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10 pitfalls to avoid for a husband and wife

Marriage is a wonderful circumstance from which the two participants can draw enormous comfort.

A wife, I believe, gets someone to put out the bins every Tuesday night. Maybe a husband will also insist on being her chauffeur and make some sort of well-meaning attempt at putting up shelves.

As a husband, I can assure you that your bathroom will be stocked with neatly folded guest towels. You'll also watch TV programmes which you wouldn't have dreamed of watching before, for example, Grey's Anatomy, and broaden your horizons immensely. You will never again leave the house without a pair of clean and matching socks.

Nevertheless, these 10 pitfalls must be watched out for and dealt with promptly if they raise their ugly heads above the carpet of contented bliss.

'I thought I could change him' This sentiment is fundamental to the disillusionment that many wives feel a few years into marriage. They think a husband is like a cute but ill-behaved puppy whose behaviour can be improved with sufficient training. It can't. By the time a woman meets her husband, his time for learning new tricks is over. Inability to adapt is not really his fault and the wife's resentment should be reserved for the woman who failed to train him properly. His mother.

'I thought she'd never change' Another elemental cause of disillusionment, husbands don't realise that the fun-loving girl will become a more serious-minded woman -- possibly when they buy a house together and she starts to obsess over curtain fabric. Or when they have a baby. Or when she realises that the internet poker game he plays every night is with real money. Husbands need to cop on and start making provision for a decent pension.

'He drives too fast' Husbands do indeed drive fast. The explanation often cited is their superior hand-eye co-ordination and perception of time and space. Not so. They drive fast because of a belief that crashes only happen to other people. And 99pc of the time, this is absolutely correct. Wives are best advised to close their eyes.

'She gets ready too slow' A husband's grooming is nothing more than a shower and shave. Having jumped into clothes, he is ready in 10 minutes. For wives the process is necessarily more time-consuming including leg-waxing, nail-painting, hair-curling or straightening, putting on an outfit, taking it off and trying a different one, deciding the original was better, selecting accessories and applying make-up. At the end of it all though, the husband should console himself that his wife looks stunning. In fact, people may wonder what the hell she is doing with him.

'Why can't a cuddle just be A cuddle?' Why must husbands always try to escalate an innocent hug into something more? No matter how inappropriate the timing may be? Menfolk just can't help it, having been programmed to do so by millions of years of natural selection. Since the era of the husband's great great great great grandfather, enthusiastic lovers have been naturally selected.

'He spends money on frivolous things like an Xbox, complete with accessories' Many husbands act on the basis of looking for a pardon (after the misdemeanour) rather than looking for permission (before). Wives must indeed forgive but should steal the vital connecting cable. This can be returned after he promises to be good.

'She spends money on frivolous things like designer shoes' The answer to this one is fairly obvious. Designer shoes are NOT frivolous things. That's us told.

'When emptying the dishwasher, he always puts the spoons in the wrong compartment' The fact your husband is emptying the dishwasher any which way means you're ahead of the game. Rejoice and be thankful.

'Just how clean does a bathroom really need to be?' Wives have the ability to see infectious dirt where a husband sees only harmless fluffballs. In times gone by, this wasn't a problem since wives did all the cleaning. Modern attempts to divide labour equally cause conflict when a husband is asked to clean the bathroom. If he can't see the dirt then how can he be expected to clean it? Wives are better advised to let him vacuum the hall.

'He listens to his mother more than me' This cannot be tolerated. It's confusing for a husband to have any more than one woman telling him what to do. In frustration, he may obey neither and wind up doing his own thing. Something which must never be allowed to happen again. A wife must make use of her major advantage over the mother-in-law. Take the husband into a bedroom and persuade him there.

Love You, But . . .40 Fights Between Husbands and Wives by Colm Liddy (Penguin) €10.55 www.colmliddy.com