Should Women Put Their Husbands First?

16/08/2011 12:02 | Updated 22 May 2015

Last week Kirstie Allsopp took a well-earned break from making her own soap and decorating her house with pretty doilies to dispense some relationship advice.

And it looks like that retro homemaker schtick defines her private life, too.

You see Kirstie, who lives with her her partner, property developer Ben Anderson, their sons Bay, five, and Oscar, two, and her stepsons Orion, 12, and Hal, nine, reckons that putting your man first is the key to domestic bliss.

"If you do what your partner prefers, he is happy and the children have a great time too," she told Hello! Magazine. "Your relationship with your partner will last far longer than your children are going to be at home. If you let that relationship slide when your children are little, it might disintegrate and you might not be able to rescue it. So at the weekends I let Ben choose what to do."

While I agree that it's wise to invest in your relationship, I'm not convinced that handing over all of your precious weekend is the best way to do it; unless, of course, you're particularly partial to rugby, gourmet sausage trails and military history documentaries.

But seriously, Kirstie's comments bother me because they send out the message that men's needs should take priority in relationships. And while women are still fighting for equality in the workplace along with shouldering most of the responsibility for childcare and domestic chores, the weekend is the only time that the average women has more than a minute to herself.

But that's not an issue for Kirstie, because she's not a fan of 'me time'.

"Women are encouraged now to take 'me time' - to go off and forge their own path and do what makes them happy. That's total b******s. You're only going to find happiness making other people happy," she says.

Hmm, to me that sounds more like the road to martyrdom than marital bliss.

And in Kirstie's world, a big part of keeping your man happy is feeding him up and avoiding tricky conversations about how you feel.

"If you want to talk about feelings make sure they [men] have a full stomach when you do it," she says.

"If I want to talk to Ben about something difficult, I shouldn't do it when he walks through the door after work. That is the best way to have a flaming row."

Quite aside from the rather sexist implication that the typical man - or Kirstie's man, at least - isn't capable of demonstrating any emotional intelligence unless he's been buttered up with a home-cooked dinner first, Kirstie's also reminding us that the best place for a woman is in the kitchen.

The kitchen which is no doubt full of artfully-mismatched china and embroidered tea towels.

"While I might be in charge when I'm at work, at home my husband is the boss," she says.

Obviously this domestic set-up works out beautifully for Kirstie, who cheerfully admits that she's very happy with her life.

But then Kirstie isn't exactly representative of the typical woman; she has a very successful career and can afford to pay several staff, dubbed Team Cupcake, including a home economist, a personal assistant, a tutor and a team of Italian nannies.

So although she's made a career out of being a professional homemaker, the reality is no doubt very different - or she wouldn't have time to film three TV series, design a range of homewares and write her upcoming craft book.

Most women manage without that amount of help - which is precisely why we crave that 'me time' at the weekends, even if it's only for an hour.

And if, as Kirstie says, happiness comes from making other people happy, then shouldn't men be making an equal effort to do things that please their partner?

So, no, I don't think women should be putting men first. But that doesn't mean that we should be putting ourselves first, either.

It takes two people to make a relationship to work and I'd say that we should be aiming for equality, not pandering to one person's demands.

And that's why we don't need Kirstie telling us - or her sons - that acting like a doormat is the key to being a good wife and mother.

Even if it is a very pretty, handmade doormat with flowers on it.

By: Ceri Roberts


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