Darling, I”ve NEVER liked your hair: The secret home truths husbands would LOVE to tell their wives (…if only there was a Christmas truce)
Call it cowardice or good old diplomacy, it seems there are some areas of married life where honesty is most definitely not the best policy.
A survey last week revealed how a third of men will NEVER tell their wife that she’s put on weight for fear of sparking a row.
But what other taboos are there We asked five (very brave) writers to confess the one complaint they have never dared to confront their wife with.
Uncomfortable truths: A survey revealed how a third of men will never tell their wife that she”s put on weight for fear of sparking a row
YOU CAN”T COOK
Little chef: Mark Barrowcliffe is the family cook… because his wife”s culinary skills are so bad
Mark Barrowcliffe, 47 has been married to Claire, 41, for six years and has two children.
Let me start with a confession: I don’t enjoy cooking. The reason I usually do it at home is not because I’m a New Man or Jamie Oliver disciple, but because my wife’s cooking is so bad. In fact, to me, cooking is less a pleasurable pastime than a defence against poisoning.
Too harsh Perhaps a little history will put things in perspective.
The first time Claire cooked for me, she served me grilled salmon. It was raw on one side. When I asked her: ‘Did you turn this over’ she replied, in surprise: ‘Are you meant to’
I suppose I should have guessed cooking wasn’t her forte when we first met and I noticed her fridge was stocked with one dried-out onion, five bottles of champagne and nothing else.
She doesn’t seem to realise that the oven has a dial for a reason, that not everything can be cooked at the same temperature of 275c and that things won’t cook quicker if you turn it up.
Oh, she also seems not to know that there is a difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, particularly when measuring ingredients such as chilli powder and yeast.
And sorry, Claire, but there are some things it’s impossible to microwave. A joint of lamb, for instance. That happened a year ago and I swear I can still smell the smoking bone in the upstairs bedroom.
The biscuits she made for our daughter to take to school were used as miniature Frisbees in the playground, and I believe a slice of her cake is still used to wedge open the classroom door.
Rather than allow her to cook food for our children’s lunchboxes, it would save time and disappointment simply to smash their teeth out with a hammer.
What amazes me about all this is that it’s actually quite hard to make a mess of a recipe if you follow the instructions. Any idiot can do it. However, because Claire is very far from being an idiot she always has 1,001 things on her mind, number 1,002 being mulling the difference between soy and Worcestershire sauce.
And why, my love, have I never confessed my loathing of your cooking before Well, like most men, I am a coward. And believe me, that fruit cake looks heavy — and dangerous.
YOU CAN”T DRIVE
Driving him mad: Quentin Letts thinks his wife is terrifying behind the wheel
Quentin Letts, 48, has been married to Lois, 46, for 15 years. They live in Herefordshire with their children Claud, 14, Eveleen, 13, and eight-year-old Honor.
MY wife Lois passed her driving test after five attempts. I can only presume it was because the examiner could not bear the prospect of another white-knuckle ride and simply ticked the ‘pass’ box out of blind panic.
For Mrs Letts is not, I fear, a confident driver. Her terror is slight, however, compared with that of motorists unfortunate to encounter her while travelling in the other direction.
Lois is a talker, a female activity which demands a good 50 per cent of her attention. Mid-flow in chit-chat, she can forget things such as indicating before she negotiates a turn or making sure she has entered the correct lane.
Her scrutiny of signposts comes second to the task of conversazione — or, indeed, of checking her hairdo in the rear-view mirror.
When piloting the family Renault, Lois likes to listen to Michael Buble CDs at top volume. It stifles the passengers’ screams.
She grips the steering wheel with a vehemence which, while admirable in its determination, verges on panic. It is the grasp of Professor Moriarty on Sherlock Holmes’s throat at the Reichenbach Falls.
Having secured such purchase on the wheel, she might be thought to have total command of the business of steering. Sadly, this is not the case. Maybe her eye wanders. Maybe she has inner-ear problems connected to spatial calculation. Whatever, she is poor at maintaining a steady, accurate position on the Queen’s highway. We have been in more ditches than Lester Piggott.
Prangs occur with alarming regularity. The last involved her skidding, in balletic slow motion, into another woman on a Herefordshire back road. I am told it was like something from a curling match.
Accidents would happen more if she had a taste for speed, but Lois is no Jenson Button. She proceeds at the speed of Brian the Magic Roundabout snail, peering through the windscreen with suspicion.
I suppose it is unwise of me to make this confession now, lest our insurance company reads this article. But Lois might as well be a secret agent for the Prudential. When other drivers see her on the road, they surely hasten home and ring their insurers to up their level of cover, pronto.
I DON”T LIKE YOUR HAIRSTYLE
Vincent Graff, 42, has been married to Helen for seven years. They live in North London with their two children, George, five, and Daisy, two.
Seven years after we wed, I’m still grateful that my darling wife agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. I love her today as much as I did the day we got married.
At the ceremony, Helen made one great sacrifice. She wore flat shoes so that she wouldn’t tower over me in the pictures. (I am all of 5ft 3in. She is an inch or two taller.)
But she also kept a mean secret from me that day: that she had a yearning to take her beautiful long brown hair, chop it off and turn it blonde.
Hair-raising confession: Vincent Graff with his son George and wife Helen… back when she used to have dark hair
She managed to keep her ghastly plan under wraps for years. Then, about six months ago, I got home from work one day to find that the brunette I’d woken alongside that morning had gone.
