The secret to a long and happy marriage

I am a marriage expert.

Haha obviously I'm not, I do not have a degree in marriage, and I've only had one marriage, so that makes me far from an expert. I expect Henry VIII was much more of an expert than I am. However the other day A Novice Mum asked me about the secret to being married for a long time.

You'll remember that Mr TM proposed in a casual but cute way, and that I had a casual but cute wedding reception. And all of that was over 24 years ago. We have actually been a couple now for over 30 years. That's just ridiculous, I could have done 2 murders for that!

Which leads me nicely to the secret.

The secret to a long marriage (the happy bit we shall discuss separately in a minute) is "don't kill each other". No really, that's it. There will be times in a marriage that you disagree about something, it may be a small thing or a big thing.

Maybe you like to leave the washing up on the draining board to dry naturally and your significant other (SO) likes to dry everything with a tea towel and stack it away in the cupboards, or you like back bacon and your SO likes streaky. These small issues need compromise.
Compromise should be taught in school, in the 'me me me' culture we have nowadays, where young people talk about 'doing what makes you happy' and 'making time for you',  compromise can be so easily forgotten. It's unlikely (though possible) that you find a partner on which you totally agree 100%. Even if you think that now, you may find as time goes on, issues you had never thought of appear over the horizon and you disagree. Compromising can stop you killing each other. Buy both types of bacon, take it in turns to be in charge of the washing up...

Some issues though are either so huge or so diametric that there can not be a compromise in which you both win, only a decision in which one of you does.

With some things, there can be a decision to both do your own thing, or keep your own thoughts, for example where you have conflicting religions or political views. Or as in our case where I attend festivals and Mr TM stays at home in the land of warm rooms, beds and running water. And that separate time can be a marriage saver too, if you look at many marriage guides there are lots of tips and ideas on things to do together and of course that's important, but don't be afraid to do things apart too. Mr TM likes to practise playing the piano, I like to blog.

But some decisions are just a dichotomy, what about getting a dog? or having children? I hope that every couple discusses big issues before they marry. But maybe you forgot to mention you hate dogs while he assumed you'd get an Afghan hound. Here is an impasse, what to do? You cannot get half a dog. Maybe you could still compromise a bit, get a smaller dog, arrange for a cleaner, get a dog walker..but if not you need to be able to talk...without killing each other, and one of you needs to be brave enough to not get what you want. (if you didn't talk about having children before marriage...well that's a big conversation to have, but you still need to have it, and listen to each other's reasons for their thoughts too)

*an aside
When we married Mr TM made it clear he didn't want children. I did, but after some years of us being together I realised that I would rather be with him, without children, than without him but with children. Mr TM is 20 years my senior. We married. I mentioned getting a dog, Mr TM declared dogs too much of a tie and a responsibility. I pointed out that I had agreed to no children, could I not have a dog to mother instead? And so he relented, 3 years after getting a puppy he suggested we have a baby, maybe he saw how I was with the dog, maybe he saw other parents, who knows, but he changed his mind, once I was pregnant we bought a second dog to amuse the first so that he should not be annoyed by the baby. Now 17 years on those dogs are gone, but DD and I missed them, Mr TM enjoyed the clean house for a while...before agreeing we needed more mud and hair on the carpet....

Never fall into the trap of "but if you loved me you would ..." because your SO will surely just think "but if you loved ME you wouldn't..."

So there is the secret. The secret is in 3 parts.
  1. Talk
  2. Compromise
  3. Be prepared to not always get what you want
And the happy bit? Well I assume that the day you got married you were happy? Now you are together all the time (apart from the time you are not) you are talking, sharing, not bottling stuff up, compromising...what's not to be happy about!

I wonder if you read this far and thought "But my SO doesn't help around the house" or "but my SO is messy" or a million other annoying things your SO might do. If so, ask yourself, have you talked about it? Properly, not yelling or moaning or nagging. Have you both come to a compromise about it? Have you thought of a way to move on? If not, why not? go and do it now, make you SO a cup of tea/coffee/beverage of their choice and go and have a chat.
(Don't panic I asked Mr TM for his input on this blog post and he's cool with it. He said to tell you I'm the messiest wife in the world and he is not a neat freak, that's just his wife being rude, he is just averagely tidy, despite that, neither of us has killed the other...yet)



Comic Book Art

When this dropped into my inbox I just knew I had to share, as a long term comic fan, (2000AD in the 80s and more recently Deadpool) I just loved these illustrations by Mark Hiblen.

