05/01/2012 05:32 EDT | Updated 02/17/2014 09:59 EST

Couples' Public Behaviour: What 'Commoner' Couples Can Learn From Will And Kate


It's been a year since the royal couple tied the knot, and we haven't seen a single slip-up: No public tantrums, sloppy make-out sessions or tense moments. Can you say the same about your relationship?

If Will and Kate have taught us anything, it's that in public you should treat your partner like royalty, with respect and mutual support, couples therapy expert Debra Macleod observes.

"They are poised and present a united front in public, regardless of what conflicts might be happening personally. They do this because they value their commitment and they are looking at the long-term, big picture of their marriage," she says.

And of course, because gossip magazines would royally trash the royal couple if they didn't have a picture-perfect marriage. We so-called "commoners" may have far fewer eyeballs watching, but our imperfect relationships could easily become the subject of friends' and family's gossip as well.

She recommends every couple create a "public profile" -- i.e. have a discussion with your spouse around what kind of image you want to project to the world and how to reflect it. That conversation could cover how each person socializes in public, both together and solo, as well as public displays of affection.

And if you're ever unsure, just think: What would Will and Kate do?

Public Fights

What should couples do when private anger boils over into public life? Try to appear supportive in public and exercise self-control until you can work things out in private, Macleod suggests. Instead of screaming at your partner, take 10 seconds to quietly consider where they are coming from and nip a potentially nasty argument in the bud.

"This doesn’t just protect the privacy and integrity of a marriage, it also protects their reputation as husband and wife. It does no good to show the world your problems," she warns. "That’s even more essential for Will and Kate, as their fights won’t just be in front of friends, they will be in front of the world."


It took years before a photographer snapped Will and Kate kissing in public, and even now they tone it down.

Public displays of affection can be ridiculously adorable, but consider your surroundings and company, as what's appropriate changes with the setting. Like, for example, when you're on Buckingham Palace's balcony, in front of thousands of people... And the Queen of England. That's a strictly chaste kiss, no groping situation.

Inner Circle

Just like Will and Kate, "commoners" need to keep criticisms on lockdown in front of his/her spouse's "inner circle"; family, colleagues and friends.

"No doubt (Kate) has had to bite her tongue on more than one occasion when dealing with her mother-in-law and extended family. It is the same as a loving wife who has chosen to accept the idiosyncrasies of her mother-in-law, just to make life easier and avoid unnecessary conflict with her husband," Macleod says.

Going Solo

When Will or Kate steps out solo, they still don't step out of bounds -- at least, not lately, and definitely not since getting hitched.

"I would be surprised to see Kate socialize with opposite-sex friends, without her husband being present," Macleod says. "Common couples often make the same choice when they choose not to socialize with ex-partners or the swinging single secretary from work."

Whether or not you'll both make that choice, make your opinions known about what kind of behaviour (flirting, excessive drinking, etc.) is OK by you or over the line.

Support Each Other

If the royal marriage sticks (fingers crossed), it's because they support one another -- and it shows in public interviews, Macleod observes.

"I advise my clients to take an 'I’ve got your back' approach," she says. "If someone speaks ill of your spouse in public, you rush to their defence."

Photo gallery Will Kate And William's Marriage Last? See Gallery