Judith Woods: Ten secrets no couple should reveal

Couples who share these secrets may drift even further apart
Couples who share these secrets may drift even further apart Credit: ALAMY

Excruciating. Gruelling. Difficult. When dashing “A” Lister Will Smith opened up about marriage to his beautiful wife, Jada, it was hard to know whether to raise a ragged cheer at his unflinching honesty or recoil in appalled disbelief - at his unflinching honesty.

Because after 20 years of togetherness, you can bet your Bone China anniversary how that one played out behind closed doors. While he may have hoped that his domestic disclosure would see him cast as an emotionally courageous hero during a social media age when everyone is obsessed with ’being’ perfect – it is unlikely that Jada will feel that way.

Instead, you can imagine his incandescent missus tearing a strip off him for his emotional reveal showing her - them, the family - up.  The secret of a happy marriage is, as the term suggests, a secret. Just as no mother would dream of telling a pregnant woman the shocking minutiae of childbirth, so do most long-married couples subscribe to an unspoken policy of omertà. Lovebirds and newly weds look away now, for these are the other truths about marriage that only the bravest among us would dare to reveal.

Will Smith thinks marriage can be tough Credit: Telegraph

1. Your man will become quite useless 

As marriage progresses each partner will unlearn skills and regress; typically, men who once survived quite successfully in the wild no longer have any idea how to book cinema tickets or buy vegetables. Previously independent women are curiously flummoxed by radio alarm clocks and petrol stations. Infuriating.

2. Shared interests diverge

 He sniffs at your music collection and refuses to grasp how “someone of your intelligence” can watch Strictly or I’m a Celebrity. As he sits in the kitchen shouting out the answers to University Challenge, you feel a pang of pity for The Male Condition. And then you feel annoyed.

3. Seemingly innocuous questions are interpreted as Acts of Naked Aggression.

These include (but are not confined to) a husband asking: “Have we bought my mother a birthday present?” or a wife enquiring: “Why do you always insist on overruling the SatNav?” The incendiary statement: “No, you said you do it / bring it / sort it” should be avoided in public, at all costs.

4. He grows increasingly intolerant of your friends

Mainly because they cackle ( it’s called laughter, darling) and are bossily opinionated  (they just aren’t as Surrendered as I am, my sweet). He doesn’t mind you going out with them but resents when they come round and neck his actually quite special Malbec as though it were a 'bloody box of supermarket vin de pays’.

5. You grow increasingly exasperated that he has no friends.

None. Even the children have noticed. His barber doesn’t count. You try and organise man-dates with the equally sad-sack husbands of your friends, but ultimately none of them ever gets round to it. As a result, every time he asks: “What are we doing this weekend?” you want to punch him.

6. You no longer consider each other’s idiosyncrasies to be sweet and quirky, but irritating and anti-social.

Selective deafness, obsessive hobbies, peanut butter breath. He can’t bear your slovenly floor-drobe of discarded clothes and shoes. You can’t stand the OCD way he sits at the table and straightens the cutlery. Is this what Will Smith meant when he said marriage could be excruciating?

7. The man who once joyfully ravished you in every room of the house has morphed into someone who gets weirdly anal about the correct way to fill the dish washer

He becomes so agitated and naggy if plates aren’t rinsed first that you do it, just for an easy life.

8. What you wear is a constant annoyance

The woman who once enchanted her husband with her alluring scent and sexy heels now pads about in tatty slippers, leggings and a shapeless hoodie. When he murmurs how nice it would be if she put on a frock, she erupts into blind rage and screeches: “I might if you ever took me anywhere! When was the last time you booked a babysitter? This is all you deserve you lazy, complacent...”

9. In health you just about hold things together. In sickness it’s a very different matter 

Man flu, (key symptoms: chronic whinginess and acute self pity) is a particular flashpoint that can bring out the Nurse Ratchett in the most devoted of wives. Competitive exhaustion also falls into this category; long term marrieds will know that if you hear a preliminary sneeze or suspect your other half is about to pull a sickie of any sort, your only realistic option is to pre-emptively race upstairs, bury yourself in the duvet and pretend you have a migraine.  

10. You rarely go to bed at the same time

On the occasions you do agree in advance to have an early night, one of you gets distracted and fails to make the deadline. This ends in sulking and mutual reproach not because you care, but because faking a row is less effort than faking the alternative.

If that makes you wonder why on earth couples stay together, let me end with the comedian Rita Rudner. “I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

A couple having a bitter row Credit: Alamy

Many a true word spoken in jest.

How you feel when your husband won't have sex with you anymore Credit: Alamy
Your useless husband recovering from the flu Credit: Alamy