Tag: marriage

Autumn Thoughts

“We’ll be needing a leaf-vac” my husband says to me as he surveys our big garden.

“Pfft” I say to him “All we need is a rake and I’ll get raking!”

Scene from our back-garden.

I had images of myself going out with a rake in hand, wellies, wrapped up nice and warm in my brown coat (the one I use to walk the dog), complete with wooly hat.

I had visions of myself raking away, deep in thought, while Doc as usual, would be lumbering around like a silly billy.  After while, I’d have a whole mountain of lovely brown and golden leaves on one side.  Maybe later if there was still enough light, T can do a leaf dive and I’d manage to catch everything in my camera (I rarely do, by the way), perfect captured moments, to be later posted on Instagram.

When all this is done.  We’d go in, hand-in-hand, mother and daughter, the husband will be slaving away in the kitchen with a lit fire, making us delicious hot-chocolate, complete with whipped cream.  He’ll also be slicing us a piece of cake fresh from the oven.  Lovely.  Life is bliss.

 “Dean, look at all those trees” the husband pointedly says, interrupting my reverie.  Can you imagine all of those leaves on the ground?

 View of the side-garden from the Historian’s study.

“Yep, we’ll need a leaf-vac”  and just like that my husband bursts my bubble.

Are you a dreamer like me, or practical like him?

Three Habits that Irks the Husband (But I keep doing them anyway).

German philosopher Nietzsche once wrote:

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

I believe him and so did my mum who once said to me “Marry a friend.  Love comes and goes, but friendship will always stay”.  My husband and I have that in our marriage (apart from love of course).  We can laugh like a couple of idiots at the smallest things.  We like each others company, believe it or not, give us a choice to hang out with our friends or each other, we’d choose the latter.

A month or so ago, I went out to watch a movie with mum friends from T’s school, I went home and said to him “You know what, I actually missed you!”  Yes, it did come as a surprise because I wasn’t expecting to miss him.  I thought I’d welcome the change of going out without the husband.  And he is the same,  he doesn’t like going out without me either.  Yes, I know.  We are such a boring couple.  But we kinda like it that way.

However like any relationship, ours isn’t perfect.  We all have irritating habits that may drive the other up the wall.  When I told him I was going to write this post, he was on the defensive side and said that apparently nothing I do really irritates him.  But as always I brushed him off and said “I’m still going to write it anyway”.  I know for one,  it does “mildly” annoy him when I do the following:

1. Interrupts his reading:

I honestly don’t intentionally do this.  It’s not as if I wait till he is reading and then interrupt him for a little chat. I’m not that mean. But yes, many times, when he is sitting or lying peacefully in bed, reading his book, I plop down beside him and start a conversation and I usually start with the most inane subject like “Oh you’ll never guess what I read in so and so’s blog”   Yes, my husband knows the names of the blogs I regularly read because I tell him about them, not that what they write about is silly or anything like that.

Sometimes, I’ll hear him sigh and he’ll put his book down in defeat and answer my questions, or have a little chat with me.  Other times, he’d  say “I’ve been reading this paragraph five times since you came in the room”.  I’d apologise, stop talking and then after a while begin chatting again as if he hasn’t said anything.

2.  Makes him watch my choices of films

No, they’re not chick flicks or romcoms, although I do like watching them too. I like quiet films, or films with a really good witty script, movies that makes you think.  We recently watched Clouds of Sils Maria (starring Juliette Binoche, one of my favourite actresses), admittedly it was one of those films where nothing much happens, you have to listen to the dialogue to enjoy it.  Let’s just say the husband wasn’t so pleased when it suddenly ended.  He looked at me as if to say “That’s it?!”

Then again, he does the same to me.  He’s been interested in Japanese films lately and we’d sit together and watch it.  Some of his choices were really good and some were really bad.   He’d turn to me and say “Oh I’m sorry about that” and then we’d end up laughing.

3.  When out shopping, I suddenly wander off.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this to their husbands/wives or partners.  When I see something, or suddenly remember something, I’m off to look for it, without telling him or informing him where I’m going.  Many times he’ll be in mid-conversation expecting an answer from me and he’ll turn around and I’ll be gone.  Surely I’m not the only one who does this?

There’s probably more, but of course in spite the maddening habits, quirks or whatever you want to call them, we accept them.  After all, in the famous words of Mark Darcy of the famed Bridget Jones’s Diary “Perhaps despite appearances, I like you very much, just as you are”.

Do you have any annoying habits or quirks that drive your husband, wife, or partner off the wall?

Do share.

What The Husband Did

My husband is many things.

He is kind

– thoughtful

– generous

– funny

and absentminded.

Even as a child, his mother called him her “absent-minded little professor”.

