I hear women in the gym (whose children are in the creche by the way) moaning about the demands on their time and saying that since they are the primary caregiver all week, they can't wait for the weekends when they hand the children over to the husband 'so he can do his bit'. You do slightly wonder if they have any concept of how demanding the workplace is, with all of the office politics and uncertainty, particularly in times of recession when one bad decision could mean the end of a career.
When my children were young and I was working long hours in a hostile environment, I used to envy the guys with the great wives. The wives who ran their households like clockwork, fought tooth and nail to make sure that the children got the best that they could, be it schools, sports clubs, even just made sure that their teeth were clean. I remember thinking that having a good wife, who cared about what she was doing and wasn't just in it for the cash beat a nanny and PA hands down. But the wives that I have seen lately have changed my mind a little. When things are really good and money is flowing, it's easy to be 'good'. But as times are tougher and some of these ladies are hearing 'no' for the first time, how they react is in some cases astonishing.
And it has led me to think, if I were a man, why would I get married if all that is on offer is someone who wants to spend my money and entertain my children with childcare, monkey music, crechendo, little explorers, but never actually with her own time and attention?
What WOULD make a wife worthwhile? I asked a few men and here are the some (surprising) things that they said...
'Before I got married I ate out for practically every meal, I was overweight and ate rubbish. She cooks everything from scratch and cares about if I have too much salt and additives or whatever....I like how she goes out of her way to find us really good food from more unusual sources always seeking out the freshest and most healthy of everything'
'At Christmas, everything just gets done, all my family have presents wrapped ready for me to distribute and she doesn't talk to me about it or ask for extra money. I still don't really know how she does it'
'She is great at booking holidays, and not like a concierge service that I just pay for, she does hours of research and we go to these luxury destinations and visit all the hottest bars and restaurants, but she finds the deals on accommodation, so we have the holiday of kings for a fraction of the price that everyone else has paid'
'When I have had a crap week and she just leaves me in bed on Saturday morning, takes the kids swimming and brings them back knackered so we we can have a chilled out day and doesn't expect anything in return'
'When I am being lazy and she makes me get up and go for a bike ride, or walk or bar b q, because she knows that I will feel better for doing it'
'When she makes an effort to do something nice just for me, not as part of something for everyone else, something just for me'
'When she organises things, I come along and everything is done, she doesn't talk about it or moan or bitch, just gets on with it and it all works well and she hasn't needed my time or money to do it'
'NOT lavish presents that ultimately I am paying for anyway, I like things that are personal and have taken time, home baked cake, photos of the kids in a frame, to be honest nothing is actually a better present than something pointless and expensive, that just makes me angry'
'She is so good with people and it makes me feel more comfortable, particularly in a new crowd where I don't have much in common with them'
'Just opening the door to my wardrobe and finding a clean, pressed shirt that I didn't expect to be there'
'Looking forward to a good meal, when she tell me in the morning not to eat too much lunch as she will be cooking steak and fondant (my favourites), I remember it all day'
'When I hear her tell the kids how lucky they are to have me as a father because I work so hard for them, that gets me every time'
'After a day in a chaotic office, coming home to a house that is really clean with everything in its place and knowing I haven't had to organise a cleaner, pay or check if anything is now missing/broken.'
'I like it when she sets the table and brings in flowers or herbs from the garden, it's not that I particularly care how it looks, I suppose I feel like a provider, in a more real way than just giving her money for the supermarket'
'I'm constantly surprised by how she picks stuff up off a skip or gets it from her mother, and to my mind it is hideous and she does something to it and puts it in a particular place and makes the room better'