For a long, love-filled life, be sure to put out the bins and tins
The first was a wife. That much I know for sure. The split-up was amicable because she was so delighted to get away from him - she is referred to as Herself, or d'ex. The second moved in and moved out after about a month. "Bickering" was his name for her.
There might have been a number three in England. The man who knows nothing about women moved over for a while during the recession in search of work. I'm not certain of my facts here, but it seems he took up with a lady who owned a pet shop and kept snakes at home when they were poorly.
They're mad about animals in England, and I'd only be guessing now, but I'd say he said it's the snakes or me and she picked the snakes.
I saw him giving a woman a squeeze one time, long ago, at a dance in Ballybunion, and I'd say she'd be more comfortable with the python. He was a rough man.
The man who knows nothing about women is very argumentative - especially if he's right. I try to help out by telling him it's not a debating society he's joined but a relationship, and sometimes you have to give in even when she's wrong. For the sake of a quiet life.
His latest partner is delighted with his progress. She reads this page every week for the essential guide to living with men written by a man for women. The new girl has been in touch to ask if I can summarise the accumulated wisdom of the ages, as enunciated in these pages over a good many years. The tips are for men. But you must embrace change and understand that a woman needs to train a man to her ways.
It matters little that your mother already trained you in. Most women will try to knock the mothering out of men. Do not resist. Just do as they say and you'll be fine.
Then when you go to see the mother she'll try to train you back to her ways. The best thing is to accept the rules of the house you happen to be in at any one time.
But do not carry stories as to the wonders of the house you have just left. Especially about gravy. Never parse another woman's gravy.
The same goes for pasta sauce and the frigging glut of frigging lasagne. You can go nowhere now without a feed of lasagne being put up in front of you. I hope "frigging" isn't a curse. That's another rule. Cut out the bad language and always praise the dinner.
I know a man who was refused sex for six months because he described homemade spaghetti Bolognese as "interesting".
Bins are the single biggest cause of discord in a relationship. Put 'em out and take 'em in. It's as simple as that. And don't wait to be asked. A sex therapist told me one time that putting out the bins is the best possible form of foreplay for women. Better even than nibbling at the lobes of their ears, she said - not that I was attending the therapist as a patient.
Here's another tip. Keep the car tidy. And another is to use the brush thing near the toilet. Empty the goldfish water.
Kill a mouse and don't go putting your pants inside your socks when you're doing it. We're meant to be ferocious hunters.
If you're inviting the boys back for a few beers, tell her first. And never, ever leave the cans around on the table after.
Mow the lawn and get hay fever after. That's another good tip.
"But never tell her you're sick," advised a man of my acquaintance.
"Die first," he said.
The man was passionate about his beliefs. "Women do believe men are useless at putting up with sickness. So the trick is to say nothing about the symptoms and let the symptoms do the talking for you. Sneeze and sniffle and maybe faint. The women are basically compassionate creatures and she will mind you and nurse you provided it is she who makes the diagnosis."
I tried to explain the context to the man who understands nothing about women.
For so long, millennia in fact, women were slaves. My great grandmothers weren't entitled to vote. So don't be telling them what to do. There are many countries in the world where woman are still slaves. There are many houses in Ireland where women are still slaves. Women have incredible stamina and a fierce work ethic. Small things can drive them nuts. Like the bins and the tins.
I have never heard a woman complain about the pain of having a baby. There are hundreds more tips, but I'd need a newspaper as thick as a telephone book to fit them all in, and maybe we'll finish up with this last one. I know there's been very little mention of money or sex, but there's time enough for that on another day.
So here's the last tip. Learn a poem and recite it when the two of you are on your own - or better again, write one for her. But there's no point in reciting love poems if you bring in half the football field on your shoes or if you leave a half-eaten banana to blacken on the window sill.
Under no circumstances leave a snail trail of butter on the marmalade - clean the knife first, and not on your jumper or on the rim of your sock.