When eHarmony met the Llewelyn Bowens



We are surrounded by celebrity marriages, whether we care about them or not. From the Beckhams to the Obamas, every aspect – true or not – of their private lives are laid bare in gossip magazines and news stories.

Seeing some couples stand the test of time while others crumble, can make us realise that those in the spotlight are just as affected by the ordinary ups and downs of life as us mere mortals. One of the marriages that has stood the test of time is that of TV interior designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen and his wife Jackie. And we had the terrific opportunity to work out just what makes their 20-year marriage tick when they agreed to visit the eHarmony Labs in California.

Visiting eHarmony’s relationship labs

After 25 years together – much of that spent in the media spotlight – Laurence and Jackie were keen to find out exactly why they are so compatible. In other words, why their relationship has been a success, while other ‘celebrity’ marriages have failed.

eHarmony Labs, headed up by relationship expert Dr Gian Gonzaga, researches how couples interact: what makes a couple click, and what doesn’t. They are the only commercial relationship laboratories in the world, and that’s where we sent Laurence and Jackie to have their marriage analysed by Dr Gonzaga and his team.

Putting the Llewelyn Bowens under the microscope
Using aspects of the eHarmony Compatibility Matching System, which is a huge part of how we match our members based on key dimensions of their personalities, Dr Gonzaga was able to pinpoint what makes the Llewelyn Bowens work. He then asked them to talk over a positive aspect of their relationship, and also a bone of contention – a surprisingly revealing conversation for a couple with 20-years of marriage under their belt.

At first, Laurence was unsure whether they would actually learn anything, but was pleasantly surprised: “Actually our stint at the love laboratory in California was quite revealing. The biggest thing for me was learning that apparently I hide behind humour to diffuse situations or conversations, and that Jackie’s exhausted and feels almost wholly responsible for running the home, the children and our business.”

He added: “ I think we discovered other things that we knew as unstated truths in our relationship. It was nice to hear them brought out into the open and recognised, such as the fact we have such a close, shared sense of humour; the fact we both believed in the same ideals; the fact we had the same goals for our marriage and the fact that we both recognised the important differences that mean we know how to deal with the daily inevitable logistical friction that happens in a long-term relationship.”

Jackie was also able to reveal that while they both have their frustrations with each other, these are outweighed by their love and respect for each other: “Laurence is the most genuinely patient, kind man I’ve ever met, but not in a wimpy way. He’s supremely tolerant and has a calm and considered approach to life whereas I’m more impetuous and more likely to react without thinking. I think if you asked him Laurence would say that my rock solid loyalty and reliability are what he most loves about me.”


Dr Gonzaga’s view

After their time in the eHarmony Labs Dr Gonzaga and his team were able to draw some strong conclusions about the Llewelyn Bowen’s marriage:

•    They obviously share a very deep connection.  They have both a shared history, and a good awareness of the pressures and commitments they have as individuals, despite their busy schedules. The business element of their relationship no doubt helps this – they understand each other in a way that we often see in couples who span both personal and professional realms

•    They also share core personality traits and values, such as their focus on family and their ability to be open and honest with each other, even when they are in disagreement.

•    Laurence and Jackie have a very positive, laughter-filled way of being with each other – this is an indicator of both satisfaction and intimacy in close relationship. They also have a common cultural background that they clearly like to display, using references and nicknames. This relaxed affection is evident with their family too.

•    Though humour is a very positive element of a relationship, Laurence does use it to sometimes shy away from difficult subjects.

•    As in all relationships, the Llewelyn Bowens still have some issues of contention, mostly stemming from the business side of their partnership. E.g. Laurence talks about ‘our business’ while Jackie talks about ‘his business’, expressing that she can feel under appreciated.

An important part of their relationship is that they are realistic – they know that Laurence is the more recognisable of the partnership and this will cause an inherent imbalance. But, as long as they both keep track of this, they will be able to keep the tension to a minimum.

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