The 10 questions every woman must ask a potential husband or live to rue the day
If Twitter is to be believed, Prince Harry has reportedly asked the Queen for permission to propose to his girlfriend, actress Meghan Markel. If this is true, it poses another question: what should Meghan be asking of Harry before considering his proposal?
Every so often in a marriage you ask yourself, "Did I know that, before we got married?" As time goes on you realise there are certain questions that, with hindsight, you could have asked, to avoid misunderstandings down the line. All sorts of things, like: chickens - are you interested? A hot-tub in the garden - definition of luxury or disturbing? TV - okay once in a while, or favourite activity bar none?
For example, last week, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, urged women to ask any man they were interested in - at the earliest possible opportunity - "will you support my career?" That is a good question, if a bit of a downer on a first date.
Though the one you'd be better asking, in my opinion, is: "Will you treat my job as if it's just as important as yours", because men are hazy about the definition of "support". They think support is listening to you rage about the fact that women do abso-bloody-lutely everything, while wearing their sorrowful Jesuit priest expression and being careful not to glance at the TV. And there's not much point asking a man if he will "support your career" if by that he thinks you mean turn up to your office Christmas parties, be polite to your boss and not mind a bit if you earn three times more than him.
Even so, Sheryl has a point. Better to ask than trust you're on the same page. She's got us thinking about the big 10 questions you might put to a prospective partner before going for the full commitment. So listen up Meghan...
1 How much money is enough? Because if you are the sort who has set their heart on a walk-in Ecclestone-style wardrobe by 2020, and he is planning to pack it all in on his 50th birthday and join the clergy, better to know that now. Also: how comfortable are you with credit?
2 What was your opinion of Carrie Fisher, RIP? This will tell you so much. This is, do you like funny women? And do you get the point of women even when they get old and shambolic and are past their glory days?
3 Could you look after a baby on your own for a whole 48 hours and enjoy it?
4 Are you planning to get seriously into bridge, or golf? Or sailing? Or box sets, come to that. (Because you can overdo box sets, I can vouch, and some people are watching The West Wing from the beginning, again).
5 Are you having regular dental check-ups? Watch this one, seriously. What is yours will be his and if he hasn't been going regularly you're looking at some serious financial outlay in the midlife years. Bridges. Crowns. The works.
6 Town or country? See point one.
7 How do you feel about naked saunas? Are you in the 'let it all hang out, wouldn't even consider cheating and smuggling in a hand towel, come on, we're all adults' category? Or more in the white fear camp? You don't want to be a sauna refusenik type married to a sauna lover. It has wider implications.
8 Do you like driving? Seems to be that men divide up into drivers and ones who get driven. You might want to check which one you're getting.
9 Do you like our friends? Do you almost automatically like everyone we like? This is a 'do you trust our judgement?', and a 'how easy-going are you?' question. It's also a 'can we hang out with my mates?' question.
10 Are there family secrets, eg jewellery? All this up-front grilling is a great idea but, in my experience, men and women go into marriage the same way we go into everything, including house-buying: I love it, I want it, I'll have it and… sssh, don't want to hear about subsidence and poor services.
Look at the location, the fabulous windows, the gorgeous back garden. If it feels right, you won't be listening.