Every few years, there’s a new relationship theory that’s supposed to solve all of our dilemmas. The nineties were dominated by heteronormative ideas that now seem outdated, like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (men’s brains are like waffles, and women’s brains are like spaghetti, apparently) and The Rules (rule 3 is “don’t stare at men or talk too much” – oops).
The noughties brought us He’s Just Not That Into You – first in book form, then a movie – from the writers of Sex and the City. And in 2018, I thought I’d hit the jackpot with my new relationship theory: “Treat me like a sexy flatmate and not your wife, Jeff!”
The Sexy Flatmate relationship approach sounded exciting, modern and foolproof. It could apply to all relationships – not just men and women – because flatmates come in all shapes, sizes, genders and sexual orientations.
Sure, I felt like coined the relationship theory of the millennium, but did it actually work? Well, tell the publishers that we can stall on my book deal, as well as the spin-off movie. I started this relationship theory with the best of intentions, but as the Friends theme song says, “your love life’s DOA”. My Sexy Flatmate relationship theory was indeed Dead On Arrival, and no clap-clap-clappy theme song could ever save it.
Let’s go back to the days when I thought I was a relationships guru, shall we? Before I realised that I was a failure, before I even started? Thanks. It’s all I have right now.
I was sick of my husband, Jeff, being gross and lazy around me. I won’t go into detail, but imagine every single cliché about husbands and wives living together, and add on the tropes that come with having two young kids, and you’ll have our situation.
Mess everywhere. A lack of privacy. Me picking up after everyone. Arguments about why my car had such a bad smell. Watching Netflix in separate rooms every night. A blurred – nay, erased – line between what is too gross for a partner to see, and what should be kept private. More confusion about what deems good personal hygiene.
Speaking of relationship theories, this three part relationship theory that will change the way you think about life…
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“Enough!” I declared. I was sick of being trapped in the ‘wife’ role. I mean, come on, the word ‘wife’ doesn’t exactly conjure up images of glamour, does it? Unless you’re Meghan Markle, Amal Clooney or Lara Worthington, the word ‘wife’ is rarely associated with a life of luxury and indulgence.
Instead, it usually means laundry, cooking, cleaning and being the butt of jokes (“I’d go to your footy night, but sorry mate, the ‘boss’ won’t like it.”). And when two kids are added to the mix, it becomes less about association and more about domestic reality.
“Can you just treat me like a sexy flatmate, and not your wife, please?!” I asked Jeff, in a moment of exasperation.
And that’s when I began fantasising about going on speaking tours, because I was the genius who had transformed her marriage with ‘one simple trick’.