No one wins when life is a charade

Suzanne Power

Two things worry me: lies and pretence. Like love and marriage you can't have one without the other. If you lie you're stuck with acting out a pretence and, if you do that, at some stage you have to tell another lie.

My policy is no matter how much it hurts, tell it straight. I've ended up in the Sahara socially for such a policy but it's warm there and I bring enough water to get to the next oasis. If I am the only one with an opinion I don't pretend not to have it.

A couple of days ago my hackles were raised by someone who I have heard discuss the arses of the opposite sex in terms that would make a rugby player blush. She's female and partial to her own opinions. I have no trouble with her bawdy buttock appraisal, but now it appears she hasn't spoken to her husband for six weeks because he passed a compliment on another female's appearance.

"There's nothing wrong with a woman who looks like you," he told a friend of ours who has had her heart broken. "There's only something wrong with the man who left you."

"Now his wife won't speak to me or him because she thinks we've been eyeing each other up. I knew as soon as he said it that she had a problem," the complimented woman told me. "I feel like I've done something wrong."

I reminded her of a party where the jealous wife divided all husbands onto two different sofas. We thought it was a party game (not the kind with keys) but the lads started to look a little uncomfortable when she made them twirl for her before she confirmed her decisions. One couch was full of Haves and the other was Have Nots.

"Have not what?" One of them asked.

"Sexy body," her reply had a few bubbles in it and a slur. "I'd be naughty with you lot, but not you lot."

"I thought we were going to play Charades," another of the innocent suspects said. Everyone went horribly quiet then slid off home a few minutes after. My husband didn't make it into her favourites: "I'd be worried if she was after me, she's a tank in a bra," he put it bluntly.

It's fine to be lecherous but when you have decided to lie to yourself about it, when you humiliate your husband publicly then snub him and a friend you've known for years when a feel-good exchange passed between them for all the right reasons in a clear hour of need, you're pretending you're a saint and you're lying that they're not.


He gave her a tiny teaspoon from the bottle she has been dosing him with for years and she proved how little she can take what she dishes out. When you expect to get away with murder and arrest someone for larceny it indicates an insecurity that allows you to make others feel small and yourself taller by belittlement. Not nice to watch and worse to live with.

I like a good-looking man as much as the next woman and I don't see why my husband can't admire good-looking women. I didn't leash him when I married him. Marriage is not a licence to say what you like to other people's husbands, particularly when your own is not allowed to blink.

My excommunicated friend tells me the husband, who works with her, is secretly delighted that his wife is not speaking to him.

"He's watched more Sky Sports on the second television in the past six weeks than in the entire marriage. In fact he told me he hopes it goes on until after Christmas."

Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves and the pretence we practise benefits others more than ourselves.