The LITTLE things husbands do that drive us women mad

The LITTLE things husbands do that drive us women mad

Last updated at 2:46 AM on 16th May 2011

So often, it’s the smallest things that trigger the biggest rows in a marriage. Last week, a caller to BBC Radio 5 Live confessed his obsession with the station was cited by his wife as the reason for their divorce.

Here, a selection of female authors and celebrities reveal the spousal habits, quirks and preoccupations that drive them round the bend. Their gripes may sound familiar . . .

Mad about him: It

Mad about him: It”s those little things that women find unbearable about their husbands

Comedian Jackie Clune, 45, is married to Richard Hammant, 43, an actor and stay-at-home father. They live in London.

Mylist of petty grievances comes far too easily. Tiny piles of pocket contents left on every available surface in the kitchen. Coins, receipts, screws left abandoned on the breadboard, in the sink and in the knife drawer.

His almost autistic insistence on walking exactly the same route to and from the Tube station.

IfI cross the road at the ‘wrong point’, he will not follow me. It could be midnight, I could be mugged or worse, but still he will not change his route.

The fact that he can’t just make a semi-decent meal, but has to flambe, saute, roast and mandoline-slice his way through making dinner.

After which he leaves the kitchen looking likewe’ve been ransacked by a utensil fetishist. Everything everywhere, drawers left open, cupboard doors ready to thwack me on the head as I try to tidy up.

But if I had to pick just one thing that brings out my inner scream It’s the way he undresses at night. Down go the jeans and the pants in one go, and there they lie, like a denim cowpat, until I pick them up the next day.

Even if he does take his pants off separately he can’t just let them fall to the ground; he has to flick them off the end of his foot and catch them in his hand.

Then he throws them on the floor. Aaaaaaaghh!

Journalist Deborah Ross, 49, is married to Geraint Jones, 51. They live in London.

Deborah Ross

Deborah Ross: Irritating husband

My husband is a dear man and a kind man and he does not irritate me at all unless you count: always going out without his mobile (‘I didn’t expect anyone to call’); denying he’s fallen asleep in front of the TV (‘I was watching that! Turn back!); being ecologically vigilant to the point of removing apple cores from the incorrect bin and going round thehouse asking: ‘Whose is this, Whose is this’ (I’ll just get our dental records out and check, shall I); and refusing to call a plumber when the pipe behind the washing machine develops a leak (‘I’ll fix it! I’ll fix it!’).

Then there’s loading the dishwasher the wrong way (it’s my way or thehighway, matey — get over it); eating the one thing in the fridge I hadmy eye on; sighing exaggeratedly during mafia films because I never understand who killed Frankie, or why; never unstacking the dishwasher in the belief that — what — little elves do it in the middle of the night; finally getting round to the washing machine and bumbling aroundso clumsily he causes a second leak but still refusing to call a plumber (‘I’ll fix it! I’ll fix it!’) while looking daggers at you, as if you were a drag and a nag, which you are not because you are lovely and a delight and he should be more appreciative.

One last thing: he doesn’t realise how blessed he is to have me. Very irritating, as well as dumb.

Actress Honeysuckle Weeks, 31, is married to hypnotherapist Lorne Stormonthe-Darling, 47. They live in North-West London.

Honeysuckle Weeks

Divided interests: Honeysuckle Weeks

Ever been to The Cumberland Pencil Museum No, neither have we.

I doubt we’ll ever get there, but there’s a pamphlet detailing its sundry delights staring at me from the kitchen table, upbraiding me with the waste of what could have been a ‘constructive’ weekend away.

It’s not alone. There’s yet another bowlful over there, filled with miscellaneous leaflets. The Leeds Dog Collar Museum anyone No What about a Site of Special Scientific Interest Twenty-three types of dung beetle!

There are as many of these pamphlets littering our house as there are leaves on a tree in June. I swear these blighters are breeding.

There’s not a foyer nor a tourist information centre in the world that has escaped a ritual pillaging of its literature. It’s as though the possession of a booklet on the surrounding wildlife and export industries of a particular area (‘Come and discover a taste of Olde England at The Medieval Mead Factory, Milton Keynes’) replaces the actual experience of going there.

Perhaps I should be grateful. This infuriating hoard may one day have some historical relevance. Archeologists of the future may dig among the ruins of our dwelling and assert that 21st-century man was a curious animal, with far-reaching (if rather daft) interests.

We could even become curators ourselves, charge an entry fee, call it The Pointless Forest.

And he thinks I have too many shoe trees . . .

Author Sandra Howard, 70, is married to former Tory leader Michael Howard, 69. They live in South-West London.

Michael and I come to grief over many things, namely: quantity of newspapers, him; half-drunk cups of tea or coffee left in curious places round the house, me.

Our respective explosions are almost always short-lived and mostly good for a laugh, but the one thing that drives me to total distraction is his obsessive, hysterical, monumentally unreasonable preoccupation with time.

It sends me mad with frustration. Leaving the house on time, being on time . . . You’d think he could give me a magnanimous few minutes’ grace, but no dice. He has none of the milk of human understanding when it comes to last-minute thoughts on plant-watering or difficult decisions on whether the dress/shoes/earrings are right for the occasion.

‘Five minutes can’t matter,’ I shout downstairs, thinking it is hardly a cardinal sin. But his impatience knows no bounds and all he can do is rant about my pathological lateness. It’s our one serious imbalance.