Mark J Hiblen is a self-taught illustrator ( things like that just fill me with envy!) from a working-class background and a small, close knit family. His influences growing up were a love of 70's and 80's horror and pop culture.  Mark was given a boost when he was asked to create images of Vampires and Werewolves for an app on Facebook.

 Mark works mostly using an iPad and his finger. Previously his media had been pen and paper, watercolour, acrylics, and inks. However, two years ago, with the advancement in fluid design tech using touch screens, Mark decided to perfect freehand using just a finger and a screen.

Mark lives by the rule that no picture should take any longer than 2 hours! (amazing)

Mark’s childhood influences of horror films have remained with him throughout his artistic journey and he remains a fan.
Mark recounted that his dad would religiously buy him Spiderman and Planet of the Apes comics  every Sunday morning with his paper. This memory has stuck with him. Star Wars of course then appeared and like most young kids in the late 70's, Mark was hooked..

Mark has been lucky enough to have his work posted and shared by Slither/Super director James Gunn, who follows all of his latest projects and kindly used one of them to commemorate the first anniversary of the release of Guardians of the Galaxy.   The popularity of Mark’s work is growing, and it has also been shared by actors such as Zoe Saldana and Vin Diesel.

Most recently, success has come from Mark’s sketch which was created to say farewell to Star Wars actor Kenny Baker (R2-D2).

Another passion of Mark’s is a love of creating family cartoons and other illustrations upon request. Star Wars based commissions prove the most popular and when he isn’t drawing and creating, Mark enjoys spending time with his partner, daughter and crazy rescue dog Scout.

To find more out about Mark, check out his FB and Insta pages:

Thanks to Omni Search for sending me these images - https://omnisearch.uk/behind-illustrations-comic-book-artist/

Mark Hiblen Art on Facebook

Mark Hiblen on Instagram


Which Christmas tree is best, fake or real?

It's the time of year for tree wars. It's like the breastfeeding vs bottle wars but with more tinsel. (unless you are a really flamboyant breast feeder!)  So before everyone starts burning each others trees down in rage I thought I'd do a quick round up of real vs fake Christmas trees.

the great christmas tree wars

First The Real Tree:

  • It smells of loveliness and the wild outdoors and Christmas
  • You don't have to store it between Christmases (a big consideration if you like a largish tree and have little storage space, no loft, garage, shed etc)
  • Trees are a renewable crop just like cabbages,(not exactly like cabbages, cabbages are difficult to decorate and trees are really hard to boil)  while they grow they do breathing and stuff that is good for the planet, and they are biodegradable.
  • They are pricey though - this year the price of a tree (depending on where you live) varies from £4 a foot to an eye watering £20 a foot!
  • They drop needles. Yep, even the non drop varieties, and even if you spray them with non droppy needle spray stuff. Those sharp little needles get everywhere, terrible if you have a crawling baby, merely annoying otherwise (unless you are having naked sex in the lounge under the tree then all bets are off).  Hoover daily, sometimes twice.
  • Insects. You might bring them in with the tree or they might decide to live there later. Whatever, it's a party villa for creepy crawlies...but in your lounge.

And the Fake Tree:

  • After the initial spend (which can be considerable but often comparable to a real tree, see above) they are reusable so will become cheaper per year with the passing of time. I have an 8 ft tree I bought in 2001 and it's still in use, it cost £50 ( so £50/15 years = £3.30 per year)
  • You can get wild colours to match your decor. It's a bit 80s I admit, but you can get trees to match a chic white colour scheme, or a blue Elsa and Frozen themed one...or (probably) a pink Peppa pig themed tree. In the 80s Mr TM and I had a white tinsel tree with pink baubles ... we really are too classy :-/
  • They don't drop needles (don't panic, I'm going to try not to just write two lists that contradict each other) They are less mess, you can skip the hoovering.
  • You can put them up as early as you like because they will always look the same! They won't get browner or lose needles and look thinner as Christmas approaches, they are as bushy on January 6th as they were on December 1st
  • You don't have to trek around to find the perfect tree, after the first year you are sorted, there is the perfect tree. In your loft! (so yeah, you need storage space)
  • They need to be 'put together'. Most large trees are in pieces and need some erection, and fluffing (stop that!) to get them to their prime. (DD would like to point out this is great family bonding time...she does the fluffing)
sparkling christmas tree
Our 15 year old tree

So there we have it. Trees for Christmas can be real or fake, each have their merits and disadvantages and your personal situation and choice will come to bear on what you get. I honestly don't think there is a right or a wrong answer. We have a fake tree. What sort of tree do you have? I'd love to see it - tweet me a picture at Tattooed Mummy or share a photo on my Facebook page, or comment below.