ANITA JONES, wife of former Monkee Davy Jones: I just phoned Davy and he said: 'Anita who?', so I think that answers your question] He is in the US for eight months of the year, I stay in England for the sake of the children's schooling. Davy spends a lot of time on the road anyway. I'd rather be on my own with the kids in England than on my own with the kids in America.

SIR RANULPH FIENNES, explorer: Ours has survived 24 years - and in the rare long spells that we are together, we don't get bored or get on each other's nerves. Both parties have to be very interested in something outside the marriage to make it work.

SIMON FOULKES, curate: If there is a basic commitment and will to love one another, a marriage can survive anything. I am an optimist.

GILL MULLINS, journalist: I hate being away from my fiance - he's in the Army and we've spent most of the last two years in separate countries. But I value my independence. It's really sad when people just sink into 'coupledom' and no-one ever hears from them again.

MICHAEL HOLROYD, writer: I don't feel people should be imprisoned in wedlock, if that's what you mean. People must stake their chances in the outside world rather than sit in a vacuum of two.

SARAH, air stewardess: You have to work hard in the time you're together, otherwise you become a bit like ships that pass in the night - or planes in my case.

NEIL, publisher: No. I was with my girlfriend for four years until we split up recently. We both lived in London for the first two years, but after that we were living at least two hours apart. It puts unbearable pressure on your weekends. If I wanted to play basketball on Sunday afternoon, my girlfriend would say, 'You can't, I only see you for two days of the week anyway.'

IMOGEN COOPER, concert pianist: It has to be worked at. I'm away for up to six months of the year. I've just come back from two weeks in Tokyo. My husband sent me a 15-page fax and it kept me alive, just things about the next door cat and how many biscuits were left in the tin. Keeping things going is very challenging, but we've been at it for 15 years.

ERICH SEGAL, author of Love Story: An independent relationship is a contradiction in terms. It's a question of who you have dinner with at the end of each day, and who you start each day with. Independence is freedom from a relationship, a relationship is freedom from independence. They can never co-exist.

Camilla Parker Bowles: said to have her marriage arranged to allow a free life

(Photograph omitted)

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