It's contempt not a blazing row that kills a marriage
22:37 GMT, 27 March 2012
In tears: An emotional Susan Rae accused the legal system of allowing marriages to end for trivial reasons after losing an appeal against her husband's decree nisi
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to have been much wrong with Alan and Susan Rae’s marriage. As she explained to the Appeal Court this week, they’d been together 20 years and during that time there were only two real bones of contention between them.
Both of them, according to Susan, were her husband’s fault: his refusal to stop using the washing machine, and his insistence on buying ‘intensively-farmed meat’ for his sandwiches.
Her response was to remove the fuse from the washing machine and to throw away his packed lunches.
Weren’t these, as she said to the appeal hearing judge, merely the humdrum ‘everyday family difficulties’ that form a part of every marriage
Or were they — as her husband believed — sufficient reasons for divorce
The judge agreed with her husband and granted leave for the divorce to be made final on the grounds of her unreasonable behaviour. And even though I’m a fervent believer in marriage, and think that many couples get divorced far too easily, I must say I’d have done the same.
Susan Rae said the case had ‘elevated trivialities’ in the marriage. But removing a fuse to stop your partner using the washing machine is not an elevated triviality, it’s low-level warfare — and once a marriage has reached this stage, the chances of ever getting it back on track are slim indeed.
Trivial break-ups Couples should realise that most things simply aren't worth fighting over
What kills a marriage is contempt and lack of respect. You can have a screaming row, after which you both truly believe you never want to speak to each other again. But if you still fundamentally respect and care about one another, your relationship will survive.
Sometimes rows can even sustain a marriage. We’ve all encountered couples who seem to need regular bouts of emotional upheaval in order to prove to each other that they still care.
Secret: Sharon Osbourne revealed that the reason her marriage to rock star Ozzy has survived is because she stands up to him and respects him
Only this week, Sharon Osbourne revealed that the reason her 29-year marriage to rock star Ozzy has survived, despite drug-fuelled rages and beatings, was because she hit him back and refused to be a victim.
He then went into rehab, she took antidepressants — and they are happier now than they ever were before.
‘We fit together,’ she said. ‘I can’t imagine life without my husband. I have so much respect for him.’
But most of us also know couples at the other end of the scale. For them, all passion is spent and their marriage has become a deadly war of attrition.
If compassion and compromise are the twin engines that power a marriage to happiness and fulfilment, then control and contempt are the weapons that will destroy it.
The damage they inflict may seem inconsequential at first: getting up to make a cup of tea but not offering to make your partner one, perhaps, or using all the hot water when you know they want a bath. But repeated day after day, week after week, year after year, these slights can build a wall of hatred that eventually becomes insurmountable.
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Then there are the couples where one continually puts the other down in public, belittling and demeaning the person they allegedly love most, refusing to speak to them for days.
Behaviour that would have been unthinkable when they were first married becomes the unpleasant norm, with neither partner prepared to make concessions.
We don’t know why Susan Rae didn’t want her husband to use the washing machine — most of us would be delighted if our husbands chose even to learn which button does what — but removing the fuse to prevent him from using it is a pretty clear indication of a bankrupt relationship.
Marriage is a long game. To survive it, you need not just love and respect but the wisdom to realise that most things are simply not worth fighting over.
Susan Rae will never again have to worry about her husband using the washing machine. She won that battle — but lost her marriage.
We're hooked on sugar
This week we learned that a ten-year-old girl from Norfolk died because she was obese. Shannon Appleton-Gower died in her sleep from a combination of heart failure and breathing difficulties caused by her weight problems. So it seems a good time to listen to those who want to put legal controls on sugar, just as we do with alcohol and cigarettes. The truth is we have become addicted to sugar.
I suspect the blame lies with those low-fat diets we’ve been obsessed with for the past 30 or 40 years, as food with the fat removed can be made palatable only by making it sweeter.
And the more sugar we eat, the more we want.
The food industry, so rapacious it makes even Tory Party treasurers seem like monks in comparison, has been quick to profit from this, adding sugar to everything from smoked salmon to bread.
Obesity is now an epidemic. Yes, we probably don’t do enough exercise — but the bigger problem is that the food we buy is increasingly full of sugar.
Poor, overweight Shannon may be the first child we know of to have died of obesity, but she certainly won’t be the last.
Sugar is addictive — and it’s killing us.
Jobless: Princess Beatrice is struggling to find work
As an Olympic hopeful and former BBC
Personality Of The Year, Princess Anne’s daughter Zara is arguably at
greater risk of being threatened by terrorists than her cousin Beatrice
(pictured) ever will be.
Yet Princess Beatrice, still jobless
despite graduating with a degree in history and the history of ideas
last year, is struggling to find work, she says, because employers are
put off by the presence of her protection officers.
solution’s simple: ditch the title and the protection. Once she does
that, I’ll start believing she really does want to work.
The latest pictures of Tom Cruise’s daughter show her in eyeshadow and lipgloss, being carried in her mother Katie Holmes’s arms. She’s being treated as a combination of baby and teenager, when in reality she’s a five-year-old child. As the poet Philip Larkin put it: ‘They **** you up, your mum and dad.’ It’s just that in Hollywood, it happens a lot faster.
I don’t know anyone who likes the dreaded e-cards. Even my children, products of the computer age, get excited when a card or letter arrives in the post. But as the cost of a first-class stamp is set to rise from 46p to 60p next month, I’d say the Royal Mail is about to kill itself off faster than email ever could.
Showing too much cleavage suggests you’re power-hungry, according to a new book by a clinical psychologist which analyses what our clothes reveal about us. So I was interested to see that presenter Susanna Reid, who’s noted for her cleavage, had covered up for her now-permanent job at BBC Breakfast this week. Does it mean that winning this coveted job was the summit of her ambition
Revealing too much BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid is noted for her cleavage
Let Rathband's children grieve
Darren Rathband clearly feels nothing but bitterness towards his dead twin brother’s widow, Kath, and has accused her of having no dignity.
He made it clear she was to stay away from her husband’s funeral, but she went anyway to support her children, who remain with her. They have had to endure their father David’s blinding by a psychopath, and his subsequent terrible depression and rages.
One of them overheard their father on the phone saying he was going to leave their mother. They have now had to cope with the unspeakable grief of his suicide.
PC Rathband’s children are entirely innocent victims, and I really think that for their sake alone, their uncle should keep his opinions about their mother to himself.
The most interesting detail of poor Simon Cowell’s burglary ordeal is that when the woman broke into his house on Saturday night, he was in front of the TV watching not just himself, but the competition, too.
This is a man totally obsessed with winning the Saturday night ratings battle.
Personally, I thought that Britain’s Got Talent’s BBC1 rival The Voice was terrific — but for sheer entertainment value, it’s hard to beat the barminess that is BGT, from gay ballroom dancers to a schoolboy choir and the extraordinary singing of Jonathan Antoine.
Round one to Cowell, by a whisker.
Lighting up: Madonna's 15-year-old daughter Lourdes was photographed smoking a cigarette this week
Clean living It is SUCH drag
Madonna’s 15-year-old daughter Lourdes has been photographed smoking.
Given her mother’s fanatical exercising, obsession with macrobiotic food and virulent anti-smoking stance, this was inevitable.
I expect Lourdes’s idea of wild behaviour is to have two Big Macs and a milkshake.
Still, on the upside, I predict that by the time she’s 30 she’ll also have rebelled against her mother’s sexual exhibitionism and be married to a dentist, arranging flowers in church and have a penchant for sensible shoes.