It was my birthday over the weekend, he had a lecture over at Plymouth that day.  Little T woke me up with a lovely greeting “Happy Birthday Mum” she said and planting a little kiss on my grumpy face.  I don’t like being woken up early you see, even if it’s my birthday.

I kissed her back and said “Now let mummy sleep please”.   She left me alone with her birthday card and her dad’s card near my pillow.

When I woke up, I called her back to bed with me and opened my cards and presents in front of an over-excited little T.  I loved all my cards and presents, except the card from my husband looked strangely familiar.  As I sat there on our bed with little T asking me “Is this your best birthday ever mum?”  I replied, “Of course, sweetie!”

And had a eureka moment …

Let’s call this Exhibit A.

This is the Valentine’s Day card I received from my lovely husband last month.

And here’s exhibit B

My birthday card.

Now you don’t have to be a genius to notice that they look exactly the same, except that exhibit A says “On Valentine’s Day” and the other one says “On Your Birthday”.

Dear Hallmark Cards,

Seriously guys, here’s a tip.  When making cards aimed at husbands buying for their wives, try to be more creative and use DIFFERENT designs.  I’m not worried about the women buying cards for their wives, because I’m definitely certain that they would spot the difference – IT’S THE SAME BLOODY CARD!

from a disgruntled wife,

Mrs. B

Please note that I am not waging a battle of the sexes here.  Men are the first (or at least the ones who don’t have any problem with admitting it) to say that they are really crap with little details.

The husband can explain many things, why World I and World War II broke out.  What would have happened if Hitler decided to do this, instead of that.  And many other high-brow discussions about most things, especially if it’s about history or politics.  But for the life of him, he couldn’t explain why he bought me identical cards one after the other to save his bloody life.

But of course, I’ve forgiven him.  After all, they are just cards right? Besides, this “little” mistake will cost him 😉  (insert evil laughter here)

Has your husband or partner done any silly mistakes like this one?

Do share.

The Secret to a Lasting Marriage

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, last week was my in-law’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary, sixty long years of being together.  I don’t even think they ever spent a night away from the other, apart from of course the time when my father-in-law had to have his gallstones removed.  Other than that, as far as I know, they have never been apart.

The day before the celebration,  I asked my mother-in-law if she could share the secret to a lasting marriage.  She laughed and said “Nothing really”.  After awhile turned serious and shared a few pointers which I’m sure you have all heard before.  It really is no secret, but I still thing it’s worthy enough to share or perhaps this could be like some sort of reminder to married couples?

So let me share with you the Four Important Things I learned from my Mother-in-Law :

Have things in common:

My in-laws met at church.  This was before my father-in-law went away to university.  She had to wait till he finished before they got married.  Aside from church, they also share the same love for books and reading.  They also like to travel a lot and have even visited warm countries.  I mention this because in spite of her aversion to heat, they still visited many Mediterranean countries and even Africa.

I found it a bitt sad though when they said that their trips abroad are over and didn’t even bother to renew their passports.  At 80+ insurance for them is very high and instead they continue to do their trips around their home-country, at least two to three times a year. And lastly, like me and my husband, they too are homebodies.  I sometimes think that we are their younger version.

Although of course there are also couples out there who are opposites and yet their relationship/marriage works.

Compromise but …

Of course, people always say in marriage, or for any relationship to work, compromise is of utmost importance.  She added though that it shouldn’t be difficult to make or do and what struck me, was what she said next which to me seemed a bit of like a contradiction.

Learn to dig in your heels

While compromise is important, learning to dig in your heels when you feel that you must should also be done. I was a bit taken aback with this, especially since she’s from that generation where women stayed at home, didn’t go to further education and didn’t question their husbands.  But clearly, here is a woman who knew her mind.  I shouldn’t be surprised actually, because she’s always done her own thing.

She recalled how one day, after walking her son to school, while pushing her daughter’s pram, she was suddenly engulfed with a sadness so heavy it actually made it difficult for her to walk.  She wondered,  “Is this my life?  Is this all that I am?”  That’s when she decided to take her life in her own hands, went to night school, got her degree and became a teacher, although knowing my father-in-law, he  must have wholeheartedly supported her decision.  I guess that’s what she meant when she said, learning to dig in your heels and saying – This is what I want.  This is what I’m going to do!  

Plodding on

Plodding on was actually the first thing she said when I asked her what the secret was. “Oh you just plod on Dean”, she said smiling.  I think I’d like to add though that when the going gets rough, that’s when you plod on.  You don’t just give up, pack your stuff, slam the door and walk out of your marriage.  Instead you plod on.  Do what you have to do to deal with whatever problem there is, whether it’s through silence and delving into your self before dealing with it again.  It’s your call.  But the important thing is, you both plod on … together.

