I would like to say that I have been asked numerous times what the secret to a long (and happy) relationship is, but the truth is I never have.

Having been entwined with her indoors for over a quarter of a century now, I would hope my response wouldn’t be something cliched like ‘you get less for murder!’

I guess the secret is about give and take, or, if your me, give up.

Last year, despite being adamant that she wanted a second kitten, I put my foot down, as the man of the house, and forbade such an addition to the family. Twenty-four hours later and we had a second kitten.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Brett Ellis didn't want a second cat, but now he has oneBrett Ellis didn't want a second cat, but now he has one (Image: Brett Ellis)

Most of what I do irks her. The day generally starts off with a sleep de-brief, as we lay together and discuss, in minute detail, what the other one did during slumber. I dissect her sleep talking and ask who Geraldine and Dave are and why they are putting up scaffolding around the house? She pulls out the trump card with a video of me snoring like a chainsaw as she raises the ante.

So, seeking solace and a Saturday morning nap, I retreat to the summerhouse. Now I am forbidden from having anything to do with home décor however, during a moment when her defences were down recently, she agreed I could put up a few retro music posters in said garden building, so that is what I did.

That afternoon, upon discovery of my diy handiwork, I received the following WhatsApp message as I took safe harbour in the kitchen, "I’d love to see what your place would be like if you lived on your own". Not too bad I thought, as I relaxed in the knowledge that I had escaped unscathed. Only a few seconds later however she put the boot in, with added angry emojis when she wrote ‘It would be AWFUL!,’ to which I genuinely shuddered from her use of CAPS.

Daniel Currillo tweets ‘marriage is about texting ‘do you need anything from the shop’ every day until one of you dies’.

The real ‘secret’ however is hidden within the minutiae of life: the discussions about the best way to use toilet roll, how to load a dishwasher or how leaving your dirty socks in a ball affects their cleaning capacity (spoiler: they need to be unfurled, according to t’wife).

The secret? There is no secret beyond embracing the annoyances as, now matter how icky you both become with each other you know, in times of crisis, you have each others back, as the negatives dissipate and you feel the warmth of loyalty, which is an attribute earned through longevity, and that, mein freunds, is worth serving a life sentence for……!

  • Brett Ellis is a school teacher.