Angela Epstein again. Line-by-line
"Standing in front of the bedroom mirror, I give my reflection one last appreciative glance. I’ve got a night out with some female colleagues at a swanky new bar, and I’m determined to look my very best."
Determined? In spite of all the odds stacked against me? Determined to battle every obstacle like the Indiana Jones of the Boots cosmetic section. Well good for you. I usually do my make-up on the bus to make time for an extra glass of prosecco, but you have it your way.
"Arrogant as it may sound, I’m happy with what I see: freshly blow-dried hair, carefully applied lipstick, a pair of leg-stretching killer heels and a dress that manages to be both sexy and elegant."
Both sexy AND elegant? Stop press! Well lets hope there's no human rights abuses going on in Syria today cos we are not going to have time to write about them!
"All that’s needed is a final spritz of perfume — just enough to entice, not too much to overpower — and I grab my clutch and keys and head for the door."
She's like Carrie Bradshaw isn't she? I keep my keys already in my rucksack. The last thing I do before I leave the house is have a piss.
"Tonight, I want to attract a man. Not because I’m some predatory divorcee out to bag a scalp, nor because I’m a mistress-in-waiting looking for a little extra-curricular activity."
Sorry - is there some law against divorced women dating? Most divorced women I know like going to the cinema and a little light S&M, I don't know any who eat their date and put his head in a bag.
"No, I am a happily married woman, with no interest in any man other than my lovely husband of 20 years, Martin, the father of our four children."
Phew! For a minute there I thought it was my job to hate you, but no, you're sticking to the official rules of the patriarchy. And really? No interest in any other man? You should watch more Ryan Gosling movies.
"But that doesn’t stop me from making sure that whenever I’m 'on show', be it at a social event with Martin, a work engagement or — in the case of tonight — out with a few girlfriends, I dress in a way that will attract male attention."
When you're "on show"? What is this? Crufts?
"A recipe for trouble? I don’t think so. It’s critical for a married woman, however happy she is, to make herself desirable to other men."
Other men who you have no interest in? Well since you have so much free time, why not apply for a job you don't want or enter a competition you don't want to win?
"And before all those sour-faced, school-run mums with their hands up a chicken or their elbows in a twin tub start hurling their curlers at me, let me explain."
Yeah I hate women who cook or do laundry for their kids, don't you? And what do you think those curlers are for? They're to make your hair look curly. Presumably so random men will fancy you.
"Some women dress to impress other women — so they’ll pass the brutal, look-you-up-and-down appraisal routine practised by all judgemental ladies."
Yes judgemental people are awfully judgemental aren't they? You might want to get new friends, cos my mates don't give a hoot if I show up for a party in my pyjamas.*
"But I’m not interested in what other women think. Men are the barometer by which my attractiveness to my husband can be measured, ensuring I never take his interest in me for granted."
So you value men's opinions but not women's? You are SO writing for the right paper.
"It’s easy, after years of marriage, to assume your husband will fancy you no matter how you look. And at the end of a busy day, with four children to take care of, it can take a lot of effort to — well — make an effort."
Yes raising four children must be very hard work. I suggest afterwards put your feet up and have some wine. Stop beating yourself up. Perhaps your husband could try being grateful for all the work you do and supportive?
"Bad habits set in... not bothering with make-up when you both go to the cinema (who’s going to notice your sallow complexion in the dark?)... ditching your contact lenses for your pebble-thick glasses if it’s just a quick supper at the local gastropub..."
How are these bad habits? Being ugly is not "bad". And being ugly in the dark definitely isn't bad.
"I see married women all the time in their ugly shoes or with their badly concealed baby weight, tagging alongside an uninterested spouse."
What would be the point of dressing up fancy for someone who isn't interested? And presumably he's in hot pants, right?
"These women are, I’m afraid, inviting their man to stray."
Anything that doesn't start "darling I've heard about this great swingers party...", isn't an invitation to "stray".
"For, reprehensible as it is for any man to cheat, a woman who no longer values her own sexiness is compounding any potential weakness on her husband’s part."
How can you value your own sexiness? You're a woman so you consider your own opinion invalid!
"The way to keep him interested is to make him insecure — show him that other men are interested in you, so he’d better value what he’s got."
Ah yes, the key to all brilliant marriages: insecurity. Here are some other top tips: why not paint spots and wrinkles on him with make-up while he sleeps and start a rumour on Facebook that he's a sex pest. Who's he going to leave you for when all the other chicks in town think he's a pervert with bad skin?
"I realise that mine isn’t a popular view. The other evening, I went for a drink with a female work friend. I was in tight-fitting jeans, full make-up and high heels; her notion of dressing up was to take off her apron."
What was she wearing under the apron? Lingerie? Maybe she doesn't care what you think. MAybe you were being judgemental. Maybe she's having a tough, stressful time and wanted a drink with a sympathetic friend. Oooops. And we all know you HAVE to wear high heels Angela because of your awful cankles. Also what was achieved here? Even if all the men in the bar were queuing up to offer you a drink and their business card, you would have to have gone home and told your husband about it to deliberately try and make him jealous. Making you weird.
"I explained my theory, only for her to snarl: 'If my husband’s seen me give birth, he can cope with me in an old top and jeans.'"
Wow, why do these smart people hang out with you? And is "snarl" just tabloid speak for "said while being ugly". And do your friends know you talk about them like this?
"But that’s precisely the point. Your spouse remembers only too well watching his beautiful bride transformed into an enormous, foul-mouthed harpy on the delivery table."
Hopefully he remembers the magical day he became a parent and the brave woman who went through all that pain. Maybe you date different guys to me.