And if you’re both lucky, you might also be celebrating your 60 years of plodding on together.  Here in the UK, you even get a card from the Queen of England and signed by her royal highness herself.  See photo below.

I would like to add another one which my mother said to me once.  “Marry a friend.  Love sometimes comes and goes.  But with friendship, it will always last.  And when the love goes, the friendship should resurface and that should glue things together till the love comes back

My husband and I so far are doing great.  We’ve got all four nailed, especially number one.  It’s interesting to add that, the first time my father-in-law met me, he told my then boyfriend that we were soul mates.  I was shocked, because if you knew my father-in-law, you wouldn’t think that he was the type who said things like “soul mates”.  Upon first meeting he’s the kind of man, you would automatically address as “Sir”.  Yes sir, that kind.

And we are friends too.  My husband calls me his best-friend and I feel guilty sometimes when little T asks me “Who is your best-friend mum?”  And instead of saying your dad, I mention my friend in the States who’ve always been my best-friend.  But yes, he is also my best-friend. You can have more than one right? We laugh at the silliest things and like each other’s company and of course, we also annoy each other too.  But that’s part of any friendship or marriage right?

Anyway, since today is  Valentine’s day (even though I’m not really a big fan of this occasion), to all the couples out there, married or not, I propose a toast to plodding on.

Happy Valentines Day!

Do you have any tips/secret to share?

This post is linked-up with #PoCoLo

Quote of the Day: The English Holy Trinity according to my husband

Yesterday, my husband tried to convince me to have breakfast out in the pub with him and my daughter.  Of course, as soon as he mentioned the word “pub” T got all excited already.  You see my daughter loves going to the pub as explained on this post.  I declined, only because I knew the reason why he wanted to go – cricket.  I have nothing against cricket, but I’m just not into sports.  I only watch sports when it is a big event like the Olympics or the World Cup.

Before leaving he said to me:

You see, the English also have their Holy Trinity, the pub, cricket and the Full English  Breakfast – The Historian

In my old blog, I used to refer to him as the Historian, simply because he is one.  Oh and I’m Catholic by the way, hence the allusion to the Holy Trinity and it was of course also sunday.

Congratulations by the way to the English cricketers for retaining the Ashes.

June Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father

Here in the UK, Father’s Day is celebrated on the 16th of June, so in honor of Dads, instead of doing my monthly Chats with Moms, I’ll be doing a June Chat with a Dad instead.  And my first feature is a really cool and funny Dad who is known in the blogosphere as the Secret Dad.  If you want to know more about him, read on and then head off to discover the secret life of this Dad on his blog.

Tell us something about yourself and your little one(s).

My professional life has largely been as an emergency humanitarian aid worker (which means I get deployed in international disasters like floods and earthquakes). When I was much younger I did some incredible jobs such as working on a farm (superb), working in a high performance car manufacturing business (brilliant) and on the conveyor belts at a chicken factory (cold).

My three favourite people in the world.

My daughter is 3 and my son is 15 months. They are both incredible and quite different personalities. I love them both dearly, and differently. My daughter is a force of nature – beautiful, charming, charismatic, funny and loving at best. And at worst a screaming banshee of emotional turmoil. My son on the other hand is a chilled out little soul, perfectly content to play on his own for hours on end. He is so quiet we often forget where he is. In fact where is he…….?

What was your little one(s) birth story(ies) like?

I am actually in the process of writing a blog about the birth of our first, my daughter, because it was such an incredible experience. The arrival of my son was a very different affair. My wife went into labour on Boxing Day and had a beautiful, straightforward water birth. It was such a calm experience after the craziness of my daughter’s birth. I often wonder if these birthing experiences had an impact on their early personalities (see above).

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

That it would be really hard work. I mean REALLY hard work. I actually doubt that there is anything that could have truly prepared me for how challenging it can be – except perhaps for attaching a pneumatic drill, with no off switch, to my hip and carrying that around for 4 years.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

With great difficulty. While I am in the UK I have become better at keeping my work hours fairly reasonable so I can be back in time to get the dinner ready / help with the dinner, play with the kids and take them through the bedtime routine.

However I travel a lot with work and that is a real process of negotiation between my wife (who also has a professional career), my company and the rest of the family.  This leaves very little time for me, which if I am being honest I often do find hard to reconcile.

How do you manage to arrange child-free time with your wife/partner? Do you have date-nights?

While having children cemented our relationship and bought us closer together in many ways, having children has also negatively impacted on our relationship in many other ways.

There is often little opportunity to connect in ways that we used to. A lot of our day to day conversations are very pragmatic and centre on logistics and planning. We rarely have time to check in with each other on an emotional level and talk about hopes, fears and dreams like we used to. Sleep deprivation can be tough for everyone too, and it can make the smallest things seem like major obstacles.

