David Beckham shocked fans earlier this week when he branded his marriage to Victoria difficult.
And now a relationship expert has explained that the frank admission reveals the couple are no longer "in love".
Instead the Beckhams have reached a "calmer and deeper" stage in their relationship – after nearly 20 years of marriage.
“I think marriage, marriage is always about hard work,” David said in an interview with Australian TV show The Sunday Project.
“You know your children — they want your time and they deserve your time, and difficult situations like travelling away, being away from each other you know, you make it work.”
"Maybe David’s turn of phrase was not as tactful as it might have been, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that marriage can be hard work," Dr Becky Spelman – psychologist and We-Vibe’s Relationship expert told Mirror Online.
"In fact, every successful marriage is hard work, and that’s what makes it successful!
"Research shows that the period of being ‘in love’ rarely lasts for more than two or three years.
"Throughout that period, we typically think our partner is the most wonderful person in the world, we’re always ready to make love, and we still get excited at the prospect of seeing them at the end of a day apart.
"With time, this heady, passionate love starts to change. This is inevitable.
"Living in close quarters with someone, seeing them at their worst as well as their best, dealing with the daily challenges of life, and the simple passage of time all come together to reveal our loved one’s feet of clay. This is where the hard work comes in.
"Over time, the initial passionate love that a couple typically feels at the outset of their relationship can mature into a calmer, deeper, and even more profound emotion. However, this does not happen automatically.
David Beckham in Oz
"It means sticking together when one member of the couple is unwell, learning to tolerate or even appreciate certain habits that you find challenging, and working together to keep the household or the family going, through thick and thin.
"There’s a reason why the marriage vows ask a couple to promise to be there for one another in sickness as well as in health! Life can be challenging, and couples have promised to face those challenges together.
"In some ways, David Beckham has done his followers a favour. When celebrity marriages are depicted as all plain sailing, it can give people a false impression of what “regular’ marriages are like.
"Similarly, when we see our favourite celebs getting divorced at the drop of a hat, we can pick up the impression that it’s normal to ditch a relationship as soon as it starts getting difficult.
"When we see someone we look up to and admire admitting that it can be tough keeping a long marriage fresh and happy, we are given realistic expectations.
"If Victoria did not appreciate reading that her husband of many years considers their marriage “hard work”, that is easy to understand. However, Victoria herself is the ultimate hard worker, and you can be sure that she has also put a lot of work into her marriage, to make it thrive despite the various challenges that she and David have faced.
"Here’s hoping that this wonderful couple will work through the current storm to continue with their inspirational relationship!"
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