I like to think we're a pretty normal couple - me and The Artist Formerly Known as Himself!
We get along most of the time, we bicker and have differences of opinion on a daily basis not to mention the occasional row but on the whole after 17 years of marriage we're doing ok.
The problem occurs when you start measuring yourselves against someone else's marriage and we all know at least one couple who appear perfect. The couple, where the husband never slags the wife off or disagrees with her point of view. The couple where the wife gazes adoringly at him all night, nodding in agreement at every word that falls from his lips. And once you start comparing notes with a couple like that, your own marriage will always fall short.
This is just to set the scene for a night out we had recently with one such couple. Every single time we go out with them, which thankfully is only about once a year, they spend the night smiling sweetly across the table at each other when all we want to do is stab each other with a fork!
So this time I decided to have a pep talk with Himself before we went out. (I can't keep calling him 'He Who Shall Remain Nameless', he'll just have to deal with the infamy!) I drew his attention to the fact we always row when we're with them.
'Now promise we won't fight tonight?' I ask him. He smiles reassuringly at me. 'Of course we won't fight! Don't be silly. Why would we fight?' Yes, why? Indeed. 'So you promise me you'll be on your best behaviour? And you won't drink too much?' He looks incredulous. 'Of course I won't drink too much!' Indeed. Again.
Himself goes off to watch a match in the local pub. He comes home looking smiley. I suspect cider has been consumed. He goes to get ready and pours us both a generous drink while we wait on the others. I can tell already, this is going to end badly.
They arrive looking as loved up as always. We go to dinner. Himself jokes that my dress which is yellow, makes me look like Big Bird. Ten minutes in and I want to kill him. We switch the conversation to holidays. We spend five minutes arguing about the name of the hotel we stayed in in Portugal while the others smile indulgently.
We order wine. The others aren't drinking wine so we drink our share...and theirs! Himself starts telling a story about a man on the other side of the restaurant.
'Shhhhhhh! Stop shouting!' I tell him. 'I'm not shouting!' he says...shouting. We spend another five minutes arguing over who came up with our first child's name. The other wife smiles at her husband and says, 'Oh dear. I think they're having a domestic.' I now want to clobber her too. Himself appears momentarily offended. 'We're not having a domestic. We're like this all the time.'
We pay the bill and leave and they drop us home. 'That was lovely, really enjoyed it. We must do it again soon,' they say.