Real Lives: MAN'S WORLD

THE OTHER evening I listened as my wife and a friend discussed, in their topical way, their loathing of new men in general and of house husbands in particular. There is apparently something unforgivably weedy and unsexy about men who are content to do their fair share. I was muttering to myself that they wouldn't be talking that way if Dr Germaine Greer were in earshot, when a horrible thought occurred to me. "But I'm a house husband," I said.

By their incredulous laughter I was made to understand that I had somehow managed to avoid this particular pitfall. My wife assured me that hanging around the house all the time and being a house husband were two different things. I reminded her of all the nappies I'd changed and that time I'd made bread, but she insisted that I had a long way to go before I could be considered a new man. I'm sure she didn't mean this as a compliment, because she said it in front of someone else, but the implication was clear: I was the marginally lesser of two evils.

Obviously these days a man has to walk a very fine line to stay inside the Attractiveness Zone, but I find that it's mostly a matter of attitude. I may shop and cook and bathe the children like some kind of hapless drone, but I do it all with the exceedingly bad grace of someone fulfilling the conditions of a community service order. I know these chores are just as much my responsibility as my wife's, which is why I'm always prepared to argue that it isn't my turn. My wife will sometimes insist that it's not about whose turn it is, but this is usually because it's her turn.

In principle our marriage is an equal partnership. In practice this means that neither of us does anything unpleasant without having a crack at getting the other to do it first, and all of our free time is taken up with arguing about who is the most tired. The worst part is that, as the man, it is my duty to defend the moral low ground, which sometimes makes me uncomfortable. It can be very difficult to say "I know what you mean - my back is killing me" to a woman who is eight-months pregnant, although I prefer it to cleaning up cat sick.

Sunday is one long fight for the right to wear the thunderous face. My wife prefers ambitious family outings - a restaurant followed by swimming, perhaps - so she can show the world what a bad father I am. I generally oblige by sulking. Then, as my wife becomes irritated with the slow service and starts shouting at the four-year-old for playing with the sugar, I begin to cheer up. By the time we get to the pool to find it closed for a private party, my wife is seething and I am humming to myself. Back at home I grudgingly make the children supper, and looking out at the steady rain, I smile as I remember that it's her turn to go out and look for the tortoise. I shall wait until bedtime to remind her.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Y1 Teacher

    £90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...

    Senior Financial Services Associate - City

    Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - FINANCIAL SERVICES - Senior...

    Residential Property

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Residential Conveyancer - Wiltshire We have a...

    Y5 Teacher

    £90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Long term position for a KS2...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week