Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Every Adult Matters, Too

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Every Adult Matters, Too

Article excerpt

My husband and I ran into a bit of marital trouble last weekend. Usually we rub along fine: I get on with my marking while he hovers in the background making supportive noises and occasional cups of tea, before slouching off to the sofa to watch Netflix.

The arrangement suits us both. He gets to watch pointless violence without me challenging his political correctness or soliciting for a divorce, and I stagger through my workload fortified by occasional guilt-tripped offerings of cheese on toast. It's an equable relationship; so much so that I can almost imagine us ending our days like the old couple from Under Milk Wood, "like two old kippers in a box". Except in our version, the male kipper would be shouting at the television.

But when our children arrived home last Friday, things took a turn for the worse. Within seconds my husband and I reverted to the old polarities. No longer a congenial married couple, we separated back into two semi-detached individuals connected by the party wall of parental obligation.

Whenever the kids are around, our relationship plays second fiddle to the brass band of their needs. We happily watch as they sequestrate the TV channels, dictate what's for dinner, trash the kitchen, commandeer the wifi and take our wine to parties. There is an obvious danger: when we're "all about the kids" it's usually at the expense of each other. And when marriages are held together only by a shared sense of parental responsibility, they easily collapse. …

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