A permanent way to say ‘I love you’

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First Posted: 3/24/2015

When Debbie Aregood got her first tattoo five years ago, it was with her then-boyfriend Donnie. She got his name inked on her arm and he got her name on his neck. They had only been dating four months.

“Looking back now I think that we were nuts,” she laughed.

She’s only half-joking. They were married two months later.

It’s been five years and 10 matching tattoos since. The couple, who appropriately enough, reside in Inkerman, are the parents of a daughter, Damiana, 4, whose footprints became the inspiration for another tattoo.

Having Donnie along made the first tattooing experience better, Debbie recalled.

“He already had a lot of tattoos and he told me that he was going to get my name tattooed so I said to him that I’d go along with him and get a tattoo myself,” she said, noting that “it hurt really bad.”

As for Donnie, he was thrilled that his girlfriend wanted his name tattooed on her body. “When she told me that she wanted my name as a tattoo, I knew right then and there that she was the one,” he said.

Although he calls it “love at first sight,” the couple had actually known each other for 20 years before they started dating.

“The fact that the tattoos will be there for life means a lot to me,” Debbie said.

“We’re best friends,” Donnie said. “It really means something to our relationship to have these tattoos.”

Getting tattoos together has since become a hobby for the couple who searches the Internet for new ideas. It was Donnie’s idea for the girlfriend/boyfriend matching hearts after he spotted a photo of the popular necklaces on a website.

Their other his and her’s tattoos include wedding rings, their wedding date, their daughter’s footprint and birth date as well as sayings including “family forever,” “till death do us part,” “super mom and super dad” and the anagrams of Donnie and Debbie and mother and father.

All of their tattoos were done by their friend Shannon Cragle of Dragon’s Den Tattoo Studio in Kingston, who usually cautions couples about getting names tattooed. “I tell them to think it over,” he said. “Tattoos generally last longer than relationships. But once they have their mind set that they’re going to do it, they want it done.”

Cragle tells couples he can always tattoo over a personal sentiment should the relationship end.

“I usually cover up as many as I do,” he said.

The tattoo artist doesn’t recommend matching wedding bands on the ring finger as the ink doesn’t last long.

“The amount of use on the hand and the palms and the base of the finger affects how long it will stay on,” Cragle said. “You lose 20 layers of skin a day there as opposed to one layer on other parts of your body. But each person is different. It could last six months or it could last 15 years. It’s really hit or miss.”

One of the most unusual requests Cragle had was from a guy getting married the next day who wanted his ex-wife’s name covered on his hand.

“I ended up tattooing a coffin over it,” he said.