It doesn’t even work to remind him of the time he left the Howard funds in a hotel safe in Sydney, Australia —and only remembered on a plane halfway to Cairns. ‘If you hadn’t been in such a rush . . .’ I said.

I do try to improve. It’s just that he always thinks he has right on his side — which, of course, is absolutely maddening.

Writer Julia Llewellyn, 41 lives in Hammersmith, West London, with her husband James, 38, who works in the film industry, and their two daughters, aged six and three.

If I complain about my husband James’s most annoying habit, I’m met with incredulous stares. My friends’ husbands leave dirty teacups on the stairs and dressing gowns on the floor. I, however, have the opposite problem. My beloved husband is a neat freak.

He eats at ten times the speed of the rest of us, then hovers trying to snatch away our still-full plates to load in the dishwasher. With pudding and coffee yet to come, he’s vacuuming around our feet and wiping down the dining table.

Tea towels left on the floor destined for the machine are mysteriously found back in drawers, folded. Our daughters are constantly delving into the recycling bin to retrieve half-finished homework that their father has binned, along with the newspaper that I haven’t yet read.

When the girls are enjoying a delightful dolls’ tea party, James will be hyperventilating: ‘Did you really have to invite quite so many toys’ Their little plays are acted to a background chorus of: ‘You must put the dresses back in the box.’

Worst of all, though, is the effect on my social life. When my friends are moaning about their slobbish spouses, I’m completely left out. So please, darling James, to show you care, leave some breadcrumbs on the work surfaces.

Novelist Jojo Moyes, 41, is married to Charles Arthur, 49, a technology editor. They live in Essex.

Scratch the surface of any loving couple and you will find a habit that drives one of them to distraction.

In my husband’s case, you will also find a Steely Dan sweatshirt, a wedge of tattered business cards and one of his old rock-climbing magazines. From 1983. He finds it impossible to throw things away. Worse, he takes any attempt to dispose of even the most innocuous item — moth-eaten socks, a guide to long-dead computer software — personally.

He’s the most laid-back man I know, until he hears the words, ‘We don’t need this any more, do we’ I once found a mouldy decade-old calendar in the garage, and asked if I could bin it. He wouldn’t let me.

Me (incredulous): Why Him: I might frame the pictures one day.

Sure, and I might take up daily Pilates and look like Cindy Crawford.

It drives me mad.

Christine Hamilton, 61, is married to former Conservative politician Neil Hamilton, 62. They live in London.

Christine Hamilton

List of grudges: Christine Hamilton

Crumbs! Where to start Why does he always know better than the nice man on the satnav. And why does he turn left when I say turn right Why can’t he do things now instead of always putting them off in the fond hope that they might not need to be done

Why are his fingers in a perpetual fidget Why can’t he put the lid back on the biscuit tin after a raid Why can’t he do casual clothes without supervision Why can’t he open a drawer without closing it afterwards Why is he never ready on time when we are going out Why does he insist on picking up ‘bargains’ in the supermarket when he knows he’s not allowed to eat pizza or pies

Why can’t he change a fuse or put up a shelf Why do all mechanical things mysteriously break in his hands

Finally, in the immortal words of Professor Higgins, why can’t a man be more like a woman

Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, 41, is married to Steve Toms, 40, director of a building and design company. They live in Surrey.

My husband walks and talks, and it drives me mad. He will tap a number into his phone and then stride with purpose into my office as I am poised over my keyboard.

The door will bang open, and he will stand behind me, shouting ‘Yeah! That’s right! I need ten pallets by the morning and some bags of sand! Yeah!’

As my shoulders rise to my ears, I swivel and glare at him silently, so he turns away and — carries on talking! In my office, at the top of his voice, about something that I have no interest in, to someone I don’t know, in the middle of me trying to do something.

I raise an eyebrow to say, ‘And you are in here because . . . ’

And he then shouts, ‘YEAH! MATE, GOT TO GO, ANDREA WANTS ME FOR SOMETHING! HA HA! YEAH! ALRIGHT! BYE!’, hangs up, looks at me and says, ‘What’

Enough said.

Edwina Currie, 64, is married to John Jones, a former senior Met detective, 70. They live in Derbyshire.

The man in my life loves cooking. He’s taken over the kitchen, and I can’t get a look-in. Wonderful as this may sound, it has distinct disadvantages.

Once, early on, I settled in with a glass of wine as he dashed about in his pinny. ‘You could do the salad,’ he suggested.

I picked up a knife, and a large tomato, and began. ‘No, no, no!’ he stormed, in his best imitation of Margaret Thatcher. ‘Give that here. That’s not how you slice tomatoes.’ I’ve not been handed a utensil since. Whatever he cooks, it never tastes the same twice.

Curries vary from powerful to mind-blowing; the stir-fry could be Thai, Mexican or Greek, and the fish will taste of ginger (not bad, actually).

And it takes him ages. When I cooked for my kids, I could get tea on the table in seven minutes flat, including chips. If I’m hungry, I hate waiting. But Sunday lunch prep starts Saturday, and won’t be served till 5pm — and woe betide the starving guest who asks for peanuts.

He’s just met his match. We moved house and the kitchen has an ancient, temperamental Aga. Now the bread’s black, the chicken pink, the beef like leather.

Anyone for dinner