I broadcast on television and radio for Marriage Foundation, and did a series of five interviews on marriage, with Loretta Andrews, at Premier, which are on YouTube, and being aired throughout May, every Thursday afternoon. I’ve made several vlogs for this year’s Marriage Week, and I also present a podcast, The M Word, with Nick.
National Marriage Week is an annual focus on and celebration of marriage, to highlight the benefits of a healthy marriage to society, the media, and the Government. It encourages couples to reflect on and invest in their relationship, to consider what’s working well, what could be improved, and then act on both. This year it’s 13 to 19 May, and our theme is “Recipe for a Healthy Marriage”.
Sometimes it’s just the small, everyday things that can become a wedge between couples, rather than the big things. We’re encouraging couples to think about six key relationship ingredients: commitment, kindness, communication, intimacy, forgiveness, and friendship. All of these things require couples to be intentional about their relationship, and, if it highlights some small or major concerns for them, our website can direct them to organisations that can help.
National Marriage Week isn’t a Christian campaign, although in the main it’s Christian organisations that have historically been involved. Anyone, of any faith or background, is encouraged to join in. We’ve partnered with several organisations who promote marriage and family stability.
After pursuing various opportunities, I got a place on a one-year creative-arts course for Christians, run by David and Carrie Grant. It was through their links with God TV that I became a children’s TV presenter when I was about 25.
I presented children’s TV and the QVC shopping channel, and also worked on youth engineering shows. The most difficult thing was learning minutiae about fragrance notes for Yankee Candles as their brand ambassador on QVC. I’ve also worked in the theatre, presenting “An Evening with Rosemary Conley”; alongside Michael Rodd, presenting at a number of youth engineering shows; and interviews with the cast of Love Beyond the Musical.
I love talking to people and finding out about them and their story, and speaking about things that I’m passionate about, like marriage.
My marriage has always been a priority for me, and it’s made a huge difference to the person I am. Nick and I always felt that it was important to champion each other, and, as a consequence, I feel empowered to do so much more than I might have thought possible. We’ve been married for 20 years now, and we have two teenage children.
We were blessed to have parents who had strong marriages — both Christian couples, but very different as people — and my passion for marriage comes out of that sense of fulfilment, and my sadness when people I love have separated or divorced. You want the best for people, don’t you?
I heard Sir Paul Coleridge speaking at a Time for Marriage conference about the work of Marriage Foundation, and got in touch. I began attending their advisory board meetings, and, in time, I was asked to co-ordinate the UK National Marriage Week.
If I could change one thing to help marriages, I’d offer free relationship courses to all couples before marriage, and then marriage enrichment later on. Our website directs couples to courses offered by our partners, like the Marriage Course, Time for Marriage, and Marriage Care.
There’s another thing: I’d like to see a shift in expectations that weddings have to cost a lot of money, to encourage more couples to marry.
According to our Marriage Foundation research, marriages are still far more likely to work and last than any other sort of relationship. Nearly all parents — 90 per cent — who stay together until their children reach 15 are married.
Sadly, cohabitation is the biggest driver of family breakdown. Cohabiting parents make up 19 per cent of all couples with dependent children, but account for half of all family breakdown. They may not have had what I describe as “the forever conversation” about their future commitment. They can “slide and not decide”: living with each other without deciding about the future, which can have serious consequences on the relationship. At Marriage Foundation, we don’t have any data on civil partnerships, as they are very recent and a much small number of couples are in a civil partnership, but these do offer mutual commitment.
The vast majority of teenagers say that they want to marry; but, later, they tend to move in together with a partner “to see how it goes”; so we’re thinking about how we can encourage young people to consider marriage again, because it works just as well today as it used to.
But marriages do break down, and, sadly, the biggest reason given for divorce is “drifting apart”, according to 39 per cent of husbands and 36 per cent of wives. This is sad, because looking after your marriage and regularly investing in the relationship could make a huge difference.
What’s interesting is that, because there’s less social pressure to marry, when couples do marry, there is greater commitment from the outset, which means that the divorce rate is dropping: all very good news.
I remember being about eight or nine, and asking my mum how you knew that you were a Christian. She said that it’s when you invite Jesus into your heart; so I promptly went upstairs to my bedroom, knelt down, and asked him into my heart. I then went back down to Mum and told her that I’d asked Jesus in, but I didn’t feel any different. I later went to a crusade, and, at the age of ten, I decided to give my life to Jesus. As this was an evangelistic crusade in the ’80s, I was given a Luke for London to take home to read.
Sometimes, people come to faith in an instant, but I now see that we’re all on a journey. Sometimes, we begin to meet with Jesus before an official moment, as such. I’m definitely on a continual journey with Jesus. I’m passionate about knowing him more deeply as my friend as well as the person I want to worship and pursue — to see his Kingdom come in my life and beyond.
I want to make a difference to the lives of others through Jesus in me. Nick and I have loved connecting with the 24-7 prayer movement, which was instigated by Pete Grieg in 1999 (Features, Podcast, 12 April). We’ve grown to love their DNA as an honest and real expression of being in relationship with Jesus, and seeing his Kingdom come through prayer, mission, and justice. Injustice is what makes me angry.
I love the sound of coffee beans being ground, and either one of my kids singing and playing a ukulele — most of the time — or peace and quiet. I’m really enjoying music by Housefires and Oh Wonder.
I’m happiest just being with family and friends.
Skiing’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I skied for the first time two years ago, and, although I managed to do several blue runs in the end, I was incredibly scared, and I’ve decided it’s not for me.
It’s probably my kids that I pray for most. Prayer isn’t just about praying for things, though: I often talk to God about general stuff that is going on. I want him to be involved in all aspects of my life, and so my phrase for the past year has been “noticing his nearness”.
If I were to choose a biblical character to be locked in a church with, it would be Esther. I’ve always admired her, and how God was able to work through her in the most unlikely of circumstances. On a personal level, I’ve been given prophetic words about Esther and her story, and so it would be incredible to speak with her about what she did with God leading her, and hearing her deep reflections and emotions on all that happened. I’d also like to meet Jane Austen and talk about all of her novels.
Michaela Hyde was talking to Terence Handley MacMath. marriagefoundation.org.uk;
Marriage Week runs from 13 to 19 May: marriage-week.org.uk