However, we are just starting to get out again now that the little one is a little older. Up until recently we hadn’t been out together on our own for about 2 years. The thing is I found that I didn’t really want to. By the time I was getting any spare time, I was just using it to catch up on jobs around the house, personal admin or simply catching up with sleep.

Recently though we went out to a rock concert together which was great and we have found a trusted babysitter, so we are hoping to get out some more in future.

Any favourite anecdotes about your little one(s)?

I am generally a pretty good, organised and hands on father, with strong emotional intelligence that can cook for, look after and nurture his kids.


My favourite anecdote is describing the look on my wife’s face when she walked into the room after a calming and reflective week away on a residential leadership course.

She came home (unplanned and hours early I must add) to find toys, cushions and books strewn everywhere. She came in to find my daughter head first in the laundry basket, cackling and laughing as she was throwing clothes out all over the floor. She came in to see my son screeching and head banging the wall to relieve teething pain. She saw me burning dinner in the kitchen. The smoke alarm was going off. The room was thick with smoke.

Even though I was in the middle of it, the look at my wife’s face made me realise that to her it probably looked and sounded like a war zone. Her face was a picture, and to this day it still makes me laugh to think about that.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

I love the moment I walk into the house after a trip away or a day at work.

My daughter will be the first to come running, arms pumping furiously, huge dimpled smile, curly hair bobbing. She will crash into my knees, sticking like a limpet to my legs and screaming with joy.

My little man will come crawling soon after, head down, hands slapping on the floor, little bottom waddling like a duck, big gummy grin, squealing with happiness, arms outstretched imploring for a hug.

I literally get bowled off my feet with a tide of pure, sticky joy.

It is at these moments that I’m reminded that fatherhood is the most important job in the world.

It is these moments that I want to last forever.

If there’s anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

I dislike having lost my old self; the old me who used to stay fit and healthy playing soccer three times a week; the old me who used to cycle everywhere; the old me who used to go running; the old me who always had time for people; the old me who used to be so spontaneous and carefree; the old me who used to be an excellent friend, son, husband and brother.

I guess it is about coming to terms with the death of my old lifestyle and the old me. I have read that you need to set time aside to mourn the passing of your old self when you have children, and equally set time aside to celebrate your new role as a parent; and I think that is true.

However I still have to come to terms with the fact that the old me has gone now. In truth it has taken a lot of time for my own expectations, and those of others close to me, to adjust to this new reality – the reality of fatherhood.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-dad would you take it?

I love my kids, really I do, but no, I couldn’t do that, not at the moment. It would drive me insane! I wouldn’t rule it out in the future though and I would like to reduce the hours I currently work, so I get to spend a little more time with them

Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood/parenthood?

The best advice I ever heard, and would like to share back is simply to trust your instincts. By all means read books and listen to advice and opinion, but at the end of the day there is no one who knows your child like you do. You are THE world expert on your child. That is a powerful and empowering statement, when you think about it.

I also wanted to share the best thing I ever heard about being a parent. As an eternal pragmatist (and optimist) I know this following statement may sound a little pessimistic (to some readers) but it truly spoke to something inside of me.

“Neither the good times, nor the bad times, will last”

That statement has got me through some pretty dark times, particularly around the arrival of my second child, when I was getting NO sleep and my day job was becoming incredibly stressful. It helped me reflect that it wasn’t forever and that it was just a phase. I saw light at the end of the tunnel when I accepted this.

And it has also been good to reflect on this statement during the lovely times, when everything is perfect, because it has helped me to live in the moment, take nothing for granted and enjoy everything while I can, while it lasts.

If you could give yourself advice before becoming a dad what would it be?

Quite practically I think it would be to give my first child (my daughter) a little more space, and to pay attention to her body language with a little more mindfulness. It was only after 3 months that I started to realise she was giving me important information through her body language.

Up until that point we had struggled with what we thought was a colic-y, temperamental, emotional child. In hindsight, we probably misread a lot of her cues, and she might have simply been tired. We (think we) got it right with number two though……..

Also a key reflection is probably that I should have liked to have become a father a little earlier. At 38 I was quite old to be a first time father and it breaks my heart to think my father never met either of my two little ones (he died just before my daughter was born). I know he would have loved them, and they would have loved him.

I also would have liked to have become a father a little earlier because not only would I have been able to deal with the lack of sleep much better (I had incredible stamina in my late twenties and early thirties) but I realise that my time with them is precious, and I want to spend as long on this planet with them as possible.

You can connect with The_Secret_Father via twitter or email


Or check out The_Secret_Father blog for more tongue in cheek posts and musings on modern fatherhood.

Thank you so much The Secret Father!