Where there was once sweeping brown hair, there was now a blonde bob. ‘I’ve had highlights,’ she said. ‘They’re great, aren’t they’ What could I say
What came out of my mouth was: ‘Yes, you look very nice.’ What whizzed round my head was: ‘Where has my Helen gone Why wasn’t I consulted about this When can I have her back’
I hate to sound like a curmudgeonly old man, but I don’t like change and I don’t want a blonde wife.
However artfully her hair has been done — and, frankly, for the money she paid, it had better be artful — I can’t get one phrase out of my head: ‘bottle blonde’. And that’s a phrase that reeks of Club 18-30 holidays. I know I am being closed-minded, but I liked my wife as she was.
She’s a modern woman, I’m a modern man. I realise I’ve no right to tell her how she should look (though she’s very good at telling me when I’ve dressed ‘like a tramp’). So instead I have retreated into an oh-so-manly sulk about the whole business.
One other thing. Do you have any idea of the running costs of being a bottle blonde — if, that is, the woman opening the bottle of bleach is a North London hairdresser
Helen has to have her highlights topped up every six weeks — at 115 a pop. That’s 1,000 a year. Money that could be spent on Apple iPads, paying off the mortgage, or even — I’m sure I wouldn’t complain — shoes. Though not if they’ve got heels, of course.
I DON”T LIKE THE WAY YOU DRESS
Style guru: Phillip Robinson once bought his wife a whole “look” to wear on a book tour – but she never wore it again
Philip Robinson, 38, has been married to Anna, 42, for 14 years. They live in North London with their three sons, Oscar, Caspar and Conrad.
It was on our first holiday together that I knew I had a problem with the way my wife dressed. We were walking through the city of Siena, in Tuscany, and I realised she was wearing a pair of immense boots that would have looked more at home on the set of Harry Potter.
Around us, elegant Italian women pitter-pattered around in flats. I drew a discreet comparison. She replied that she was short and therefore preferred taller shoes.
When I pointed out that these made her look like Robbie Coltrane in hobnail boots, we had an al fresco yelling match that even the Italians thought was a bit common.
Alas, I have come to realise in the years since then that any night out with Anna is like playing lucky-dip with a child’s dressing-up box.
I’ve become accustomed to her making a grand entrance in a swimming costume, or what resembles half a pantomime horse, accentuated by a thunderous glare that just dares me to say something.
I was brought up to believe that dressing well equalled self-respect. I cannot comprehend how Anna, raised in an affluent middle-class home, relates to clothes in the same way as Worzel Gummidge.
I suspect it’s because shopping bores her. Exasperated, I once bought a whole ‘look’ for her to wear on a U.S. tour to promote one of her novels. One of the New York papers actually put her in the style pages!
Back home in London she never wore the clothes again. Apparently ‘matching stuff’ was too much effort.
Since then, the subject of her awful dress sense quickly became taboo. One day, she discovered me in our bedroom, yanking her horrible clothes out of the wardrobe and stuffing them into a bin bag.
I wasn’t going to insult a charity shop: they belonged in a skip. She grabbed the bag and pulled out public enemy number one: a stonewashed denim cowboy shirt with gaudy pearl buttons.
The last time she wore this in public I prayed for a car to mount the kerb and run me over. The hurt in her eyes pleaded: ‘Doesn’t my infinite beauty transcend what I wear’
How do you tell a woman that her beauty has definable limits That while Kate Moss in a potato sack might be fine, she, dressed in this line-dancing shirt, just looked ridiculous
If she set out to test the measure of my love, she succeeded: unconditional is hard when the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with dresses like Kenny Rogers.
To save her feelings, the shirt is still in the wardrobe. She no longer dares to wear it, and I no longer feel the need to throw it away. This is progress.
Now when she appears wearing some startling abomination I smile weakly and croak that she looks ‘just fine’. Happily, this cowardly response is often enough to inspire her to head back upstairs and change.
YOU”RE TURNING INTO YOUR MOTHER
Turning into her mother: Guy Walters with his wife Annabel
Guy Walters, 40, lives in Wiltshire with his wife, Annabel, 38, and their children William, eight, and six-year-old Alice.
On our wedding day, I was approached by a vast number of beaming old buffers who informed me that my radiant new wife looked just like her mother.
Now, although my mother-in-law is undeniably attractive, I took private umbrage that my bride was being compared with a woman a quarter-of-a-century older than her.
But ten years on, as I approach beaming old bufferhood myself, it’s dawned on me that it’s frighteningly true: Annabel not only looks like her mother, but is fast becoming her clone.
First, there are the little things. Both clutter up the kitchen with maddening to-do lists, which suggest efficiency, but in fact reveal inner disorder.
Both keep bulging files crammed with recipes culled from magazines that are then never used.
Both drive irritatingly slowly, have a penchant for walking labradors in the rain, and make phone calls on Sunday evenings.
I could go on.
Then there are the big things — the matters of temperament. Both women seem very calm and collected, but they are anxious to the core. This is because they are both perfectionists and extremely conscientious — almost saint-like — and at times I wish they could be a little more laissez-faire.
I can’t really complain, and therefore I don’t. Besides, Annabel tells me that as I grow older I’m turning into my mother — but that’s another story.