Marriage Diaries is a column by Telegraph Family in which people share snapshots of their relationships and their dilemmas. It is published every Wednesday at 5pm
I’ve never been caught behind enemy lines. Or in any dicey situations with the law. But I have been involved in some tense interrogations:
“Tell me where the wires are.”
“Your bag of pointless wires. Where is it? I put it by the rubbish and now it’s gone. Know anything about that?”
“Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“When I find them, I’m going to cut them up into tiny pieces and bury them under the patio.”
“Ha! You’ll never find them. Never!”
It’s not a heavily armed warlord asking the questions. Or a police officer who gets a cheap thrill roughing up suspects. It’s someone far more frightening. It’s my wife. My wife, with whom I’m in an endless slow-burn conflict. An ongoing border dispute involving regular low-level skirmishes between her forces of order and my forces of chaos. Represented, in this case, by a tangled collection of old cables I keep “just in case”.
I should have realised something was up when we first moved in together and she made me sell my electric guitar and amp, because it didn’t fit in with the shabby chic aesthetic of our flat. To be fair, the sound I made with it probably wouldn’t have fitted in with our neighbour’s idea of a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Still, it was a sign that my tendency to hold on to things way past their point of usefulness was about to collide with my wife’s devotion to decluttering. She’s basically Marie Kondo on steroids.
Evidence that the amp incident wasn’t a one-off surfaced pretty quickly. Newspapers I’d just bought would turn up in the recycling seconds after I’d slapped them on the kitchen table and gone off to put the coffee on. Piles of post I had carefully stacked in a corner would vanish – I’ve forgotten to pay bills, book dentist appointments and go to parties because my visual reminder is in a basket in a cupboard. OK, so I could use a calendar, but why type something into my phone that’s already been written down for me?
I’ve taken sole responsibility for putting clean clothes away because I can’t be sure she won’t identify a pair of my pants that are more than a year old, take them outside and shoot them. I’ve tried to tell her I count all underwear less than two years of age as a “good pair” that can be used for special occasions. But that cuts no ice.
Now my chaos lives in the shadows. In my drawers and wardrobes, which she rarely enters. In my wallet, which is teeming with receipts and coffee loyalty cards, even ones for cafés in train stations I’ll never go to again.
Occasionally she coerces me into having a sort-out, rolling her eyes as I justify continuing the life of an old jumper that’s covered in paint “for gardening”. I never garden.
I’m not above climbing on my high horse and telling her she’s aiding and abetting a disposable culture that’s clogging the world’s oceans with plastic. But, really, she’s usually right.
I had my last pair of running trainers for 15 years for goodness sake. By the end, hitting the roads with carrier bags wrapped around my feet would have been more effective.
Without her ordered presence, I’d probably be cowering under leaning towers of paper and stepping over unused bits of Ikea flat-packs. Although I have squirrelled away a dazzling array of Allen keys.
Of course, I still get a sweet sense of smug satisfaction when my hoarding comes good. That bag of wires spent several years hidden behind towels in the airing cupboard, then we moved house and needed an extra HDMI cable. Reader, I had several.
Do you have advice for our writer, or know anyone who has been through something similar? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Here's a selection of the best comments readers left on the article:
Sue Illidge. Maybe join a gym together or go for walks together and try to change both your diets so that it's less calorific.
S Dudley. Isn’t it selfish to abandon health and a reasonably trim figure and expect a partner not to notice or complain? At the very least it is a case of avoiding the truth to gain significant amounts of weight and pretend to be unaware of it.
Rhys Jones. In my opinion everyone carrying extra timber definitely needs a friend or lover at some point to give them some tough love.
The notion that fat shaming is negative, is ridiculous.
Peter Rine. I don't think she is shallow.
When out I often see men whose belly spills over their belt. What do they do? Push the belly up and fasten the belt underneath? It's disgusting.
35 years ago I rolled over in bed one night and felt my belly following me. It sickened me. The next day I gave up red meat and everything containing sugar and dairy and started the XBX Canadian Airforce exercise program. I also started hiking as a hobby, in the mountains whenever possible.
At the age of 70 I have a washboard stomach and every one of my blood levels is normal.
Remaining attractive to the opposite sex is just a side-benefit as a result of the fact that we are programmed to find healthy people attractive. I am in good health and feel fantastic.