herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

even the Lucky ladies are allowed to moan

Sometimes when you're married and the house is never straight and your sentences are never finished and your social life looks like a pea that fell off a dinner plate, you hark back to the days when he was lovely and you were treated like you were.

The Professor of Love and Experience George Hook told me that before he married his Ingrid she found him the most romantic man in the world, and after they married he became the least. I felt it was the same for us all. You walk down an aisle or into a registry office and into a whole new set of circumstances.

This gives rise to the very common complaint of bitching about your spouse. You must be allowed to do this or you will go mad. So when I heard this week that a friend of mine, who tried to let off her steam about her spouse, was met with: "He can't be perfect, can he?" I knew immediately what the issue was: big, fat, begrudging husband envy.

Husband envy hits women who feel unfulfilled, and there are a lot of them about. They project their feelings on to your guy and see him in the light he projects at barbecues, birthdays and gatherings, all helpful and get-togetherish. He fixes things, he smiles, he is polite and pays attention. He doesn't fart. He doesn't snore. He is just what he was before you married him.

This woman sees sees my friend's husband in a light she cannot see her own in: favourable.

My friend's husband is a lovely guy. He lives with a lovely woman and their reciprocal loveliness led to this man being the kind of fish no one throws back. You catch him, he's yours. He is faithful. But he still does things that drive the woman who loves him mad. That's because he is an actual human being with nostril hair.

She needs to complain. It's a friend's job to shut up and listen. That's how marriages are saved. By nods from friends who know how well you love him. Lovely men still have hang-ups and those forlorn women who have not got lovely men still have husband envy.



complain

I don't know why women who know how lucky they are shouldn't get the chance to complain. They're told to count themselves lucky. If I am a friend to someone I know the person they married is equally lucky.

I don't think the put-upon woman has the prerequisite on moaning. Just because her choice took her down a blind alley, it doesn't mean her friends don't have pressure. The idea that if you have it good you shut your mouth belongs in the days of dowries and chattels.

Husband envy I'm sure has a twin in wife envy. But the camaraderie which exists among men is a kind of blanket approval which eliminates the need to say how lucky their mate is. They just support him in his chagrin and buy him a pint.

The female friend needs to do the same with prosecco. Being a friend means you say: "I know. Drink up." Not: "You're lucky. It's your round because my lad's a stingy goon." You say: "Really?" Not: "You're really lucky."

We all made choices, husband envy shouldn't be one of them.

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