Marriage? We’re not designed for it

By Paul Lester, October 22, 2009
Celebrity couple Katie Price and Peter Andre, who proved to be a fine example of a wedded misery

Celebrity couple Katie Price and Peter Andre, who proved to be a fine example of a wedded misery

I’ve been on more dates this year than in the previous 10 combined — call me old-fashioned, call me weird if you like (why not? Everyone else does), but I tended not to date much in the decade that I was married. And in the course of dating I have become something of a relationship expert. Turns out that one of the great things about being single is that you suddenly acquire a wealth of information on the condition of being unattached.

Actually, I was as much of a facts bore when I was hitched; it’s just that back then I was trying to justify the opposite position — i.e. why being wed was the ideal state. So I would regularly trot out statistics vis-à-vis the relative physical and mental health of married men and how they were generally happier and lived longer and more fruitful lives than their single counterparts, even though I knew deep down that the data could not really be trusted. Seriously now — what man would dare tell a market researcher the truth about his Jewish wife in a survey for fear of the almighty broigus that would ensue if she found out?

At least now I just have to contend with legions of angry marrieds glowering at me over the kitchen tables of north west London as I offer evidence, the majority of it undoubtedly fictional, to support the theory that Being Single Is Better.

Connubial bliss, I declare with the gravitas of a news broadcaster announcing a global cataclysm, is a fiction. We are not, I proceed to tell the assembled with the assurance of someone who has studied the subject at the highest level (meaning a quick flick through a yellowing copy of Cosmo, most likely at the dentist), designed to be with one person for long periods. Then I get all genetic and explain that males are programmed at a cellular level to procreate with as many people as possible, so at to ensure the continuation of the species.

Usually at this point my interlocutors remind me that I studied Spanish at university, not biology. Then, to throw them off the scent, I might casually switch disciplines and chuck some historical info their way to confirm my premise about the implausibility of monogamy. Were they aware, for example, that the length of the average Victorian marriage was 15 years? No, they were not. Moreover, they had no desire for a return to Dickensian values — what, and wear bustles and frock coats to shul?

Finally, I hit them with some sociology: did they know that, according to research on the relative degree of satisfaction among the sexes, when both partners in a marriage were asked whether they would select the same life-partner were they to remarry, 70 per cent of men replied in the affirmative compared to 30 per cent of women? Did they also know that this research was commissioned by the world-renowned Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency, which used to be owned by two nice Jewish boys, so it must be true…

I don’t just have a wealth of useless info at my fingertips; I’m also prone to offer my opinions, even — especially — when they’re not wanted. My current crackpot solution to all our travails couldn’t be more straightforward — men need to punch above their weight, looks-wise, for a relationship to endure. Allow me to elucidate. If a man is with a woman who is more attractive than he is, he will make more effort to please her, buy her more expensive things, take her to nicer restaurants and generally treat her like a goddess for fear of losing her. As a result, she will radiate contentedness and be more attractive to men, ergo her partner will have to continue to try hard to keep her. That’s it. The complex history of interpersonal relations reduced to one simple psychoanalytic insight and cyclical behaviour pattern. Genius, right?

So I thought I’d road-test it, and where better than at work? Recently I was interviewing this rock band called The Editors backstage at a gig. And for some reason I decided this would be a good opportunity to expound on my theory of relationship longevity to the drummer, a lovely chap, although one hardly blessed in the area of his physiognomy. Now, he happened to there with his fiancée, who I couldn’t help noticing was a strikingly beautiful, willowy creature with the face and body of a supermodel. The drummer, meanwhile, looked more like the comedian Freddie Starr. But they seemed like the perfect couple, easy and content in each other’s company. So I told them why I thought they worked so well together — that in a nutshell, she was hot, but he was not.

You’ve never seen security men move so fast to eject someone from a venue...

Last updated: 11:38am, October 22 2009