As the saying goes, the couple that laughs together stays together – and that certainly rings true for Marc and Zoë Hartog.
The couple, who are just coming up to their 17th wedding anniversary, feature in a Channel 4 documentary showing on Thursday, which reveals an intimate snapshot of marriage in modern Britain.
For the first time since the 1970s, the latest figures suggest wedded bliss in the UK is no longer on the decline.
How To Make Your Marriage Work focuses on five couples, who have been married from seven to 47 years and are from Brent, which has one of the highest marriage rates and lowest number of divorces in the country.
No topic is off-bounds, with many of the couples speaking frankly about the ups and downs of marriage, starting a family and infidelity.
For Marc and Zoë, who married at Kenton Synagogue and now live in Radlett with their two children, Rosie, 4 and Evan, 8, it was a chance to reflect on how they first met, as well as share cherished memories of their wedding day and the lessons they have learnt over the years.
The pair were introduced when a mutual friend introduced them outside a coffee shop in Hampstead. A few weeks later they went on their “first proper date.”
Magazine publisher Marc, 44, grins: “I took her to the cheesiest place in the whole world – the Sheraton Skyline.”
They went on seeing each other for another four years, before he proposed to Zoë in New York.
Zoë recalls with fondness: “My mum kept asking what Marc’s intentions were. She said: ‘I don’t want you left on the shelf’. I was only 24!”
On the day of their wedding, on 27 August, 2000, Marc recalls being a “complete emotional wreck” when he saw his future wife at the bedecken.
For Zoë, her favourite memory of her wedding day was when her parents first caught sight of her in her wedding finery.
“When I walked down the stairs, my dad exclaimed: ‘It’s the bride of the millennium!’ which was just so lovely. It was also special having mum there, because she had been quite ill, so to have everyone with you, your close family and friends was very important to me.
“I remember people saying you have to enjoy every minute of the day, because you want to take it all in and remember everything.”
In 2002, Zoë’s mum, Évonne, passed away from breast cancer, and five years later Marc’s mum, Hazel, also died from cancer.
The double tragedy taught the couple to “do everything together and have the best time we can”.
Looking back at her 17 years of marriage, Zoë reflects: “I’ve learnt that I like to share things with Marc, that he’s my best friend and that I know he’ll always be there for me.
“I also learnt that I want to be as good a mum to my kids as my mum was to me and my brothers.
“When we look at life, we just want every day to have fun and enjoy ourselves.”
Marc shares the same philosophy on life. “My mum’s overriding personality trait was ludicrous optimism and positivity – and I’ve definitely inherited that, as well as learning you can literally do anything you put your mind to.”
As for the secret to a lasting marriage, Zoë’s advice is simply to “not take life too seriously”.
She adds: “Everyone has bickers, as long as you don’t let them become bigger than they are, and also to remember that marriage is about give and take.”
Marc can’t help but add wryly: “Yes, Zoe gives me stuff – and I take it.”
How To Make Your Marriage Work airs on Channel 4 on Thursday, 10pm and will then be available to watch on All 4.