With nearly half of marriages destined for divorce, Samantha Brick, 52, says it’s time women stopped putting their men last.
Here she reveals how far she will go to keep her husband happy.
‘ OIL MASSAGE and relaxing music. Check. Lit candles and string lights hanging in their usual place – absolutely.
It’s not a girls’ spa night. That’s it for my husband, Pascal, 61, and I go through the same ritual every night.
When he comes to bed, it’s my job to help him relax. I give him a head and hand massage with his favorite lavender oil because it lowers his blood pressure and helps with insomnia.
My friends think I’m crazy. But here’s the thing. . . according to the Office of National Statistics, 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce – but after 14 years I’m still married while most of my friends aren’t.
I’ve been called a submissive and a Stepford wife, but at least when I say I’m happily married, I mean it.
It is thanks to the work I have done to make my husband happy. He’s high on my list of priorities, not buried deep under lawns that need mowing and elderly parents who need visits.
Unlike some, I don’t treat my husband like the hired help. If the bins need to be emptied I will do it and I don’t have to yell and yell just to make a point.
On weekends, I enjoy preparing Pascal’s breakfast in bed.
He loves a cup of tea and a croissant that I lovingly warmed up.
I manage household accounts, look after our seven dogs, oversee home improvements and do most of the housework – Pascal has no idea how the heated dryer we bought works and I wouldn’t expect him to.
Moreover, I do all of this with a smile on my face.
Putting my husband first means we are equals in our relationship because I don’t see him as an accessory.
He’s not just a provider and he’s also not a plus-one at social parties or someone to check on why the car alarm is going off at night.
We don’t have any children together but I have a daughter-in-law in her 30s and a son-in-law in his early 20s.
During the turbulent teen years, we not only survived, but thrived.
I took on what some would consider a thankless grunt job – homework, school errands, and meals made from scratch.
This meant that Pascal could concentrate on his grueling physical work as a carpenter while maintaining a decent relationship with his children.
Why did I do it? I’ve seen the consequences of treating your husband like a nuisance on the bottom of your shoe.
A friend, married to a bricklayer, makes him take off his work clothes before he can cross the threshold of their porch.
She sends the wrong message to their three children: Dad may be the breadwinner, but he’s not higher than them in the pecking order.
Then there’s the friend who’s separated from her husband but shares important things only via shoutout matches: their youngest needs a new gym kit or the owner needs to get the wet area sorted out in the kitchen.
No wonder they now live in separate houses, with one child each.
Not to mention another friend who calls her husband “dad” in front of their children and his extended family.
It’s as if she had first forgotten that he was her husband.
I’m not perfect. I confess that I was wrong with my first husband whom I married in his early thirties and put last in my life and our marriage.
I had worked hard for the brilliant career and organized the perfect circle of friends, while he was left somewhere at the bottom of my list.
In the back of his Yamaha
We had known each other for years before we got married.
I figured that I didn’t need to make an effort during our two years of marriage because of course he “knew” that I loved and respected him.
If he was going out with the guys, I reluctantly drove him to the pub.
If I went out, it was only with my friends.
We were like passing ships and I never stopped wondering if he would like me to spend time with him and his friends.
Although we enjoyed the occasional meal together, I had my work phone on the table.
During the holidays, I focused on tanning – and my book.
I was so busy with my own life that I forgot to give importance to the one we were supposed to build together.
No wonder, then, that we became more like brother and sister.
It wasn’t until the divorce stages that I tried harder to be nice to him.
Only then did I have “could have, should have” thoughts.
When I married Pascal, at 37, I was determined to do better.
While he loves motorcycles, they scare me.
But I force myself to join him on the back of his Yamaha. I can’t say that I will really love him one day, but I know it makes him happy.
He’s a petrolhead and loves everything about Jeremy Clarkson.
I forced myself to be interested, to know his shows and it turns out that I like him now too.
Thanks to Pascal, I also broaden my interests.
As for my appearance, I refuse to let myself go, because no husband wants to see his wife hanging out in a onesie.
I’m the same weight as when we first met, and while I haven’t succumbed to Botox or fillers, I put on my best beauty foot every day.
I do my hair, I do my makeup, and I buy nice clothes because, ladies, if you don’t put in the effort for your partner, someone else will.
Nothing screams “I love you” to a man more than making an effort with your appearance.
It’s also my duty to help other women put their men first.
I forbade a friend to wear fleeces and sweatpants around her partner and I annoy another to cut her hair regularly.
Some might say I belong in an apron, tied to the kitchen sink – but I disagree.
My marriage is working and if that means putting my husband first, so be it.