prepare for marriage with The Marriage Minute, our free email newsletter that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Got a minute? Sign up below.

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Michael Fulwiler is the former Chief Marketing Officer of The Gottman Institute. He has a B.A. with Honors in English from the University of Washington. Outside of work, Michael is a baseball coach and cautiously optimistic Seattle Mariners fan.

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