Out last week drinking champagne with three dazzling blonde women – it is the life of an Independent columnist – conversation dipped into their domestic arrangements. All were in their mid-thirties, at the height of their powers, but none was or had been married. Why, I wondered?
They were each a little melancholy at their single state – and for all the familiar reasons. The benefits of marriage just aren't seen as clearly by the man as by the woman. It struck me that women today really need to know how to make men marry them. It's a lost art.
An early mother-in-law of mine let one cat out of the bag. "It's always the mother's fault," she said. "They let their lovely daughter waste her 20s with two young men. One long relationship until she's 26 and then another long relationship until she's 31 and the boy moves on to someone fresher."
What was the proper way of doing it?
"After a year, no more than a year, you have to find out whether he's serious. If he's not, leave him. If he is serious, and he still hasn't made a move after another six months look at him with infinite regret and say, 'I'm going to live in New York.' He will follow. And if he doesn't: then leave him."
Yes, it wasn't left to chance in those days. But nothing beats the example of – let us call her – Maxine and the man she had met once and set her heart on – let us call him Jamie.
She didn't know him well enough to ask out so she invited him to her New Year's Eve party in the country with half a dozen of her friends. He was the first to arrive. During their first glass of wine, Maxine answered her phone: "What's that? An accident? A snow drift? Oh dear, but you're all okay?"
Thus the friends did not materialise and later that night, with a tap on his door, Maxine's soft voice floated into his bedroom, "Jamieeee, I'm cooold."
So there was that. Jamie being a decent fellow adhered to Marc Boxer's dictum: "It is the height of bad manners to sleep with a woman only once."
It happened again. And then she resourcefully installed herself as his girlfriend. He wouldn't introduce her to his friends, but she knew where one of them worked and rang him saying: "Hello, we haven't met but it's Maxine, I'm Jamie's girlfriend and am throwing a surprise party for his birthday next month. Who else would Jamie like to come do you think? Yes I see, and what are their numbers?"
Not only did she make it known that Jamie had a girlfriend, all other contenders were warned that a superior operator was now in control of Jamie's future.
After a year, Jamie was so out-manoeuvred he realised his only escape would be to go to Hong Kong for two years. But she had a time-honoured solution for that as well. She fell pregnant with the first of their four children.
It's been an outstandingly happy and successful marriage. And Maxine's daughters will benefit from what has become very rare advice.Reuse content