"He knows how you look in the morning with last night’s make-up landsliding down your face and hair matted like the bottom of a cat basket."
Of course he looks great in the morning with a hangover and his make-up everywhere! (Or doesn't he bother wearing make-up when you go out? Uh oh, license to stray alert!!)
"If that’s all you ever show him, it’s simply inevitable that he’ll take you for granted."
You have quite a dim view of women. And quite a weird life if you are only ever hungover or in labour.
"Sure, he may love you — but when you stop showing him your desirable side, his attraction to you will become as tired and routine as the weekend shop."
Love is, of course, not enough. He needs to be horny all the time. And what about him? What alluring ensemble has he plumped for? Jeans and a faded polo shirt again? Ooops. It's like he's begging you to shag every guy you meet.
"That’s why you have to remind him that other men find you sexy — otherwise you dent his delicate male ego by suggesting he’s not worth scrubbing up for."
So you scrub up for other men to remind him that you're willing to scrub up for him? No doubt he understands your message loud and clear!
"Remember, if he married you, he must have fancied you (once)."
Maybe he could help, maybe over breakfast he could occasionally mutter "you used to be quite attractive"... You could return the favour by peering up for your Cheerios and whispering "I used to want to have sex with you".
"I’m a hard-working, multi-tasking, mother-of-four battling encroaching age and fatigue."
Guess who is eventually going to win in the gripping battle between you and age? Yup, not you. And wouldn't it be more useful to put your top battling skills into battling for better childcare provision and more support for working parents? Then when you make some progress you can treat yourself to a spa day...
"I would describe my looks — without some clever M&S upholstery and a load of cosmetics — as utterly ordinary."
Oh I see, so sorry, this article wasn't intended for me at all - I'm gorgeous.
"But that just makes me work even harder."
If you want to "work" on improving your relationship - spend time together, do something you enjoy. Don't act like it's your wifely duty to pile on make-up for every trip to B&Q.
"My husband is, at best, bemused by my theory. The other night, as I was wiggling up and down the bedroom in a clingy cream frock and fretting over which heels to team it with before we headed out to a charity do together, he commented: 'Does it really matter? Who really cares, apart from me?'"
And you value men's opinions, not women's right? So you listened to him.
"Ah, but at the function, when one of the male organisers told me I looked 'rather hot', he bristled and threw a proprietorial arm around my shoulder. Hurrah! Result!"
This is more important to you than the fact that, by your own admission, he loves you? Maybe he just thought the guy was being creepy and was trying to help you shake him off.
"Working hard so other men notice you triggers a Neanderthal response in your man."
Ah - science! Could you please refer me to the journal and article in which this research was published for peer review?
"It takes him back to those bygone days when males, high on pheromones, would prowl round for potential mates."
Are you talking about the 80s?
"Nothing is more guaranteed to drag him away from checking football scores at a party and place him firmly back by your side than the appreciative glance of a lusty competitor."
Sorry - I thought you wanted to stop him sleeping with other women? Now you want to stop him finding out the football scores?
"And the greater the status of the man who notices you, the greater the impact on your other half. It will reinforce his pride in the fact that you are his."
And remember the higher the status of the guy who fancies you - the more cows he's likely to offer as a dowry. Oooops - wrong century!
"It works the other way, too. Nothing reignites my interest in my husband more than the flutter of another woman’s eyelashes in his direction."
Very grown up - I don't want him unless somebody else does. Have you considered therapy?
"I buy him beautiful clothes for his birthday, even though they might court the sort of female attention that I know raises my hackles. It’s all part of keeping the spark alive."
Is there anything you and your partner like about each other that isn't physical? What a weird relationship. You dress him up, encourage other women to oogle him, then this angers you and you want him. Really? And if so could you just role play this at home?
"Does it get me into trouble? Occasionally, yes. There will always be men for whom a reasonably-presented woman will seem fair game."
So someone fancies you and you're not interested and this constitutes "getting into trouble?" or do they refuse to take no for an answer? In which case we're talking about "sexual assault" which is not your fault.
"This is why turning heads has to be done with a restrained hand. Men are simplistic about smoke signals."
Most men don't understand smoke signals at all. But they're not bad with English I've found. And how is looking "your very best" using a restrained hand? Surely you should go for "looking your second best".
"If you’re heavy handed with the hair-flicking, pouting and skirt-hitching they automatically assume this is semaphore for 'there’s a Travelodge around the corner'."
Most men also don't understand semaphore. Nor why you would want to use it to alert them about local landmarks. What is it with the smoke signals and the semaphore? Or maybe you mentioned somewhere else that your social circle is predominantly Native Americans and air traffic controllers.
"When I sense there is any danger of that, I can’t get back to my lovely man fast enough."
I thought you were only interested in him when other women were pawing at him?
"Ultimately, I still fancy my husband and want to do everything I can to ensure he still fancies me too."
So do that. But don't go telling the rest of us what to do like it's a "duty", and blaming us for infidelity and relationship breakdown. If we needed any evidence that dressing up fancy doesn't magically make your relationship last look at all the glamorous celebs getting divorced every year, while frumpy old Mr and Mrs Baggins on your road are probably celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. If there's one thing we know about great relationships it's this: they're not built on superficial attraction and petty jealousy.
"But even if he put a ring on my finger, it doesn’t hurt to keep him on his toes too."
Yes it does - deliberately making people insecure is a crappy way to behave. By all means dress up when you want to, flirt if you enjoy it, because you're a human being and you've every right to go out on the town and enjoy yourself. But don't go pretending you're doing it for anyone's benefit but your own.
*That's "turn up to a party" (at someone's house, or a bar) "wearing my pyjamas". There is no party in my pyjamas. Sorry for the confusion.