I received a press release today from a dating website specialising in marital affairs. That’s their niche. In fact, they claim to be “The UK's leading married dating website”. I don’t know why I’m on their mailing list, but whenever I get one of their missives I’m amazed someone had the balls to write it. Their news on this occasion was a huge rise in women signing up during the FA cup final. Ha! While their husbands watched the match, thousands of disgruntled wives quietly got off the sofa and logged on for some illicit action.
It was a funny and incredibly sad press release. Apparently this website “sees a spike like this in women’s activity every year around this time. Women feel neglected as men put football first and spend a lot of time with their male friends watching the games. Consequently women find something else to fill up their time whilst their men are wrapped up in the match.” This would be an outrageous, if it wasn’t a bit true.
The “football widow” is a painful idea – the suggestion that without men’s attention women are bereft. And it wouldn’t be so painful if it wasn’t a reality.
I know women who have waited patiently for matches to end, scheduled their family lives around the beautiful game, rearranged holidays for fixtures and even changed wedding dates for World Cup quarter finals. Whether or not this sport is worthy of so much dominance isn’t the point. I’m not going to belittle football. I know it’s important. I get its quasi-religious appeal.
But there’s no equivalent for women. No man would ever be a “Knitting Widower”. Would Dave say: “Yeah, I’m gutted. We had to move our wedding reception – it fell on the same day as the season finale of Girls”. Far from it. Lots of men would be more than happy to have their wives occupied for 90 minutes, so they can do their own thing. They love doing their own thing. They KNOW what their own thing is. And that’s why they rule the goddamn world!
Perhaps we women don’t have enough of our own vital, unmovable, seriously important stuff, like football. Or if we do, we don’t prioritise it as high as we do our partners. I’m not judging – I’ve done it too. We put so much thought into them, relinquish so much power, and give them so much of our time. And the result? At the climax of the long football season we’re so eaten up with resentment that we go sniffing around the UK’s grimmest online dating concept looking for an affair.
The trouble is simply a huge gap between our level of interest in the opposite sex. Imagine a split screen juxtaposition: a girls' night out and a lads' night out. The women are invariably talking a lot about relationships. The men are chatting about their jobs and hobbies. Or they're playing some weird game with beer mats. This difference is where the trouble lies.
I’m not saying that men should sit around with a glass of Pinot Grigio discussing their marriages. God knows, their lack of analysis is beneficial – allowing them to clatter around their relationships, in a state of ignorant bliss, bewildered by little things they’ve done to upset their partners (like watching too much football). Women might be happier if they gave their relationships the same lack of thought. I’m not even being facetious. We can’t rely on changing each other, but women can change their dependence on men for their happiness or to “fill up their time”.
Please can someone send out a press release explaining how men can’t and shouldn’t provide our fulfilment and an adulterous shag isn’t the solution. Getting husbands to turn off the Cup Final wont crack this thing either. The only answer is for women to get some independent interests, focus on what they’re doing and make some noise about what they want. We need to create some happy widowers. Start doing our own thing and work out what our own thing is.